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George III’s maps and views showing the war from North America to India

Charles August de Gironcourt (1756-1811)

New York, Philadelphia, Staten Island, Fort Knyphausen and Fort Mifflin, 1776-9

PLAN / GENERAL DES OPERATIONS / DE L’ARMÉE BRITANNIQUE / CONTRE LES REBELS EN AMERIQUE / DEPUIS / LE 12 DU MOIS D’AOUST 1776 J’USQU’A / LA FIN DE L’ANNÉE 1779 1779 or later

Pencil, pen, ink and watercolour, drawn on twelve sheets of paper, then joined; laid down on four pieces of coarse linen, stitched together; edged with cerise silk ribbon; no evidence of brass rings for hanging; two linen ties to top edge, none missing | Scale: 1:126,720 approx. | RCIN 734020

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A topographical map of the operations of the British army in North America from 12 August 1776 to the end of 1779. American War of Independence (1775-83). Oriented with north to top.

The extensive topographical area covered includes parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York state, and Pennsylvania. The draughtsman of this map, Baron Charles Auguste de Gironcourt, was deputy quarter-master general of the Hessian army and, at the same time, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Hessian Artillery. This map, probably enlarged from basic extant printed mapping with additional information, is drawn in a European style quite different from that of the Board of Ordnance, and shows a relatively great amount of topographical detail, particularly roads and settlements and relief, augmented by large-scale insets of New York, Staten Island and various forts.

Of these forts, Fort Knyphausen, formerly named Fort Washington, was renamed by the British after General William Howe ordered Hessian mercenaries, together with other British troops, under the command of Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, to take the fort. This was accomplished on 16 November 1776. Fort Mifflin was captured by the British in the Autumn of 1777 as part of the operations to take Philadelphia.

A similar manuscript map by Gironcourt, in the Hessische Staatsarchive at Marburg (28 WHK Bd.28/ Dokument 12.1 and 13), gives in its title the source of the original surveys as those made by Captain Martin of the Corps du Genie. There are several differences of detail between the Marburg and Royal Collection maps. The manuscript explanation referred to in the George III catalogue entry appears to be missing; what is probably a similar explanation accompanies the Marburg example.

  • Charles August de Gironcourt (1756-1811) (draughtsman) [top right, below title, in title cartouche:] Dessiné par Charles Auguste De Gironcourt / Lieutenant d’Artillerie. / au Service de Hesse.

    ? Reinhard Jacob Martin (active 1776-9) (surveyor)

  • Watermark: None visible

    Condition: five fold lines; surface dirt along bottom edge. Verso: induced discoloration; heavy surface dirt along top edge, consistent with having been rolled

  • Scale: 1:126,720 approx. Scale bar: Main map [254 mm =] 20 Miles.

    207.7 x 186.3 cm (neatline)

    209.6 x 188.1 cm (image)

    212.1 x 191.0 cm (sheet)

  • Manuscript title:

    PLAN / GENERAL DES OPERATIONS / DE L’ARMÉE BRITANNIQUE / CONTRE LES REBELS EN AMERIQUE / DEPUIS / LE 12 DU MOIS D’AOUST 1776 J’USQU’A / LA FIN DE L’ANNÉE 1779. [top right, in plain rectangular cartouche]

    Insets:

    (1) [top left, in rectangular cartouche:] PLAN / DE LA VILLE / DE NEW YORK. Scale: not stated. Size: 47.3 x 59.2 cm (neatline).
    (2) [top left, below the plan of new York:] PLAN / DU FORT KNYPHAUSEN / & DES AUTRES FORTS & / REDOUTES, Qui ont été Construits / dans l’Année 1779. Scale: 1:7,121 approx. Scale bar: [113 mm =] 800 Yards. Size: 27.1 x 52.3 cm (neatline).
    (3) [bottom right, in plain rectangular cartouche:} PLAN / DE LA CÔTE DE STATEN ISLAND / Du COTÉ du NARROW, Des REDOUTES / & BATTERIES Qui FURENT CONSTRUITES / SUR CETTE ISLE en 1778. Scale: 1:21,771 approx. Scale bar: [156 mm =] 1200 Paces. Size: 51.4 x 47.8 cm (neatline).
    (4) [bottom right, below plan of the coast of Staten Island:] PLAN / DE L’ATTAQUE DU FORT DE READBANCK / LE 24 Octobre 1777 & DE CELLE DU FORT MIFFLIN / SUR MUDDEN ISLAND LE 15 Novembre 1777. Scale: 1:5,976 approx. Scale bar: [153 mm =] 1000 Yards. Size: 66.8 x 49.2 cm (neatline).
    (5) [bottom centre, in plain rectangular cartouche:] PLAN / DE LA VILLE DE / PHILADELPHIE / des REDOUTES & LI, / ,GNES de Deffences / Construites devant / le Camp qu’occupa / L’ARMÉE pres de / cette VILLE Le 1 Octobre / 1777. Scale: not stated. Size: 40.7 x 52.0 cm (neatline).

    Annotations:

    George III heading [black pencil:] America [no date] Military.

    Other annotations: (Recto) none. (Verso) [centre, red felt tip pen on 1980s red-printed Royal Library label:] XIV 20 NEW YORK.

    K. Mil. dummy sheet:

    Title: Plan general dessiné des Operations de l'Armée Britannique contre les Rebels en Amerique; depuis le 12.e du / mois d'Aoust 1776: jusqu'à la fin de l'année 1779; avec les Plans de la Ville de New York, du Fort Knyphausen, / de la Côte de Staten Island, de la Ville de Philadelphie, et de l'Attaque du Fort de Readbank: par Charles / Auguste de Gironcourt. 12 feuilles - avec une Explication manuscrite. / A Roll ... [black pencil:] 1 Table 1.st / [in a modern hand:] Oversize / [George III heading, red ink:] America 12 Aug. 1776-1779. 
    Watermark: fleur-de- lys in crowned shield, the monogram B&W below. 
    Size: 47.1 x 32.7 cm (sheet).

    George III catalogue entry:

    America Plan General dessiné des Operations de l’Armée Britannique contre les Rebels en Amerique, depuis le 12 du mois d’Aoust 1776 jusqu’a la fin de l’année 1779; avec les Plans de la Ville de New York, du Fort Knyphausen, de la Coté de Staten Island, de la Ville de Philadelphie, et de l’Attaque du Fort Readbank: par Charles Auguste de Gironcourt. 12 feuilles: avec un Explication manuscrite. 

  • From the collection of military and naval maps and prints formed by George III (1738-1820)

  • Subject(s)

    New York, NY state, USA (40°42'51"N 74°00'21"W)

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA (39°57'08"N 75°09'49"W)

    Staten Island, New York, USA (40°33'44"N 74°08'23"W)

    Fort Washington, New York, USA (40°51'10"N 73°56'16"W)

    [Fort Mifflin] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA (39°52'00"N 75°12'00"W)

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    A full account of another MS copy of this map, together with variants (including the Royal Collection copy) is given in the description for Lot 178, Christie's Sale Catalogue of Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts for 15 November 2011 pp.134-141. It is suggested that the Royal Collection example may be the formal finalized representation of the other copies, intended for presentation to George III

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