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1832 Marshall Map of the Battle of York, Virginia


Plan of the Investment and Attack of York in Virginia.
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Title:    Plan of the Investment and Attack of York in Virginia.

Description:    This is a rare plan or map of Yorktown, Virginia, during the American Revolutionary War issued for John Marshall’s 1832 edition of the Life of Washington. The map covers the city of Yorktown (York) and the surrounding countryside. Various rivers, roads, and topographical elements are noted. Color coding indicates the positions of the British (Red) and Continental (Blue) forces as each attempted to maintain control of the region. General Cornwallis had taken control of the British forces with the intention of establishing a deep water port on the Chesapeake Bay from which the British could stage additional trips and supplies. Cornwallis was defeated in the fields outside of Yorktown by a coalition of Continental and French forces under George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau, respectively. The surrender of Cornwallis and the British army at Yorktown proved to be the last major confrontation of the Revolutionary War and convinced the British Crown to sue for peace.

Marshall prepared this map to illustrate the Siege of Yorktown, the decisive battle leading to Continental victory in the American Revolutionary War.

This map appeared in atlas volume attached to the 1832 edition of John Marshall’s seminal work, The Life of Washington. Marshall composed the five volume biography between 1805 and 1807 and based the work on original papers and records provided by the president’s own family. The earliest partial edition of the The Life of Washington appeared in 1824 as A History of the American Colonies. In 1832 Marshall revised and abridged the original voluminous work to just two volumes and some 400 pages – from which this map was extracted. The maps of the 1832 edition are notable and desirable in that, unlike the original edition, most had hand applied color work.


Date:    1832 (undated)

Source:    Marshall, J., Atlas to Marshall's Life of Washington, (J. Crissy, Philadelphia) 1832.    

References:    Rumsey 2559.009 (1807 edition). Howes, W., U.S.iana (1650-1950): A Selective Bibliography in which are Described 11,620 Uncommon and Siginficant Books Relating to the Continental Portion of the United States, M317.

Cartographer:    John Marshall (September 24, 1755 - July 6, 1835) was the longest-serving Chief Justice of the United States (1801-35). Marshall's court opinions helped establish the basis for American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court of the United States a coequal branch of government along with the legislative and executive branches. Previously, Marshall had been a leader of the Federalist Party in Virginia and served in the United States House of Representatives from 1799 to 1800. He was Secretary of State under President John Adams from 1800 to 1801. Between 1805 and 1807 Marshall published an influential five-volume biography of George Washington. Marshall's Life of Washington was based on records and papers provided to him by the late president's family. The work reflected Marshall's Federalist principles, and is frequently praised by historians for its accuracy and well-reasoned judgments. Click here for a list of rare maps by John Marshall.

Cartographer:    Joseph Yeager (1792-1859) was a Philadelphia based engraver active in the first half of the 19th century. Yeager was trained early on as an engraver with works appearing as early as 1808 and 1809, at just 16 years of age. By the time he reached adulthood, Yeager had become one of the top engravers in Philadelphia, where he maintained offices from 1816 to 1845. He is responsible for numerous maps and views including the map plates for Carey and Lea's American Atlas and the map plates for the 1832 edition of John Marshall's Life of Washington, and a stunning illustration of the Battle of New Orleans. Yeager also published numerous children's books and, in time, became the president of a railroad. Click here for a list of rare maps by Joseph Yeager.

Size:   Printed area measures 9.5 x 8.5 inches (24.13 x 21.59 centimeters)

Condition:    Very good. Offsetting. Original centerfold exhibits light toning. Blank on verso.

Code:   YorkVirginia-marshall-1832 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)


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