Archive for the ‘Travel Log and Ports Of Call’ Category

An Artist’s View of Charleston

May 29, 2012

A recent stay in Charleston, working with the Charleston Library Society to catalogue their beautiful Atlantic Nelpune volumes prompted me to see for myself what the reality of the view which appears at the top of the Chart ‘A Chart of the Western Passage into the Long Island Sound from New York up the East River’.

[Heritage Charts A303, HNS p.154, NMM image HNS154a & CLS p.101 & picture 108a]

November 1st 1777

The Heritage Charts edition of the same chart dates from sometime after the 1st November 1777 as the view has been updated.

c1777-1780

The views depicted on both of the editions although they differ in foreground content are both of the city from the same place on James Island.  Most interesting is the view of the city which gives a line of sight up the Cooper River, past the Customs House, toward Mount Pleasant.  The question I asked myself was fromwhere exactly on the James Island shore was such a view achieved…

The most obvious starting point is of course the angles and views of the Major landmarks of the time which are of course the church spires.

(click on the image for an expanded view)

A view of Charleston from the South shore of the Ashley River in 1777

The slightly later edition of the same chart looks like this…

(click on image for expanded view)

A view of Charleston from the South shore of the Ashley river. 1777-78

Notice that the couple lounging in the foreground have been replaced by two people wotking the fields.  The cattle have gone and the port itself appears more industrious with extra ships in the river.

When one considers the angle of the view the artist must have taken a position South East of the city and all things considered including the accssibility of the river shore at that time (and today come to that) the most likely vantage point would seem to be along the coast-line marked yellow on the map, or indeed from by Fort Johnson itself.

Taken from Heritage Charts A308. A sketch of the operations before Charlestown, South Carolina. 1780.

(click on the image for an expanded view)

Now, for all of the detail which went into the creation of these magnificent charts, plans and maps the most important thing to remember is that the men who produced them were as much artists as they were draftsmen.  They had an eye for what would look good to their Lords and Masters, what would sell their work to those who could afford it and no less importantly, what would give the best view (excuse the pun!) of British control and posperity.

Look again at the pictures above and compare them with the reality of distance.

(click on the picture for an expanded view)

Remembering that in 1780 the Battery at the Southern end of the city, closest to the near shore-line stopped some several hundred metres short of where the battery wall is today, even a talented artist such as JFW Des Barres cannot have seen the city with such clarity and detail as his artwork would have us believe!

Previously unpublished Plan of New York Harbour and part of North River showing events between August and November 1776

January 30, 2012

There are some times in this business when you see something which rings a bell.  Nothing wrong with hearing bells, whistles or hooters come to that, provided that you can remember where and when, when it matters.  In a recent search I came accross this rather battered and lonely manuscript.  In fact I’d been looking at it on and off for a number of years, deciding if it would or indeed should be incorporated into the Heritage Charts collection.

Having finally made the move the next stage was, as always, to decide its relevance.  It told a fairly well-known story and the world is not short of maps, plans, charts, and other doodles which all do the same and are of a lot more interest… Or are there?

3 Questions:

What is it?

What was it a ‘rough’/draft/survey for?… These guys didn’t waste a thing.

Who did it?

Answers as follows:

1.  A manuscript  ‘rough’ of one of the most important events in American history.  Simples!  Not too hard a task inasmuch as it was clearly New York in 1776.

2.  It ended up as a Joseph Frederick Des Barres Map.  (A good copy of which may well set you back a mere $25,000, by the way).  Specifically it ended-up as ‘A Sketch of the Operations of His Majesty’s Fleet and Army Under the Command of Vice Admiral the Rt. Hble. Lord Viscount Howe and Gen./Sr.Wm. Howe, K.B. in 1776.’  Published in London Jan 17, 1777.

How do I know this?

Well, the References give it away.  This charming little unattributed ‘rough’ offers the following…

Image

… Which are labelled A – I.

When put up against the Des Barres References they correspond as follows:

The Letters in bold type on the Heritage Charts (A212) plan corresponds to the reference letter directly below on the Des Barres ‘Sketch:

A. ‘The place where the Troops landed on the 22nd Aug’t 1776′
F. ‘Landing of the Kings Troops on the 22nd August’

B. ‘Where the Action happened on the 27th of Aug’
G. ‘Field of Action on the 27th’

C. ‘Where the Troops landed on the 15th Sept’
H. ‘Landing of the Troops on the 15th September’

D. ‘Where the Rebels retired to’
I. ‘Where the Enemy retired to’

E. ‘A Rebel Post which the Troops took possession of the 23rd Sept’
K. ‘The Enemy post at Paulus Hook taken on the 23rd September’

F. ‘Where the Rebels endeavouryr’d to stop the passage of the River’s by sinking Vessels and Frames of Timber’
E. ‘Where the Enemy endeavourd to stop the passage of the River by sinking Vessels & Frames of Timber thro which the Phoenix, the Roebuck & the Tartar forced their way

up the River on the 9th Oct’r’

G. ‘The place where the Rebels attack’d the Phoenix & Rose on the 4th August 1776′
C. ‘Where the Enemy attacked His Majesty’s Ships, the Phoenix and the Rose, on the 4 August 1776′

H. ‘The place where the above Ships was attacked by the Fire Ships’
D. ‘Where the Enemys Fire Ships engaged the Phoenix and the Rose on the 16th August’

K. ‘The Encampment of the Kings Troops’
M. ‘Encampment of the Kings Troops’

L. ‘The Line of Encampmant of the Kings Troops after the leaving Dobb’s Ferry untill the reduction of Fort washington marked by the letter D.’
N. ‘The Line of Encampmant of the Kings Troops after the leaving Dobb’s Ferry untill the reduction of Fort washington.’

M. ‘The Rebels Fort call’d Fort Constitution, or Fort Lee’
B. ‘Fort Constitution’

N. ‘Place where the Troops Embarked to attack Fort Constitution three days after the Reduction of Fort Washington & landed at H’
O. ‘Where the Kings Troops embarked on the November for the Attack of Fort Constitution and landed at D’

O. ‘The Detachment of the Troops Occupied the 28th Nov’r’
P. ‘A Detachment of the Kings Troops in possession of this Post on the 28th November’

I. ‘The Place where the Troops landed the 12th Oct’r 1776′
L. ‘Landings of the Troopson the 12th October’

No reference on the ‘rough’ to Des Barres reference ‘A’ – Fort Washington – becuse he sneaked it in later!

The J.F.W. Des Barres A Sketch of the Operations of His Majesty’s Fleet and Army under the Command of Vice Admiral the Rt. Hble. Lord Viscount Howe and Genl. Sr. Wm. Howe, K.B., in 1776 ( London: Des Barres, 1777) may be viewed (amongst other places) at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3801s.ar105700.

So, that just leaves the all-important question of who did it?  Well, my preference is Col. Mustard in the Kitchen with a lead pipe but somehow I think it has more to do with who was in NY at the time, who had the skills, who wrote like this:

Hmmm?..

Newport International Boat Show 2011

September 17, 2011

It is great to be back in Newport RI for another show.  We feel very welcome and have thoroughly enjoyed the reception we’ve had from friends, customers (existing and new) as well as from all of the organizing staff.

Heritage Charts may be found in tent C, booths 55 & 56.  Please do come and visit us to view our wonderful, historic collection of charts, maps and plans all sourced from British Archives.

We are offering boat show ‘specials’ as follows:

10% off total puchases up to (and including) $450

15% off total puchases $500 & over

20% off total puchases $1,000 & over

25% off total puchases  $1,500 & over

30% off total puchases $2,000 & over

Welcome!

Newport International Boat Show 2010

October 3, 2010

We were delighted to have been able to present our collection of historic charts, maps and plans at the prestigious Newport RI Boat Show.

It is about 6 months since we were in Newport and it was, of course, very different from the cold, sleepy and rather white little seaport town that we encountered back then.  Newport is never more beautiful than in September with the still warm days of summer lingering, if as any local will tell you, you can put-up with the ever-present threat of showers and hurricane strength winds!

The show was important for us as we have in our collection some beautiful 18th century charts and maps which we knew had never been seen in this historic town before.  All of our collection focusses on the coast-line of the eastern seaboard and Narragansett was, back in the 1770’s, a hugely important region for the British navy.  The charts are of no less appeal nowadays to those who currently sail the waters and are interested in the hydrography, the history or indeed just the beautiful art-work.

We were delighted with the response and attention we received on-stand from all who saw us.

Most important of all were the fantastic people we met while at the show, amongst whom I’d like to mention:

Lisa DiRaimo of the Rhode Island Maritime Trades Association (RIMTA) who had the stand next to us, was fabulous company and just a wealth of helpfulness and joy.  Thank you Lisa!

Lisa Knowles, Sales Manager for the Newport Exhibition Group who encouraged us to attend the show in the first place – we still have a couple of charts with your name on them Lisa!..

Merrilee Zellner, proprietor of the William Gyles Guest House in Newport, who apart from accommodating us in her fabulous establishment throughout our stay was the font of all knowledge of the people and the town of Newport.  Thank you Merrilee for your walking-tours, sheer ‘positiveness’ and enthusiasm.

click image for link

Thanks also to Heather Jernegan and Steele Sartwell of  ‘Not For Navigation’ who shared their experience of exhibiting and moments of respite between customers. We hope to see you both again at another show..

See you all next year!


Fort Montgomery

September 28, 2010

One of the first images we included in the Heritage Charts collection was  ‘A Plan of Fort Montgomery & Fort Clinton’.  The 1779 Samuel Holland plan tells the story of one of the most important and daring engagements of the Revolutionary War which took place in October 1777.

(click on the map for more information)

A Plan of Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton by Smauel Holland and J. F. W. Des Barres. 1779

It was a great thrill, on the way up to the Newport RI International Boat Show, to be able to make a small detour to find the site of Fort Montgomery and witness first-hand the site of such a historic event in the history of American independence.

The site has been extensively excavated and now includes a very well-organized visitor center, as well as an informed tour….

The Visitor Center at Fort Montgomery

(click on the picture to enter the Visitor Center)

 ….but nothing quite prepares one for the striking view the fort commands over the Hudson (or ‘North’) river.

 View from Fort Montgomery looking South down the Hudson with Fort Clinton to the right.

 On the actual plan the view is marked in red..

According to Samuel Holland the ‘chain’ (yellow line) and the cable (orange line) which were strung across the river to impede the British advance would have been approximately here..

It is not my intention here to give a full history of events at the time.  For that, there are plenty of sources, not least the visitor centre and the supporting New York State Parks web-site.  What is worth noting, apart from the striking beauty of the region (even today with Route 202 and the Bear Mountain bridge which now spans the river), is the sheer ingenuity and determination of the American defenders and engineers to impede the British advance in support of General John Burgoyne.  Although the British land force of Loyalist, Hessian and regular troops under the command of Sir Henry Clinton along with the supporting naval force prevailed on the 6th October 1777, the victory ultimately proved hollow.   The intended reinforcement of Burgoyne’s army further north was fatally delayed and Burgoyne (and the British northern initiative) was forced to surrender ten days later at Saratoga.

Of further interest to the region, as with so many other parts of America are the place names which have emerged from the Revolutionary War period.  In the case of this particular corner of New York is the nearby ‘Hessian Lake’, which given American feelings toward the mercenary Hessian force employed by the British, not just in this engagement  but throughout the war, is perhaps a little surprising.

 More images from Fort Montgomery..

The Battery (red dot on plan which follows..)

 The Powder Magazine (‘d’ on the Plan)

Plan of the fort

Click image for more information

 And finally….

I see no more ships, so it must be time for a lemonade!..


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