1755 map of the northern theatre of the French and Indian War

A MAP OF NEW ENGLAND & ye Country adjacent, extending Northward to Quebec, & Westward to Niagara, on Lake Ontario; shewing Gen: Shirley and Gen: Johnson’s Routes, & many places omitted in other Maps; Communicated by a Gentleman who resided in these parts. London: W. Owen, [November] 1755.
Engraving on laid paper, 8”h x 6 7/8”w at neat line plus margins, later wash and outline color. Gentle toning and some minor soiling in margins, but better than very good.

An interesting 1755 map from the General Magazine depicting the northern theatre of the French and Indian War, issued at the end of a year of almost unmitigated disasters for the British.

 In 1755 Major General Braddock, British Commander-in-Chief in North America, had designed a three-pronged campaign to turn back French incursions that threatened the northern colonies. The first, a thrust at Fort Duquesne on the Ohio River, ended wretchedly when Braddock’s force was annihilated in an ambush. Then an expedition against Fort Niagara under Massachusetts Governor Shirley sputtered to a halt due to logistical problems.

Finally, a large force of New Englanders, New Yorkers and several hundred Mohawk allies under command of Indian trader and agent William Johnson advanced toward the French Fort Frederick on Lake Champlain. On September 8 Johnson encountered at Lake George a large force of Canadian militia, allied Indians augmented and a few French regulars under command of Baron Dieskau. Though Johnson’s advance on Fort Frederick was halted, the French-led force was badly mauled, sufficiently so that the battle was billed a great British victory. Coming on the heels of Braddock’s calamitous defeat, the so-called Battle of Lake George caused a sensation among the colonial and British public.

Offered here is a map from the General Magazine of Arts and Sciences for November 1755, meant to illustrate a letter from Johnson reporting on the Battle of Lake George. It depicts the theatre of war, from Quebec in the north to Lake Ontario in the west and New Jersey in the south, and including all of New England. Quite a few American, British and French forts are identified, and the routes of Shirley and Johnson are indicated by dashed lines. Three valuable insets depict Fort Oswego on Lake Ontario, Fort Duquesne on the Ohio River, and Fort Frederick on Lake Champlain. The plan of Fort Duquesne is quite detailed and of particular interest, as it was based on one drawn by Virginia militia officer Robert Stobo during his imprisonment there in 1754, then smuggled out with the help of a friendly Indian.

Accompanying an early account of what was billed as a major victory, this map of the theatre of war would presumably have been viewed with the greatest interest.

Jolly, Maps of America in Periodicals Before 1800, #52. McCorkle, New England in Early Printed Maps, #755.27. Sellers & Van Ee, Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, #64.