This rare engraving from Charles Smith’s Monthly Military Repository is the first detailed battle plan of White Plains to be printed in the United States.
The battle was violent but inconclusive. Following his decisive victories in Brooklyn and Manhattan, the British commander William Howe somehow allowed Washington to get the remnants of his army away over the Harlem River and to take up a strong position on high ground near the village of White Plains. Unable to draw the Americans into open battle, Howe avoided a direct assault on their main force but did capture Chatterton’s Hill on their left. Howe failed to follow up on the opportunity to flank the Americans, however, and instead chose to return his army to capture Fort Washington at the northern end of Manhattan, where Washington had left behind several thousand men.
The plan is derived from a section of a plan first issued separately by William Faden in 1777 and reissued by Charles Stedman his History of the Origin, Progress and Termination of the American War (1794). The only difference we have identified from the prototype is a change of names: For reasons unclear, “Spencers Corp” on the American right is here labeled “McDougals Corps.”
The Monthly Military Repository
Published in parts between 1796-97, Smith’s Repository included instruction on military strategy, conduct, and clothing, extracts from histories of European wars and, more importantly descriptions of American Revolutionary battles. Most of the descriptions for the American battles were taken from the writings of Baron Steuben and Gen. Horatio Gates. Included were a series of revolutionary battle plans based on prototypes published in London. In 1797 Smith reissued the American material from the Repository in a single volume under the title The American War.
This plan seldom appears on the market on its own, though volumes of the Military Repository and The American War do turn up on occasion. One or more of the plans are usually missing, however, and those present are invariably rather battered. This is the third and by far the best example of the White Plains plan we have handled.
Jolly, Maps of America in Periodicals before 1800, #455; Nebenzahl, Printed Battle Plans of the American Revolution, #101 (describing the Faden-Stedman plan); Wheat & Brun, Maps & Charts Published in America before 1800, #373.
Cleaned and flattened. Small section of upper margin reinstated with a ¼" segment of neat line in facsimile.