A very early map of the siege of Boston

J. Almon (publisher), Map of the Environs of Boston. Drawn at Boston in June 1775. London; August 28, 1775.
Engraving, 7.5"h x 10"w, uncolored
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One of the earliest obtainable maps relating to the Revolution, this map is based on an original drawn in June 1775, probably only days before the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The depiction of Boston proper is striking-at the time, the city was essentially an island linked to the mainland via a narrow causeway. No street detail is given, but the Common, Mill Pond and Long and Hancock’s Wharves are identified.

Though small in scale, the plan conveys well the military situation in the early stages of the American siege of British-occupied Boston. Among the military details shown are the Provincial (i.e., Washington’s) headquarters in Cambridge; fortifications at either end of Boston Neck; the camps and lines of Generals Putnam and Ward; Copp’s, North, and South Batteries in Boston proper, and ships and batteries surrounding Charlestown.

The siege lasted until March 1776, when on the night of the 4th the American army fortified Dorchester Heights to the south, giving them command of both the town and its harbor approaches. A planned British assault on the Heights was called off due to bad weather, and the city was evacuated on March 17.

The map was published in the August 1775 issue of J. Almon’s The Remembrancer, one of the many monthly journals combining literary reprints, original contributions and news that proliferated in mid-18th century England. Though sufficiently successful (or perhaps merely sufficiently tenacious) to be published from 1775-1784, The Remembrancer must have had a very small circulation, as Jolly describes its maps as “practically unobtainable.” (p. 3)

Scarcity and references
The plan is listed in Boston Engineering Department, List of Maps of Boston, p. 24; Jolly, Maps of America in Periodicals Before 1800, #274; Nebenzahl, A Bibliography of Printed Battle Plans of the American Revolution, #4; and Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, vol. VI pp. 208-209.

Condition

About very good for a magazine plan. Fold as issued plus a couple of additional creases, some overall toning and scattered very faint foxing, left margin trimmed almost to neat line.