A unique contemporary manuscript plan of the 1778 Battle of Monmouth, which secured Washington’s role as “Father of the Nation”

Lieutenant [George Walker Dyall] Jones, Sketch of the Skirmish between ye Rear of the British Army under the Command of his Excellency Genl Sir H. Clinton and the Advanced Corps of ye Rebel Army June 28th. 1778. [New Jersey, ca. 1778.]
Pen and ink with wash and spot color on a 11”h x 16”w sheet of 18th-century laid paper with watermark possibly reading “IV HUEDAR”. Two old vertical folds and two horizontal folds flattened; one of the vertical folds with some slight weakening reinforced with leafcasting on verso. Five small wormholes not affecting the drawn image and a few marginal chips, all filled with leafcasting.

Finely-executed contemporary manuscript plan of the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey, the last major engagement of the Northern Theater of the American Revolution, drawn by a participant.

The Battle of Monmouth occurred on June 28th, 1778, as British forces were relocating en masse from Philadelphia to their new headquarters at New York. This was the first opportunity for the Continental Army to fight as a professional force, following a Winter and Spring of training at Valley Forge under Washington and von Steuben. It was a rare time that American forces held the battlefield after going toe-to-toe with the British, and though the battle was strategically inconclusive, at the time it was a major boost to American morale. American officers, the Continental Congress, and the American press interpreted it as a major success for the Continental Army, and for George Washington specifically. The action is seen as a coming of age for the Continental Army and it did much to elevate Washington to his role as “Father of the Nation.”

This battle plan depicts the latter half of the encounter, after General Charles Lee’s infamous miscarried initial assault on the British and George Washington’s arrival on the scene. The action depicted started in the early-to-mid afternoon with the British attack on Washington’s line at Perrine’s Hill and the subsequent British retreat and conclusion of the battle.

The plan is rendered in black ink and wash, with highlights in red, blue, and green watercolor; it shows Freehold, New Jersey, Monmouth Court House, Freehold Court House, the roads and paths in the area, and the battlefield to the northwest. The well-positioned “Rebel” artillery on a hill to the west are shown firing on a flanked detachment of British Light Horse, Grenadiers, and artillery. For most units, two positions are shown—where they were at the outset of the battle, and where they were “after action.”

George Walker Dyall Jones
The map is signed in the lower left margin “Lieut. Jones Royal Fusileers”. This is surely George Walker Dyall Jones, the only lieutenant by the name of Jones recorded with the Royal Fusiliers, aka the 7th Regiment of Foot, during the American Revolution.

The son of Andrew and Elizabeth Jones of Warwick, United Kingdom, Jones was baptized on the 19th of April 1745. He apprenticed as a toy-maker to Edward Gibbons of Birmingham in 1759. Jones married Sophie Zincke of Lambeth at Westminster March 12, 1771, but the marriage seems to have been ill-fated. They had a son, Christian Dyall Jones, who was born and died at Lambeth in 1772, and the couple divorced in 1795.

The timing of Jones’ early military career is somewhat difficult to parse, with different sources offering somewhat conflicting information. Suffice it to say that in 1772 he entered the 44th Regiment of Foot as an Ensign, and in 1778 or 1779 was promoted to Lieutenant and shifted to the 7th Regiment, also known as the Royal Fusiliers. The exact timing of this is not clear, but the essential point is that both the 44th and the 7th were present at Monmouth, making it likely that Jones participated in the events depicted on this plan of the battle.

In the capacity of assistant engineer under one Captain Hartcup, Jones later accompanied an expedition in 1780 under Sir George Collier to reinforce Fort George at Castine, Maine. This deployment yielded five manuscript maps and views bearing his name, representing Jones’ entire known output, save for the present plan of Monmouth. Four are held by the Clements Library, one of which may be viewed here, and the fifth by the Bangor (Maine) Public Library.

Other maps and plans of the Battle of Monmouth
Until now, the formal British mapping of the Battle of Monmouth was known exclusively from the manuscript maps of John Hills (fl. 177-1816/17), a British military engineer, surveyor and draughtsman. Hills produced at least four manuscript maps focusing specifically on the Battle of Monmouth, three of which are held at the Library of Congress (click here, here and here) and the fourth at the Clements (here).

Hills was attached to the 38th Regiment of Foot in June 1778. At that time, the 38th was stationed in New York City, and it had no direct involvement in the Battle of Monmouth. When the 44th decamped to Rhode Island later in 1778, Hills remained in New York and began his employment as a draftsman under John Montresor, the Chief Engineer of British forces in North America. Indeed, it seems that most of Hills produced most of his output came while stationed in New York, an opportune location for gathering, compiling, and copying maps, but not particularly for surveying and drawing original works.

While Hills’ and Jones’ plans of Monmouth bear a certain similarity, Hills’ works all share a title that differs somewhat from the of Jones, cover a rather larger area in the direction of Middletown, and include an inset “Sketch” of Middletown itself. These significant differences, coupled with a great number of smaller differences in how the events themselves are depicted, strongly suggest that the Jones and Hills maps are based on different sources. Given that Jones’ unit, the 44th, was actually present at Monmouth, while Hills was with the 38th in New York, we are inclined to assign priority to this map by Jones.

Michel Captain du Chesnoy (1746-1804), a member of Lafayette’s staff, drew a detailed eyewitness plan of the battle, which is now held by the Library of Congress. This was the source for the only early printed map of the battle, which was published in Brussels in 1782.