This lovely large-scale map depicts the Hudson River-Lake George-Lake Champlain corridor, the key invasion route between Canada and the Middle Colonies during the Colonial era. The major waterways and their tributaries are shown in great detail, including depth soundings as far North as Albany and navigational hazards on Lake Champlain. Hachuring is indicates elevations along the River.
In light of Sauthier’s military training and the unsettled times the human geography focuses primarily on major roads and the region’s many forts. Several notes provide information on portages and references to military actions on Lake Champlain in October 1776, when the map was first published. This is the third state, with the altered Faden imprint and the addition of two lettered references “X” and “A.”
This map was published relatively early in the Revolution, when the British viewed control of the Hudson as key to putting down the rebellion. Control of the river would in theory at least cut the Northern colonies off from the rest and enable a “divide and conquer” strategy.
In the Fall of 1776 a large British force under Guy Carleton attempted a first invasion via Lake Champlain. Though a number of successful engagements on the Lake enabled the British to claim a tactical victory, a scratch-built American fleet under Benedict Arnold forced Carleton to turn back following the Battle of Valcour’s Island. Sauthier’s map includes a number of annotations locating key engagements in this campaign.
In early 1777 the British decided to try once again to split the Colonies. They designed a three-prong attack, with the main efforts being a pincer attack up the Hudson from New York City and an invasion from Quebec, aided by a diversion via Lake Ontario. After much lobbying, on Feb. 20, 1777 General John Burgoyne was selected to lead the invasion from the North. The entire strategy ended in catastrophe for the British, as the diversion failed, the attack from New York never materialized, and the unsupported Burgoyne surrendered his trapped army at Saratoga.
Claude Joseph Sauthier and the British mapping of New York
A native of France, Sauthier came to the Colonies in 1767 and was employed by Governor Tryon of North Carolina. When in 1771 Tryon took the same post in New York, Sauthier accompanied him and soon went to work on a survey of the eastern part of the province, which at the time included all of present-day Vermont. In 1771 Sauthier was also involved in running the boundary line between New York and Quebec at the 45 th parallel. During the Revolution William Faden published a number of maps based on his New York surveys. These culminated in the monumental Chorographical Map of New York, which covered eastern New York, Vermont, and parts of surrounding provinces.
Several other British military surveyors were active in the Hudson River-Lake George-Lake Champlain region, including William Brassier (under Lord Amherst), Samuel Holland (under the Board of Trade and Plantations), John Montresor (under General Gage), and Bernard Ratzer . Each produced maps that were ultimately published by the houses of Dury, Faden, Kitchin and/or Sayer.
For example, it appears that the present map by Sauthier derives quite heavily-directly or indirectly-from William Brassier’s 1762 survey of Lakes Champlain and George. The geographical features are almost identical the nomenclature strikingly similar. That said there are small differences that indicate that Sauthier relied on other sources in addition to Brassier.
Familiar as we are with the inefficiencies of government, perhaps we should not be surprised at these often redundant efforts, each produced by experts working for different parts of the British civil and military administration.
Stevens and Tree, “Comparative Cartography” in Tooley, The Mapping of America, #23c. Cumming`s British Maps of Colonial America provides a brief biography of Sauthier, pp. 72-74. Harley et al., Mapping the American Revolutionary War has excellent essays on the more general topic of British military surveying and mapmaking in the American Colonies during this era.
Some very faint residual foxing after cleaning, else excellent.