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John Hills Position of British Forces around Elizabeth Town PointA battle plan is any map depicting military events in a defined locale over a short period of time, including for example skirmishes, pitched battles and sieges.  What makes them particularly interesting is not simply the inherent, horrifying drama of war, but the challenge of conveying not only geographic phenomena but events as they take place over time: The designer of a battle plan must condense four-dimensional events into the two dimensions of a sheet of paper.

One finds an enormous variety of formats and styles of battle plan, governed by the skills and sources of the draughtsman; the conventions of the time, place and culture within which he worked; and his motivations.  Some are quite limited in their ambitions, such as this 1745 plan of the Siege of Louisbourg.  Others are complex, attempting to compress a complex sequence of events on a single sheet, such as this 1755 plan of the Battle of Lake George. They range from the unadorned, such as this woodcut plan of the Siege of Boston in a 1775 almanac, to ornate examples of the genre such as this 1781 plan of the Battle of Yorktown.

Another way battle plans vary is in the degree to which they highlight the maker’s own sympathies.  For example the battle plans issued by William Faden during the Revolutionary War tend to be straightforward and technical, such as this plan of the 1775-76 American Siege of Quebec. By contrast, this plan of the 1874 “White League Revolt” in New Orleans explicitly celebrates the attack on the Reconstruction government of the state.



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A very early map of the siege of Boston

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 […]

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A very early map of the siege of Boston

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 […]

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Scarce and unusual plan of Revolutionary Boston

A scarce map of the Boston area issued during the earliest phase of the Revolution. This image was published in the Scots Magazine, less than two months after the June 17, 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill and while the British were still besieged in Boston. The map is striking for its unusual circular format, which does […]

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The first printed map of the American Revolution

The Pennsylvania Magazine was the sole periodical published in the America during the Revolution, appearing monthly between January 1775 and July 1776. Edited for much of its run by Thomas Paine, it had a truly American character, including literary and philosophical essays, book reviews, scientific and technical articles, and of course the latest news of military […]

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Early and scarce American plan relating to the Revolution in Boston

Following the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill in the Spring of 1775, the nascent American army kept the British army bottled up in Boston. However, with the only land access across the narrow Boston Neck and the British in complete control of the sea, the Americans had no hope of taking the city […]

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BRM2363 Bachelder Gettysburg birds eye 1863

Magnificient bird’s-eye view of the Battle of Gettysburg

A spectacular and remarkably informative depiction of the battle that marked the turning point of the Civil War. The view was published in late 1863, within months of the events depicted, and marked the beginning of John Bachelder’s three-decade career documenting and depicting the battle in prose, maps and prints. Here he depicts the battlefield in tremendous detail […]

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1783 Phelipeau map of the United States with Yorktown plan

Rare 1783 map of the United States, with a large Yorktown inset

A fine separately-issued map, among the earliest to depict the boundaries of the United States established by the Treaty of Paris and with a contemporary plan of the Yorktown campaign. The map depicts North America from Newfoundland to Florida and west just beyond the Mississippi River. Its most significant feature is the line of small […]

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MAP OF THE BATTLE FIELD OF GETTYSBURG. JULY 1ST, 2ND, 3RD 1863. / FIRST DAY’S BATTLE [with:] SECOND DAY’S BATTLE [with:] THIRD DAY’S BATTLE.

Bachelder’s monumental maps of the Battle of Gettysburg

A monumental set of three plans by John Bachelder depicting each day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil and the turning point of the Civil War. John Bachelder (1825-1894) was a painter, lithographer, photographer and historian. Early in his career he produced an important and appealing […]

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Rare broadside of the Battle of Bunker Hill

Rare broadside battle plan of the Battle of Bunker Hill, including a valuable letterpress account by General John Burgoyne. The June 17, 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill was the first significant encounter of the Revolution after the opening hostilities at Lexington and Concord. If those first encounters furnished the colonists with impetus to mobilize against Great Britain, […]

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Major Sebastian Bauman / R. Scot Sculp., To His Excellency Gen Washington Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States of America. This Plan of the investment of York and Gloucester has been surveyed and laid down, and is most humbly dedicated by his Excellencys Obedient and very humble servant, Sebastn. Bauman Major of the New York or 2nd Regt of Artillery. [Philadelphia,] 1782.

“A cornerstone document of our national heritage” (Nebenzahl)

The most desirable printed battle plan of the American Revolution. The Battle of Yorktown was decisive in sealing American independence and made a fitting subject for this map, the first large-scale battle plan published in the United States. It was drawn by Major Sebastian Bauman, a prominent American artillery commander who surveyed the battlefield just days […]

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