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October 26, 2007

Rare Separate Issue on Thick Paper

139. [MAP]. UNITED STATES. ARMY. CORPS OF TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEERS. HARDCASTLE, [Edmund La Fayette], [George Brinton] McClellan & [William] Turnbull. Battles of Mexico. Survey of the Line of Operations of the U.S. Army, under command of Major General Winfield Scott, on the 19th. & 20th. August & on the 8th. 12th. & 13th. September, 1847. Made by Maj. Turnbull, Capt McClellan & Lieut. Hardcastle, Topl. Engs. Drawn by Capt. McClellan [lower left] Bureau Corps T. Engineers, 3d. March 1848. Examined & Approved. J. J. Abert [lithograph signature] Col. Corps T. E. Lithographed & published by C. B. Graham, Washington, D.C. [lower center above neat line] Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1848, by Curtis B. Graham, in the Clerks Office of the District of Columbia; [text with statistics at top left and right] Contreras... Churubusco... Molina del Rey... Chapultepec...; [inset map at lower right, neat line to neat line: 20.5 x 27.6 cm] Part of the Valley of Mexico. [Washington, 1848]. Lithograph map on thick paper, troops and lines of attack and defense shown in outline color (blue for Mexican, red for United States). Neat line to neat line: 60.5 x 86 cm. Light overall darkening, moderate water staining along lower third, blank margins chipped (loss at lower right barely touching neat line), one small void at right margin into neat line (minimal loss), margins moderately darkened, right margin with tear not affecting image, no losses. The map was stored rolled, which accounts for the damage on the right side. On verso in contemporary blue crayon: “No. 14[?] Map of the Battles of Mexico McClellan 1847.” The map was never folded. Although the map is by no means in fine condition, it is a rare survival with only relatively minor battle scars.

            Rare separately issued map, printed on thick paper, lithographed by C. B. Graham, and with variations from other incarnations. American Philosophical Society, “Realms of Gold”: A Catalogue of Maps in the Library of the American Philosophical Society (Memoirs, Volume 195, Philadelphia, 1991) #1506. Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War, p. 429 (last entry on page). The basic map with some alterations, folded, uncolored, and on thin paper was included in U.S. government documents, e.g., Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, at the Commencement of the First Session of the Thirtieth Congress (Executive Document 1, 1847). Mexican lithographer Salazar also issued versions of maps like this one in Mexico. The lava fields portion of the map was reduced for use in Official List of Officers who Marched with the Army under the Command of Major General Winfield Scott, from Puebla upon the City of Mexico (Mexico: American Star, 1848; see entry herein). Finally, the map was reduced and recycled for publications such as Richard McSherry’s El Puchero (Philadelphia, 1850) and Raphael Semmes, Service Afloat and Ashore during the Mexican War (Cincinnati, 1851).

            William H. Goetzmann analyzed the role of Army topographers in the West and the Mexican-American War (Army Exploration in the American West, 1803-1863, Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1991, pp. 151-152):

Though it may be difficult to see a precise connection between armed combat and the accumulation of knowledge for peaceful pursuits, this was the task of the Army topographers during the Mexican War.... All were somehow attuned to the quest for knowledge, and the Corps as a whole was acquiring that geographical information so valuable to those who would be working in similar lands and among similar people in the American West. The theme was epitomized when the victorious American armies battered down the gates of Mexico City to storm the Halls of Montezuma. There, on the height of Chapultepec, in the ruins of the military academy, Lt. Edmund L. F. Hardcastle, Topographical Corps, laid down his saber to pick up the very instruments used by Humboldt himself in mapping the Valley of Mexico.... His map...was made for a very different reason—to portray the final American conquest of the city. Both men, Humboldt and Hardcastle, were gatherers of knowledge, scientists, but their work, once completed, did not amount to the same thing. Humboldt’s data remained in the realm of pure knowledge, while Hardcastle’s descended to the market place of hard political reality to be used for good or evil. When it came to be published, there were those who viewed it, as they did the work of all the Topographical Engineers, in only a political sense. It was an excuse, they said, merely part of some sinister presidential plan to annex all Mexico, and nothing more.

            This classic map, considered the most accurate and detailed of the final engagements of the war, documents the battles around Mexico City and U.S. troop movements through San Angel, Churubusco, Chapultepec, Mexico City, and the Valley of Mexico in general. Statistics at upper left show number of troops involved and men killed, wounded, and missing in each engagement. ($750-1,500)

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