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Maps & Reports on the Second Seminole War & Western Frontier Defense

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545.     UNITED STATES. CONGRESS. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, For the Second Session of the Twenty-Fourth, and First and Second Sessions of the Twenty-fifth Congress, Commencing March 1, 1837, and Ending March 1, 1838. Selected and Edited, under the Authority of Congress by Asbury Dickins, Secretary of the Senate, and John W. Forney, Clerk of the House of Representatives. Vol. VII, Military Affairs. Washington: Published by Gales & Seaton, 1861. [i-v] vi-viii, [1] 2-1056 pp., 8 lithograph maps, some folding, one colored in outline (maps show frontier fort system and Native Americans in the immediate Transmississippi West region; Florida and the Second Seminole War; Western Arkansas frontier; Saginaw). Thick folio (33.5 x 22 cm), original three quarter tan sheep over blue marbled boards, spine with gilt ruling and title, raised bands, matching marbled endpapers. Professionally rebacked, preserving original spine and endpapers. Slightly shelf worn (marbled papers lightly abraded in a few places), corners lightly bumped. Interior fine except for foxing to flyleaves. Two maps with professionally repaired tears (no losses). Pastedown with old engraved bookplate of Jefferson College Library with ink manuscript notes and pencil note “Natchez.”

     First edition of Vol. VII of Class V (Military Affairs) from the Second Series of the massive 38-volume compilation of the Congressional Serial set documenting legislation from 1789-1838; the time period covered in the present volume is March 1, 1837, to March 1, 1838. Howes A212 (“b”). Sabin 1228 (remarking on the 38-volume series in general): “This valuable work was printed by order of the United States Government, and distributed through the Members of Congress. It contains reprints, not only of all the early occasional publications of the Congress that could be found, but many important papers from the Archives of the Government never before published. The Second Series having been published several years after the first, is often found separately.” Sabin 1229 (citing the Second Series, 1858-1861).

     This volume contains copious details and documentation on the official relations of the U.S. government with Native Americans. To name only a one such topic, in this weighty tome are found the minutiae of the events leading up to and details of the Second Seminole War, which resulted from Seminole resistance to removal to a reservation. Three maps accompany the many reports on this event: [1] Copy of a Map of the Seat of War in Florida by Lieutenant J.E. Johns[t]on prepared May 20, 1836. This map shows the route taken by Major Francis Langhorne Dade from Fort Brooke on Tampa Bay on his way to Fort King to subdue Native American rebellion. The troops were ambushed and massacred on December 28, 1835, just north of the Little Withlacoochee River, and Dade was killed by the first shot (all but three of his troops died). This event precipitated the Second Seminole War. An inset shows the battleground. Phillips, America, p. 823n. [2] Camp Izard on the Ouithlacoochee River by Capt. Williams. This map shows the Seminole War camp on the Withlacoochee River, the seat of a battle on January 31, 1836, and General Gaines’ track of February 28th 1836. [3] A Map of the Seat of War in Florida in 1836. The map depicts the area on the east coast of Florida from San Augustine to New Smyrna and the west coast from Wacassa Bay to Charlotte Harbor. Delineated are troop routes of General Eustis, Colonel Goodwin, et al., villages, military installations, battle grounds, roads, waterways, and topographical features. Phillips, America, p. 328n. Maps like these assisted in providing solid knowledge of Florida’s interior, previously mysterious and daunting to U.S. forces. No longer did the Seminole have so much of an advantage in their familiarity with the terrain.

     Of Texas and Transmississippi West interest are various reports and two maps related to defending and securing of the then Western frontier. In the present volume, Charles Gratiot discusses the Texas frontier, remarking that it needs to be garrisoned because the population of Texas itself is so small that they cannot prevent Native American raids (pp. 779-781). Joel Poinsett’s reports confirm Gratiot’s opinions and recommend that the proposed forts be built (pp. 777-778). Related information and the maps are found in Streeter Texas 1338 (Letter from the Secretary of War, transmitting Various Reports in relation to the Protection of the Western Frontier, 25th Cong., 2d Sess. House. War Dept. Doc. No. 59). The two maps accompanying this topic are reissues of those found in Streeter 1338 and Wheat, Transmississippi West #426 & #427. They both relate to Burr’s map found in the Gaines’ report (Streeter 1328 and Wheat 432).

Map Illustrating the plan of the defences of the Western & North Western Frontier, as proposed by Charles Gratiot, in his report of Oct. 31, 1837 compiled in the U.S. Topographical Bureau under the direction of Col. J.J. Abert, U.S.T.E. by W. Hood [above upper neat line at right] Mil. Aff.-Vol. VII. No. 753-B [below neat line] Bowen & Co. Lith. Philada. [table shaded pink at lower left] Table of approximate distances of the military posts and depots included in the system of defence…. Lithograph map with outline color in red and blue. Neat line to neat line: 53.3 x 38.1 cm. Phillips, America, p. 891. Located are U.S. forts and various tribes and their territories and cessions, including Seminole, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Osage, Arkansas, and many more. The map extends north to south from north of Fort Snelling to Galveston Bay and east to west from the north fork of the Platte to east of Lake Pontchartrain, Memphis, and Jefferson Barracks. East Texas is shown (Nacogdoches and other place names), along with Fort Towson on the Red River.

Map Illustrating the plan of the defences of the Western & North Western Frontier, as proposed by the Hon. J.R. Poinsett Sec. of War in his report of Dec. 30, 1837, compiled in the U.S. Topographical Bureau under the direction of Col. J.J. Abert, U.S.T.E. by W. Hood [above upper neat line at right] Mil. Aff.-Vol. VII. No. 753-A [below neat line] Bowen & Co. Lith. Philada. Lithograph map. Neat line to neat line: 53.8 x 38 cm. Phillips, America, p. 891. This map is similar to the preceding map, but omits the table of distances and incorporates Poinsett’s suggested proposals.

     The content expands far beyond the regional highlights we have discussed. Apparently, not only was the West in danger, because one report discusses fortifying the harbor at New Haven, Connecticut. Other sections treat of various weapons, such as rifles, revolvers, and cannon (Colt is mentioned as a possible government supplier of weapons). The reports and maps document the earliest work of several of the men who would on July 4, 1838, become the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers (Abert, Johnston, Hood, et al.), “a central institution of Manifest Destiny” (p. 4, Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 1803-1863).


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