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“A library of Western Americana is incomplete without it.” (Zamorano 80)

<p>Large map, title</p>


EMORY, William Hemsley, et al. Notes of a Military Reconnaissance, from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California, Including Part of the Arkansas, Del Norte, and Gila Rivers. By W.H. [Emory], Brevet Major, Cor[ps Topographical Engineers.] Made in 1846-7, with the A[dvanced Guard] of the “Army of the We[st.” Was]hington: Wendell and Van Bethuysen, Printers, 1[848].  [1-2] 3-416 pp., 40 plates (including the San Diego plate), 3 maps, large folded map (separate). 8vo (23 x 14.5 cm), original brown cloth, printed paper spine label. Label chipped and rubbed with loss, spine ends rubbed, cloth slightly stained, corners bumped. Some moderate foxing and staining to text, text block slightly cracked; folded map expertly backed consolidating fold splits, some light stains. The title page suffered a major fold-over error; missing text supplied from Plains & Rockies. A copy of the second issue title page naming Emory as “Lieut. Col.” is laid in. With 1849 ink manuscript signature of Kittery, Maine, agriculturalist and local politician J.R. Haley on front flyleaf.


[1] Sketch of the Actions Fought at San Pasqual in Upper California between the Americans and Mexicans Dec. 6th. & 7th. 1846.

[2] Sketch of the Passage of the Rio San Gabriel Upper California by the Americans,—Discomfiting the Opposing Mexican Forces January 8th. 1847.

[3] Sketch of the Battle of Los Angeles Upper California. Fought between the Americans and Mexicans Jany. 9th. 1847.

[4] Military Reconnaissance of the Arkansas Rio del Norte and Rio Gila by W.H. Emory, Lieut. Top. Engr. Assisted from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fé by Lieuts. J.W. Abert and W.G. Peck, and from Santa Fé to San Diego on the Pacific by Lieut. W.H. Warner and Mr. Norman Bestor, Made in 1846-7, with the Advance Guard of the “Army of the West.” Under Command of Brig. Gen. Stephn. W. Kearny Constructed under the Orders of Col. J.J. Abert Ch. Corps Top. Engrs. 1847 Drawn by Joseph Welch. Engraved on Stone by E. Weber & Co. Baltimore. [middle left] Tables of Geographical Positions on the Route and Pursued by the “Army of the West.” (neat line to neat line: 75.6 x 160.1 cm; overall sheet size: 81.5 x 180.2 cm). Washed and professionally stabilized, backed with thin tissue consolidating numerous fold splits. California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present 26. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 544.

Senate edition, first printing with Emory’s rank given as “Brevet Major” and the plates in the preferred state (executed by Edward Weber, many after drawings by John Mix Stanley). (30th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Executive Document 7).

Barrett 2751n. California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present 26. Cowan I, pp. 77-78n, 267-268n; II, p. 195. Edwards, Enduring Desert, p. 77. Graff 1249. Howell 50, California 76. Howes E145. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 33. Rittenhouse 188n. McKelvey, Botanical Explorations of the Trans-Mississippi West, pp. 990-1101. Plains & Rockies IV:148:2. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, Mapping of America, p. 278. Wheat, Transmississippi West 544. Zamorano 80 33: “A library of Western Americana is incomplete without it.”

A work the importance of which it is difficult to overstate. By its descriptions of the route, of flora and fauna, of physical and ethnological features in the plates, and of the vast territory shown by the magnificent map, Emory gave Americans their first comprehensive look at their newly acquired territory, just in time for the Gold Rush. The work was obviously popular as McKelvey demonstrates in her descriptions of over twenty editions and issues.

Edwards gives an amusing and ironic description of how “indispensable” Emory’s work was to 49ers, when it ended up being discarded: “Upon the discovery of gold, [Emory’s] Report became immediately popular, as it afforded the first and only description of the Southern route west to Santa Fe, supplying detailed information relative to watering places, roads, deserts, Indians, plant and animal life.... Some indication of how highly this book of Emory’s was prized by the gold seekers is unintentionally supplied by one of these self-same emigrants (John E. Durivage). While struggling across the treacherous desert, according to Durivage: ‘...not-withstanding we left every article we thought we could possibly dispense with at the Colorado, we deemed it necessary to make still further sacrifices. Away went a bag of beans; out tumbled a suit of clothes; Major Emory’s Report and a canister of powder followed suit; a case of surgical instruments followed; and a jar containing five pounds of quick-silver with a small bag of bullets brought up the rear’” (p. 77)

The map is, of course, one of the very important aspects of the book. Wheat remarks: “In many respects, Emory’s map was the most important milestone in the cartographic development and accurate delineation of the Southwest. In its period only the similarly scientifically based reconnaissance maps of Frémont were its equals” (III, pp. 6-8).

Here are the two important factors regarding the Emory report: (1) completeness, since frequently plates and maps are missing from it; (2) the state of the important plates—the preferred state of the plates of the Emory report should bear attribution to Weber. The matter of collecting preference is complicated by the fact that the House issue of the Emory report is augmented by the valuable reports of Abert and others, making both versions desirable—the Senate issue for the superior plates in Emory’s report, and the House issue for the added reports. Nothing is ever simple on the Emory report, because the augmented House issues vary as to execution of the New Mexico plates.

The iconography and cartography in the Emory report are marvelous. Many of the excellent plates were based on the work of noted Western artist John Mix Stanley (1814-1872), who also served as artist for the northern route on the Pacific Railroad Survey. “[Stanley] is represented by more plates than any other artist employed in any of the surveys, and no early Western artist had more intimate knowledge by personal experience of the American West than did Stanley” (Taft, Artists and Illustrators of the Old West, p. 8). Tyler, Prints of the American West, (illustrating two prints from the Emory report): “Immediately following the [Mexican-American] War, pictures of the newly annexed territories appeared in dozens of different publications, and the government reports were among the most informative and beautifully printed. One of the first to appear was William H. Emory’s Notes of a Military Reconnoissance...which resulted from Col. Stephen Watts Kearny’s invasion of the Southwest.... Artist John Mix Stanley accompanied Kearny.... Emory’s report...contained not only his map of the largely unknown Southwest but also John Mix Stanley’s views.... [Edward] Weber [printed the lithographs] for the Senate version” (pp. 77-80). See also Schwartz & Ehrenberg discussing the iconography and cartography in the Emory report and illustrating one of the lithographs after Stanley’s drawings (pp. 276 & 278).


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