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<p>Complete map</p>


[MAP]. ARISTA, Mariano, Joseph Goldsborough Bruff & John Disturnell (publisher). A Correct Map of the Seat of War in Mexico. Being a Copy of Genl. Arista’s Map, Taken at Resaca de la Palma, with Additions and Corrections; Embellished with Diagrams of the Battles of 8th. & 9th. May, and Capture of Monterey, with a Memorandum of Forces Engaged, Results, &c. and Plan of Vera Cruz and Castle of San Juan de Ulua. New York; Published by J. Disturnell. No. 2, Broadway, 1847. Designed by J.G. Bruff Washington D.C. Revised Edition.[lower left above neat line] On Stone by J. Probst | Entered According to Act of Congress, in the Year 1847, by J.G. Bruff, in the Clerk’s Office of the Dist. Court of the Southern Dist. of New York; [lower right above neat line] Lith. of E. Jones & G.W. Newman, 128 Fulton St.; [top center: large American eagle with flag, banners, shield, rays of light above, clouds below]; [beneath eagle, on scroll] Table of Distances; [left center: U.S. cavalryman riding full speed over two Mexicans as smoke and dust fly through the air]; [below cavalryman, Explanation to map, including flag marker symbol for towns “having been taken possession of by the Am. forces”]; [table at lower center] Heights of Towns & Mountains; [four inset maps at upper right and along right margin]: [1] Diagram of the Battleground Feb. 22d and 23d;[2] Plan of Monterey;[3] Map Showing the Battle Grounds of the 8th. and 9th. May 1846; [4] Chart of the Bay of Vera Cruz, Drawn by Order of V. Admiral Baudin; [scroll at right] Memorandum of the Battles of 8th. & 9th. May Palo Alto...Resaca de la Palma...; [horizontal city and bay view at lower center] Vera Cruz and Castle of San Juan de Ulua. New York: John Disturnell, 1847. Lithograph map within line border with ornamental corners, original bright outline coloring in rose, green, blue, yellow, and orange, border to border: 62.5 x 49.5 cm; overall sheet size: 76.5 x 61 cm. 12mo (15 x 9.5 cm) original purple cloth pocket covers, gilt lettering on upper cover Map of the Seat of War in Mexico, both covers elaborately blind-embossed. Covers somewhat worn and faded with hinge reinforced. Expertly washed and backed with thin tissue, consolidating a few fold splits, otherwise exceptionally fine. Difficult to find in this condition.

Revised edition of the second most important map of the Mexican-American War, the foremost being John Disturnell’s so-called “Treaty Map” (see herein). The present map is an intermediate issue, with features added as the war progressed. For example, here is added the view Vera Cruz and Castle of San Juan de Ulua. We have seen three versions of this map, all with the same title and dated 1847. Day, p. 45 (another edition). Garrett & Goodwin, pp. 413-414, note other variations; for example, sometimes the map is found uncolored, rather than colored (as here). The map was available as a sheet map or in the preferable pocket map format (as here). Jones, Adventures in Americana 1156. Phillips, America, p. 410. Rumsey 97 (another edition, without the view of Vera Cruz or Plan of Monterey): “Scarce map with drawings by Bruff. According to Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers (revised edition, Vol. II, p. 199), Bruff created other maps, e.g.: State of Florida, 1846; Tehuantepec maps, 1851; Seat of War in Virginia, 1861. From the introduction to his travel diary, it is clear that Bruff drew for the Topographical Engineers and other government departments for over fifty years. Many of his productions may not have his name on them—he is quoted in the introduction (p. xxx) saying that he drew duplicates of the Frémont maps and plates for both houses of Congress.” Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, mentions the map in the note to entry #583: “In 1847 Bruff had made a Mexican War map which, though it is without the bounds of the present study, is worth citing.”

Visually, this map is among the liveliest Mexican-American War images, depicting Manifest Destiny in full-tilt cartographical mode. The map was created by talented artist, draftsman, historian, and topographer J. Goldsborough Bruff (1804-1889), “author of an unusually full, precise, and carefully documented gold rush journal. It is a fine example of Bruff’s maturity, his precision as a West Point graduate, and his skill as an artist and observer cultivated as a draftsman in the U.S. Bureau of Topographical Engineers” (Hart, Companion to California, p. 54).

This map is most interesting for its impact on the course of the war and how it came into the hands of the U.S. Army and thence to the U.S. Topographical Engineers. For a discussion of the evolution of this rare printed map, see Jack Jackson’s article “General Taylor’s ‘Astonishing’ Map of Northeastern Mexico” (Southwestern Historical Quarterly CI:2, October, 1997, pp. 143-173; map illustrated). As the title of the map indicates, the map is “a copy of Genl. Arista’s map, taken at Resaca de la Palma, with additions and corrections.” Jackson asserts that the success of General Zachary Taylor’s Army of Occupation in the Lower Rio Grande and Northern Mexico was due to two factors: Arista’s map and the services of the spy companies of Texas Rangers. Quoting Jackson:

[Arista’s] map...offered an incredibly detailed picture of the states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, and Coahuila—far superior to Austin’s published map of 1830 or anything available to Americans in the meantime.... It incorporated all the latest topographical information available by 1840. In addition to the most current understanding of these three states, their rivers, roads, settlements, and other features as seen on the map, a table of distances from place to place...was also included in the margin. In short, Arista’s map proved more valuable to General Taylor’s campaign than any of the other loot captured on the Resaca de la Palma battlefield. It gave Taylor the knowledge he needed to penetrate southward, and the scouting expeditions of the Rangers resolved any doubt on questionable points.... Bruff and Disturnell’s printed version of Arista’s manuscript map was not the first printed map based on Arista’s captured map, but it was perhaps the most impressive version of the Arista map to be published.... Not only did [the Arista map] play a decisive role in General Taylor’s military campaign and go on to influence the maps of commercial producers like Disturnell, but it gave Mexican officials a better understanding of their own frontier as the nation struggled to face the immense territorial loss occasioned by the war with the United States.

Matthew H. Edney says of Bruff’s map: “The several wars fought by the United States during the mid- and late-nineteenth century attracted a great deal of popular cartographic attention. Much of the popular mapping associated with wars focused on the sites of conflict, as with...J.G. Bruff’s 1847 broadside of the central theater of war in Mexico [which] publicized U.S. victories there, after the fact featured flags or symbols which could be cut out and moved across the map.... [Bruff’s map] inevitably emphasized the expansive nature of the Republic” (Manifest Destiny and the Popular Mapping of Wars. Osher Library exhibit, University of Southern Maine <>

Texas is shown as far east as Corpus Christi Bay (marking General Taylor’s march from that point to Resaca de la Palma and Palo Alto) and west to Presidio del Rio Grande (showing Wool’s crossing of the Rio Grande into Mexico). Needless to say, Arista, who commanded the Mexican forces in Texas, would have hardly recognized his map in its present form.


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