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Early Issue of an Ever-Evolving Mexican-American War Map

[MAP]. MITCHELL, S[amuel] Augustus. Map of Mexico, including Yucatan & Upper California, exhibiting the Chief Cities and Towns, the Principal Travelling Routes &c. Philadelphia: Published by S. Augustus Mitchell, N.E. Corner of Market and Seventh Sts. 1846. Entered according to the Act of Congress in the Year 1846 by S. Augustus Mitchell, in the Clerk’s office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. [inset plan of Monterrey and surrounding area, at top right] The Late Battlefield. [flags marking battlefields of the Alamo, San Jacinto, Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, and Monterrey]. Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, 1846 (copyright 1846). Lithograph map on thin wove paper, within decorative border, original hand-coloring with bright rose outline around Texas in its Emory conformation and overreaching Panhandle, yellow decorative border, battle plan at top with full-color wash (pink) in background, Mexico and Upper California in full color. Neat line to neat line: 44 x 64 cm; plan at top right: 15.3 x 19.3 cm. Trimmed close, else very fine with excellent color retention.

First edition, second issue of this popular, rapidly evolving map documenting progress of the Mexican-American War, here with inset plan at top entitled The Late Battlefield (with pink wash background); dated 1846; without the lower Road Between Mexico & Vera Cruz; and other variations. The first edition came out in 1846 and is easily identifiable because the copyright and imprint dates both read 1846 (Streeter Sale 3868; Taliaferro, Cartographic Sources in the Rosenberg Library 284); the very first issue had the inset map at upper right uncolored. The third edition (Rumsey 4594; Streeter 3869; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #548; Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region #35) was extensively revised, including addition of Map of the Principal Roads from Vera Cruz and Alvarado to the City of Mexico and profile below; reduction of the overall area shown to between approximately 86 and 120 degrees of longitude, thereby reducing the area by about seven degrees (here the area shown is between approximately 83 and 123 degrees of longitude). Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 (p. 417), list an unspecified early issue. Various incarnations of this map have passed through our hands over the years, most of which exhibit yet more evidence of persistent revision and the likelihood of a plethora of cartobibliographical variances deserving full analysis and study.

The map is a simplified, adapted version of Mitchell’s 1846 New Map of Texas, Oregon and California with the Regions Adjoining (see Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #254). As soon as the conflict was underway, Mitchell saw that there would be a demand for maps detailing the events in the theater of war, so he quickly came out with a folding map of Mexico with Texas shown with a red outline in its relative position, its panhandle extending to the 42nd parallel. The map was very much a war map, with topographical information kept to a minimum, but roads, towns, political divisions, and rivers clearly shown. Mitchell updated this map as news of events arrived, adding, for instance, flags indicating the sites of recent battles and other details such as rivers, towns, tribes, and Mayan ruins. 


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