Rochambeau’s Army, 1782. Map of the Williamsburg, Virginia Area, Where the French and American Armies Camped out in September 1781


This topographic pen-and-ink and watercolor manuscript map of the Williamsburg, Virginia, area was made in 1782 by Jean Nicolas Desandrouins, a French army engineer and cartographer, shortly after the October 1781 Battle of Yorktown. It shows the encampments and positions of the French and American forces in September 1781, on the eve of the battle. The map provides a detailed plan of Williamsburg and its environs, and shows the location of estates, towns, and other significant sites. It shows houses and public buildings in Williamsburg, plantations in the countryside, roads, creeks, ferries, mills, the “New Magazine,” and it gives the names of some local residents. A numbered key identifies military units, public buildings, and other points of interest. The map is oriented with north to the left. Relief is shown by hachures. Scale is given in toises, an old French unit measuring almost 1.95 meters. Yorktown, the last major land battle of the Revolutionary War, ended with the surrender of the British army under Lord Cornwallis to the combined French and American force and ultimately led to the Treaty of Paris of 1783 and British recognition of American independence. The map is from the Rochambeau Collection at the Library of Congress, which consists of 40 manuscript maps, 26 printed maps, and a manuscript atlas that belonged to Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725‒1807), commander in chief of the French expeditionary army (1780‒82) during the American Revolution. Some of the maps were used by Rochambeau during the war. Dating from 1717 to 1795, the maps cover much of eastern North America, from Newfoundland and Labrador in the north to Haiti in the south. The collection includes maps of cities, maps showing Revolutionary War battles and military campaigns, and early state maps from the 1790s.

Last updated: January 8, 2018