Four Positions of the French Fleet and the Positions of the English Fleet


This pen-and-ink and watercolor manuscript map dates from 1780. It shows the positions and movements of French and English ships-of-war during an unnamed naval battle off the coast of Rhode Island during the Revolutionary War. The French vessels are listed by name and associated number on the map; the English vessels are only noted by a generic x. The French ships were part of the fleet commanded by Admiral Charles Louis de Ternay that conveyed the French expeditionary army led by General Rochambeau to North America. Ternay’s fleet departed Brest on April 15, 1780 and arrived at Narragansett Bay on July 10 of that year. Compass readings for the relative positions of the ships are given in the middle of the map. The upper-right quadrant of the map shows the primary formation of the ships, followed by second, third, and fourth formations in counter-clockwise fashion throughout the evolution of the battle. The map has tears and other slight imperfections, particularly on the folds and creases. 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