Map of the City of Charlestown, its Entrenchments, and the Siege by the English in 1780

Description

This hand-drawn French pen-and-ink and watercolor map from 1780 is a detailed plan of Charlestown (present-day Charleston), South Carolina, during the British siege, which lasted from early April 1780 until the surrender of the city on May 14 of that year. The map shows American defenses and British parallels, entrenchments, and batteries, such as Coming’s Point (here spelled “Cummin’s Point). Coming’s Point was one of a series of defense works that were constructed on the edge of the harbor when it became evident that the British attack would come from the south and west. From the end of March a whole regiment was encamped at Battery Number One on Cummins Point. The maps shows streets such as Broad Street, Church Street, Queen Street, King Street, Meeting Street, Orange Street, and Tradd Street, all of which exist to the present day and retain their 18th century names. The “New Church” depicted is Saint Michael’s Church, which was constructed between 1751 and 1761 and sits on the original site of Saint Philip’s Church, built in 1681 and demolished in 1727, some years after it was damaged in a hurricane. The “Old Church” depicted is the second site of Saint Philip’s Church, which was constructed there in 1723. The map also shows the State House (the site of the present-day Charleston County Courthouse), arsenal, markets, and the exchange. Scale is given in toises, an old French unit of measurement equal to about 1.95 meters. A lengthy descriptive text provides a chronology of the construction of the British works and the subsequent capitulation, a description of the condition and extent of the American fortifications when the British arrived outside Charleston, and various battle statistics. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Plan de la ville de Charlestown, de ses retranchements et du siege faits par les Anglois en 1780

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : manuscript, pen-and-ink and watercolor ; 28 x 42 centimeters

Notes

  • Scale approximately 1:10,320

References

  1. John R. Sellers and Patricia Molen Van Ee, compilers, Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750-1789: A Guide to the Collections in the Library of Congress (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1981).  http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015016327986.
  2. Preservation Society of Charleston, “32. Coming’s Point Battery,” (Halsey Map, Alfred O. Halsey Map Preservation Research Project, 1949). http://www.halseymap.com/flash/window.asp?HMID=54.

Last updated: August 10, 2017