Notes on the Environs of York


This pen-and-ink and watercolor manuscript map of 1781 shows the area from Williamsburg to Yorktown, between the James and York Rivers, at the time of the Battle of Yorktown, which took place in September‒October of that year. Williamsburg was founded in 1632, and it was the capital of colonial Virginia from 1699 until 1780. York (more commonly known as Yorktown after the Revolutionary War) was founded in 1691 and became a major port for the export of tobacco. The map shows roads, houses, hospitals, and a church, and it gives the names of some local landowners. It also shows Burwell’s Ferry, Halfway House, mills, bridges, creeks, and various other places of interest. The text on the right side of the map, in French, contains notes on many of the sites indicated on the map and the role that they played in the battle. Some of the sites are indicated by letter. No scale is given, but the map approximates to 1:44,000. Yorktown was the last major land battle of the Revolutionary War. The defeat of the British and the surrender of their army under General Lord Cornwallis led to peace negotiations and conclusion of the Treaty of Paris of September 3, 1783, which officially ended hostilities and brought international 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