A Plan of the Town and Harbour of Boston. and the Country adjacent with the Road from Boston to Concord Shewing the Place of the late Engagement
Maps were an important form of news gathering and reporting during the American Revolution. Most were created by engineers in the British army and often they depicted military campaigns or battles, providing not only important intelligence about the topography and geography of a region, but also, as in the case with this map, a narrative of the events of the conflict.
This is the first battle map of the Revolutionary War. This copperplate engraving by J. De Costa was printed in London three months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord and is based on a manuscript map drawn by an unknown cartographer in Lord Percy’s command.
The use of pictorial symbols, rather than rectangles and lines to represent the troops and their movements, was unusual but not unprecedented. This map is the only one to feature the marches of the British forces and battle sites. It shows actual British troops moving out of Boston and engaging with the colonials, complete with gunfire and fallen soldiers, as well as the location of the “Bridge where the attack began.” It also illustrates the British retreat, noting “Provincials firing behind the walls”; minutemen who just got the call on the road to join the fight; encampments and fortifications; and a keyed list of all the ships in Boston Harbor. But this map also indicates the situation after the battles, as it includes representations of the encampments of American forces in the siege of Boston that occurred throughout the spring and summer of 1775. The key also references Bunker Hill and the battle that took place there on June 17, 1775.
De Costa dedicated the map to Richard Whitworth (d. 1811), a member of Parliament from 1768 to 1780, who was likely his patron. Whitworth and others in politics and influential positions used maps throughout the war to better understand the conflict and its progression and to make political and military decisions and policies.