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Carte de la Dominique prise par les François Le 7 septembre 1778. . .
Selling price: $850
This very finely engraved map depicts the French invasion of Dominica during the Revolutionary War, and captures the nature of this rugged Caribbean isle in great detail. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful islands of the Caribbean, its intensely mountainous topography and fierce Caribbean inhabitants long resisted European settlement.
The present map shows the island divided into ten parishes, each outlined with its own color. The old capital of Portsmouth, with its streets laid out, is depicted in the north of the island, while the new capital, Roseau, and the nearby town of Charlottesville appear in the southwest. This area also features numerous fortifications, most notably Fort Cachacrou, that had been hastily built by the British to repel the expected French invasion. The map details anchorages, churches, villages and roads, and the mountains that dominate the island are expressed by finely engraved hatchings. The Caribbean native reservation, which still exists to this day, is depicted on the northeast coast.
Importantly, the large inset on the lower left of the map details the French naval invasion of the island which occurred on September 7th, 1778. France had recently declared hostilities on Britain, joining the Revolutionary War, and very much desired to capture Dominica in order to avenge their loss of the island to Britain in 1763. The French dispatched a massive invading force from Martinique under the Marquis de Bouillé, which consisted of almost 5,000 troops. The British line of fortifications that ran from just north of Roseau to Fort Cachacrou is portrayed in great detail. A key explains how the invasion unfolded, and indicated that the British commander Major Bruce, stood no chance against such an overwhelmingly superior force.
The British were soon forced to capitulate, and the French, with the support of the mainly Gallic citizenry, remained in firm possession of the island for the next few years. On April 12th, 1782 British Admiral George Romney decisively defeated the main French Caribbean fleet under the Comte de Grassee at the Battle of the Saints, within sight of Dominica's northern tip. While Romney did not land on Dominica, the French defeat ensured that they were forced to relinquish Dominica to the British in 1784, following the end of the war.
Jean Nicolas Buache, the Premier Géographe to Louis XVI, based this map on two works printed in London during the English occupation of the island. As stated on this map, he consulted John Byres's 1766 map which was the first to chart the interior of the island. He also consulted Thomas Jefferys's fine 1775 map of Dominica, which benefited from the results of the first triangulated surveys of the island conducted by the British from 1765 to 1773.
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