“THE BEST CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNT OF THE REVOLUTION FROM THE BRITISH SIDE”: STEDMAN’S HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WAR, WITH 15 LARGE MAPS (11 FOLDING) OF “GREAT INTEREST AND VALUE”
History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War.
Item Number: 99225
London: Printed for the Author and Sold by J. Murray, et al, 1794.
First edition, wide-margined copy, of Stedman’s massive contemporary two-volume History of the American Revolution— “the standard work on the subject” —containing 15 military maps and plans (11 folding, the largest nearly 20 by 30 inches). Two volumes, handsomely bound in contemporary calf, green morocco labels, half-titles to both volumes. In very good condition, rebacked laying down the original backstrips. Rare and desirable with the half-title pages.
Philadelphia-born military historian Charles Stedman was a Loyalist who served “with the British at Lexington and Bunker Hill, later became commissary to the army of Sir William Howe, and was with Cornwallis in the South” (New International Encyclopedia 21:485). Taken prisoner by American forces, he was sentenced to be hanged as a rebel but escaped. At war’s end Stedman moved to England where he authored this authoritative two-volume History—“considered the best contemporary account of the Revolution from the British side” (Sabin 91057). As “the standard work on the subject,” Stedman’s History especially benefits from eyewitness accounts of many campaigns (DNB). In addition, “the military maps and surveys in the History are of great interest and value” (Allibone, 2231). Here Stedman argues that Britain’s defeat was largely due to the failure of its politicians and ministers, and “the military genius of Britain was unimpaired; she rose with elastic force under every blow.” Ultimately, he concludes that the American Revolution “came as a surprise to the world… no invading army, in the present enlightened period, can be successful, in a country where the people are tolerably united” (449). These two volumes feature folding strategic plans of the Battle of Bunker Hill, attacks on Forts Clinton and Montgomery, and the Sieges of Charleston, Savannah and Yorktown, along with maps of Long Island and the Catawba River.