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2007 Catalog > 4. Smith, Map of the Valley of Mexico


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4. Martin L. Smith and Edmund L. F. Hardcastle. “Map of the Valley of Mexico with a Plan of the Defenses of the Capital and of the Line of Operations of the United States Army under Major General Scott” (New York: J & D Major’s, Lith., 1847). Published in Report of the Secretary of War, communicating, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate, a map of the valley of Mexico, from the surveys by Lieutenants Smith and Hardcastle (Washington, D.C.: Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 11, 31st Congress, 1st sess., 1850). Bound into the report. 26 x 19 1/4" at neat line. Sheet size: 28 x 20 3/4". Map has overall toning; several splits at old folds and corners; several marginal losses along left where attached to report. Map is very good; report is excellent.

Price: SOLD.

After the fall of Mexico City to General Winfield Scott in September 1847, a number of Topographical Engineers remained in the region to prepare battle plans for reports of the campaign. Officers Martin Smith and Edmund Hardcastle were assigned to the valley of Mexico, which they reconnoitered following Scott’s victory. They produced the remarkable map offered here and its report containing each man’s account of the events surrounding the making of the map. About their methodologies, Traas writes: “They accomplished their survey by triangulation and hand compasses, and the cartography accurately depicted the region as it appeared in 1848. . . . . Hardcastle also measured the distance between Mexico City and Vera Cruz by attaching an odometer to a wagon wheel. . . . After Turnbull prepared campaign maps to accompany battle reports, the two topogs incorporated his survey of the area south of the city into their map of the region. Congress later published the report and map.”

The map shows the valley of Mexico from the Aztec city of Zumpango in the north to just south of Mexico City. Topographical features, swamps, lakes, cultivated fields, roads, pueblos, and towns are recorded with precision. The details of Mexico City are especially fine. The route of the U.S. Army is indicated by a red line, while “Mexican works” are noted in blue outline. Battle sites are marked with crossed swords. Smith’s report focuses on the natural features of the map and Hardcastle’s details the movements of the army. The latter is essentially a “memoir,” he notes, “taken from my journal . . . , written out from day to day as the events occurred.” The map and the reports together form a marvelous package about a turning point in the Mexican-American War.

Ref.: Traas, From the Golden Gate to Mexico City: The U.S. Army Topographical Engineers in the Mexican War, 1846–1848, pp. 203–205.

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