1856 Major Delafield Large Antique Map of The Harbor & City of Cherbourg, France

Cartographer :Major Richard Delafield

  • Title : Plan of the Harbour and City of Cherbourg with its Fortifications
  • Size: 29 1/2in x 19in (750mm x 485mm)
  • Condition: (A) Very Good Condition
  • Date : 1856
  • Ref #:  90135

This large, scarce, original lithograph antique map of the harbour and city of Cherbourg, France during the Crimea War was published by the American Army Officer Major Richard Delafield in his 1856 report to the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, Report on the Art of War in Europe in 1854, 1855, and 1856 The lithography was completed by Bowen & Co of Philadelphia.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: -
Colors used: -
General color appearance: -
Paper size: - 29 1/2in x 19in (750mm x 485mm)
Plate size: - 29 1/2in x 19in (750mm x 485mm)
Margins: - Min 1/2in (12mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - Folds as issued, light age toning along folds
Verso: - Folds re-enforced with archival tape

Cherbourg Harbour is a harbour situated at the northern end of the Cotentin peninsula, on the English Channel coastline in northwestern France. With a surface area of 1,500 hectares, it is the second largest artificial harbour in the world, after the 4,500 hectare Ras Laffan Harbour in Qatar. Cherbourg has been used for mercantile shipping as well as a naval base.
It was begun in 1783, with its central harbour wall completed in 1853 - this was 3.64 km long, an average of 100m wide at its base and an average of 12 m wide at its top, and sited 4 km from the coast. Three forts were added to the central wall in 1860.
Construction began in 1783 and was completed in 70 years, by three architects - La Bretonnière, Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Joseph Cachin. The first trunk was laid on 6 June 1784, one kilometre from Île Pelée, and the harbour was filled with 300 to 400 boats ferrying stone from the port at Becquet to the mole to build against the trunks. However, the first trunks were severely damaged by storms. On 22 June 1786 Louis XVI made his only trip away from Paris and Versailles to see how far work on the harbour had progressed and assisted in sinking the ninth stone section. Cessarts plans were finally scotched in 1788, with funding having run out and the French Revolution imminent. This marked a return to La Bretonnières plan, but in the period between 1789 and 1790 Dumouriez and Cessart left Cherbourg. Subsidies for the project were cut in 1790 and La Bretonnière was forced to hand in his resignation in 1792. Despite a law passed on 1 August 1792 ordering the construction of the military outer port, all works were suspended from 1792 to 1802.
In 1802, intending to make Cherbourg one of his main military ports in preparation for his invasion of the United Kingdom, Napoleon I ordered that work on the harbour wall be resumed to La Bretonnières plans, by building up the central section to mount cannon. A decree of 25 germinal year XI (1803) ordered the engineer Cachin to excavate the military outer harbour at lac de Moeris - this was opened on 27 August 1813 in the presence of empress Marie-Louise of Austria. That decree also ordered the construction of a new arsenal at the port. 1803 also saw Cherbourgs harbour fend off British attacks and become a base for privateers.
Works on the central wall were again interrupted between 1813 and 1832 and were only finally completed in 1853 under Napoleon III of France, with the western and eastern harbour walls only completed in 1895. The period also saw the opening of two basins in the naval base - the Charles X basin (begun in 1814—290 x220 x18 metres) on 25 August 1829 in the Dauphins presence, and the Napoléon III basin (begun in 1836—420 x200 x18 metres) on 7 August 1858 by Napoleon III and his wife. Work on the harbour was fully completed under the French Third Republic, with the addition of the eastern (1890–1894) and western (1889–1896) walls and the construction of a Petite rade (digue du Hommet, 1899–1914, and digue des Flamands, 1921–1922). Charles Maurice Cabart Danneville made an entry point in the harbours eastern breakwater, the digue Collignon, so that fishing boats could get out of the harbour rapidly, in case of emergency. That entry point later became the passe Cabart-Danneville. The breakwaters also resisted demolition by the Germans in 1944 during the battle of Cherbourg.

Delafield, Richard Major General 1798 - 1873
Delafield was a United States Army officer for 52 years. He served as superintendent of the United States Military Academy for 12 years. At the start of the American Civil War, then Colonel Delafield helped equip and send volunteers from New York to the Union Army. He also was in command of defences around New York harbor from 1861 to April 1864. On April 22, 1864, he was promoted to Brigadier General in the Regular Army of the United States and Chief of Engineers. On March 8, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Delafield for appointment to the grade of brevet major general in the Regular Army, to rank from March 13, 1865, and the United States Senate confirmed the appointment on May 4, 1866, reconfirmed due to a technicality on July 14, 1866. He retired from the US Army on August 8, 1866. He later served on two commissions relating to improvements to Boston Harbor and to lighthouses. He also served as a regent of the Smithsonian Institution.
Delafield served as assistant engineer in the construction of Hampton Roads defences from 1819–1824 and was in charge of fortifications and surveys in the Mississippi River delta area in 1824-1832. While superintendent of repair work on the Cumberland Road east of the Ohio River, he designed and built Dunlaps Creek Bridge in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the first cast-iron tubular-arch bridge in the United States. Commissioned a major of engineers in July 1838, he was appointed superintendent of the Military Academy after the fire of 1838 and served till 1845. He designed the new buildings and the new cadet uniform that first displayed the castle insignia. He superintended the construction of coast defences for New York Harbor from 1846 to 1855.
In the beginning of 1855, Delafield was appointed by the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis a head of the board of officers, later called The Delafield Commission, and sent to Europe to study the European military. The board included Captain George B. McClellan and Major Alfred Mordecai. They inspected the state of the military in Great Britain, Germany, the Austrian Empire, France, Belgium, and Russia, and served as military observers during the Crimean War. After his return in April 1856, Delafield submitted a report which was later published as a book by Congress, Report on the Art of War in Europe in 1854, 1855, and 1856. The book was suppressed during the American Civil War due to fears that it would be instructive to Confederate engineers as it contained multiple drawings and descriptions of military fortifications.
Delafield served as superintendent of the Military Academy again in 1856-1861. In January 1861, he was succeeded by Captain Pierre G. T. Beauregard, who was dismissed shortly after Beauregards home state of Louisiana seceded from the Union, and Delafield returned as superintendent serving until March 1, 1861. In the beginning of the Civil War he advised the governor of New York Edwin D. Morgan during the volunteer force creation. Then, in 1861–1864, he was put in charge of New York Harbor defences, including Governors Island and Fort at Sandy Hook. On May 19, 1864, he was commissioned a brigadier-general after replacing Joseph Gilbert Totten, who had died, as the Chief of Engineers, United States Army Corps of Engineers, on April 22, 1864. He stayed in charge of the Bureau of Engineers of the War Department until his retirement on August 8, 1866. On March 8, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Delafield for appointment to the grade of brevet major general in the Regular Army of the United States, to rank from March 13, 1865, and the United States Senate confirmed the appointment on May 4, 1866 and reconfirmed it due to a technicality on July 14, 1866.After retirement Delafield served as a regent of the Smithsonian Institution and a member of the Lighthouse Board. He died in Washington, D.C. on November 5, 1873.