A305 - A chart of the Delaware River showing Philadelphia
The full title of this chart reads; 'A chart of Delaware River from Bombay Hook to Ridley Creek and A plan of the Delaware River from Chester to Philadelphia' this two-part chart of the Delaware River was surveyed at different times but published in 1779 as an informative compilation. It was composed and published by J.F.W. Des Barres for inclusion in the Atlantic Neptune folio.
- 1777 & 1779
- Lieuts. John Hunter & John Knight, J.F.W. des Barres
- h31.5" x w23.5"
The first survey of the lower part of the river (shown on in the left -hand panel) from Bombay Hook, where it enters Delaware Bay, up to Chester was completed in 1779 with Soundings &c taken by Lt. Knight of the Navy. It includes little information other than soundings and points of anchorage as this section of the river was clearly of little significance, with few settlements of note and little to defend or attack.
The second survey (right-hand panel) from Chester up to Philadelphia has the land tinted brown with a yellow border. This upper section of the river was surveyed by Lieutenant John Hunter of the Navy in November 1777 just after the British had occupied Philadelphia (see Heritage Charts A309). This upper section of the river was of great significance to both the Americans and the British as it gets closer to Philadelphia, which was then the largest city in America and its new Capital.
Of special interest on this survey are the forts on Mud Island, Red Bank and further south at Fort Billings, and the location of the Chevaux de Frizes' (sunken sharpened stakes with metal tips) which were designed to force ships under the guns of the adjacent forts. 
This chart also shows the position of the British ships as they made their way up the river clearing it from the threat of American land and water defenses. Lieutenants Hunter and Knight were part of a team of surveyors and hydrographers who worked together at this time, charting the important rivers of the Middle States.
These 'middle' States were extremely valuable to both the Colonial powers and to the invading British forces as they afforded such good access into the interior. Captain Andrew Snape Hammond summed the situation up extremely well when he wrote 'on account of the Navigable Rivers of this Country, there is no part of this Country, there is no part of the continent where ships can assist land operations more.' He was writing of the Chesapeake at the time but he might just as well have been writing of the Delaware. The principle was the same.
Captain Snape-Hammond had, himself, reconnoitered and surveyed the river between March and May of 1776 (see Heritage Charts A302) and had reported the state and position of rebel defenses to Admiral Richard Howe and to his brother General William Howe before they set-out on their campaign in July 1776 to capture Philadelphia (see also Heritage Charts A205).
As history would have it, General Howe's decision to turn British attention south, to capture Philadelphia after securing New York, rather than pushing North to join with General Burgoyne in Albany, ultimately proved fatal to the British campaign to retain their American colonies. Howe's decision to attack Philadelphia by sea rather than to press through by land from New Jersey only served to take the pressure off Washington's retreating army, giving them a valuable month with which to regroup.
- A chart of the Delaware River showing Philadelphia