A111 - Plymouth Bay
The overall effect of this chart (and plan) of Plymouth MA is simplicity, accuracy and beauty. It bears no published date, but is identical to later states of the chart included in the Atlantic Neptune folio, except that the land is unusually tinted blue, almost as though the colorist confused the sea and and the land. In other respects it equates to the 1781 published versions.
- J.F.W. Des Barres
- h27.5" x w20.5"
The chart shows a great deal of detail from north of the Duxborough River to the mouth of Ell River south of the town. J.F.W. Des Barres' publication shows detailed topography is based on an original survey probably undertaken by Thomas Wheeler and Charles Blaskowitz who likely collaborated on it.
Included are property, boundaries and homesteads. The depiction of fields and marsh land is exquisite and the colour tones used gives the whole image a very soft texture. The town of Plymouth clearly shows both road lay-out and wharfs. In all likelihood the hydrographical information was compiled by Lt. John Knight who was also working in the region at the time. In this case it shows soundings, sand banks and vital tidal information.
In 1775 Blaskowitz presented a copy of his survey of Plymouth to the Town's Guild, only a later C19th copy of which still exists. Along with other towns in the region, Plymouth supplied a force of Marines to the British army in 1774 under Major John Pitcairn, but a combination of poor weather clothing, equipment, training, discipline and leadership proved to be a problem. This was a common theme for George Washington, who also relied on local militia and he struggled more, at times, with his own 'Rabble-in-Arms' than he did with the British. There are tales of some of the disgruntled men selling their equipment to buy the local rum and a number who died from lethal doses. Under Major John Pitcairn's leadership and example the men from Plymouth did, eventually, become an efficient fighting force.
The strategic importance of Plymouth, just 50 miles or so south of Boston, was not diminished because the war by-passed the region after the siege of Boston. Although subsequent operations were focused around New York, Plymouth remained a significant harbor and sea port, especially to the Americans who used it as a base from which privateers loyal to the Patriot cause engaged in numerous raids on Royal Navy and auxiliary ships, hindering the British effort and supply routes.
Amongst the detail included in the chart is the labelling of Clark's Island to the South of Duxborough or Duxbury as it is known now. Either the surveyors or Des Barres himself labelled the island 'Clark's or Watson's Island'. The apparent indecision as to what to call the island is a reflection of changing times. Ever since the Pilgrim Fathers had arrived at Plymouth in 1620 the island was named Clark's Island after the first mate of the Mayflower who saved them from almost certain death by sheltering the craft by the island in a dreadful storm. It was also the scene of the first Service held by the pilgrims where they "gave God thanks for his mercies in their manifold deliverances" on December 20, 1620.
At the time of Publication of the chart by Des Barres in 1781 the Island had been granted to the Watson family who were prominent Tory supporters of the King of England.
- Plymouth Bay