A122 - Portland Sound, Hussey Sound, Broad Sound to Rogers Bay
An historic chart of one of the most beautiful sections of coast on the north eastern seaboard of the United States showing Falmouth (now Portland).
- J.F.W. Des Barres
- h33.5" x w46"
This historic chart of the coastline of Casco Bay which reaches from Portland Sound up to Rogers Bay is full of detail, both hydrographic and geographic. It was printed and published by Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres for inclusion in his magnificent 1777 publication 'The Atlantic Neptune' which was prepared for the British Admiralty in order to assist in the safe passage of His Majesty's Navy up and down the North American sea board.
The original land surveys for this chart were completed by George Sproule as of 1772. Sproule's surveys (K.Top. 120.19, K. Top. 120.120.1), appart from being utilised by Des Barres was amalgamated into a larger (smaller scale) surveys of the coast of Main and New Brunswick now held in the Untied Kingdom Hydrographic Office (A9450 3c) They were supported by hydrographic surveys completed by Lt. Henry Mowat of the survey support ship HMS Canceaux, when it wasn't chasing pirates and smuggleres through the miriad of islands and channels in the region.
The chart was printed using copperplates and the painstaking process of engraving the plates for this chart has been achieved in the same style as a number of other Des Barres publications held in the Heritage Charts collection. The original document was stored folded for several hundred years, and the staining on the chart is the imprint of the ink on the folded page.
As with all the other Des Barres' publications, land relief is shown through hatchuring and includes much detail about settlements, land division, buildings and roads. The soundings are all concentrated around the major inlets channels and harbors which had potential as shelter for British shipping but more than not shelter for smuggler and American pirates.
Casco Bay's great number of islands are faithfully recorded by Sproule and, subsequently, Des Barres on this chart. A popular myth is that there are enough islands for every day of the year, hence they are sometimes called the 'Calendar islands' In reality, there are less than two hundred of them, but still more than enough to challenge even the best of mariners. This is unquestionably one of the most treacherous stretches of coastline o the easter seaboard.
After the end of the French Indian war in 1763 the British had scoured the coast looking for safe harbors for their fleet anywhere between New York and Halifax. It should be noted that amongst the place names which appear on the chart is that of Falmouth which today is known as Portland.
In the early days of the Revolutionary War, in May 1775 when the British army was under siege in Boston, local Patriots in Falmouth captured several ships carrying supplies for Boston and weaponry from Fort Pownall at the mouth of the river. The British Vice-Admiral, Samuel Graves, then in charge of the Royal Navy supply chain to the troops in Boston, was under orders from his superiors (issued in July 1775 and received by him on October 4) to 'carry on such Operations upon the Sea Coasts ... as you shall judge most effective for suppressing ... the Rebellion.' Vice Admiral Graves ordered Captain Mowat to 'lay waste burn and destroy such Sea Port towns as are accessible to His Majesty's ships...'. Mowat, Commander of HMS Canceaux, being by all accounts an amiable fellow, drafted a letter to the people of Falmouth (Portland) warning them of what was about to befall them, and offering refuge for British Loyalists.
The aftermath of the raid proved very expensive for the British. Many buildings and houses had been destroyed or damaged and in the harbor eleven small vessels were destroyed and four captured. Although very few direct casualties were reported - one man was killed and one wounded. - the townsfolk were left to fend for themselves for the winter, with no lodging, eating or housekeeping to be had in the town.
The overall cost of the loss was put at about £50,000. News of the raid was met with outrage by Congress who resolved a recommendation that all provinces declare themselves self-governing and independent of British rule or influence, and that plans for a Continental Navy be advanced. Propagandists had a field-day citing cruelty and The Massachusetts Provincial Congress authorized the licensing of privateer actions against the British Navy, which was to be a thorn in the side of the British for years to come. The careers of both Graves and Mowat suffered as a consequence of the action.
See also Heritage Charts A127
- Portland Sound, Hussey Sound, Broad Sound to Rogers Bay