GASCOIGNE, John and William FADEN (1750-1836)
A Plan of the River and Sound of D'Awfoskee, in South Carolina, Survey'd by Captain John Gascoigne.
[London: Jefferys and Faden, 1776]. Copper-engraved sea chart, on a full, untrimmed sheet, in excellent condition. Sheet size: 30 x 21 3/4 inches.
A very rare and highly important sea chart of South Carolina's Hilton Head area, made towards the beginning of the Revolutionary War, in the first state.
This finely engraved map was the finest sea chart of the area available in the early days of the Revolutionary War, and most certainly would have played an important role in the development of strategies by various commanders. It embraces the coastal region of South Carolina, from Port Royal Sound in the north, down past the mouth of the Savannah River and Tybee Island, Georgia, in the south. Prominently featured is Hilton Head Island (called "Trench's Island") and "D'Awfoskee Sound," which is today known as Calibogue Sound. The old name survives on "D'Awfoskee Island," but now spelled Daufauskie, located at the center of the map.
The region has one of the most varied and fascinating histories of any in the American South. Originally inhabited by the Yamassee native tribe, the area first came to the attention of Europeans during the expedition of Francisco Cordillo in 1521. Parris Island, located in Port Royal Sound, in the upper part of the map, was home to two early settlements. In 1562, Jean Ribaut founded a Huguenot settlement, Charlesfort, but the Spaniards did not tolerate its presence and destroyed it in short order. The Spaniards then founded their own fort and Jesuit mission, Santa Elena, nearby in 1566. In 1661, the English formally staked claim to the region, naming it Carolina after Charles II. In 1663, Captain William Hilton sailed from Barbados aboard the Adventure, on a reconnaissance mission to explore his country's new claims. It was then that he encountered a beautiful island, featuring a prominent sandy cape, which he named "Hilton Head." Once ashore, he remarked that the island was blessed with "sweet water" and "clear sweet air." English settlers arrived in the region in the 1670s, but it was not until 1717 that the first Englishman, Col. John Barnwell settled on Hilton Head, having been given a grant of 100 acres in the northwest corner of the island. In the eighteenth-century, the region enjoyed a very successful economy based on plantations and maritime trade, although it was under threat from attacks by both the Spanish and pirates, most notoriously "Blackbeard."
This sea chart was one of the most detailed and accurate of any of the American coastline. The immense detail of the hydrography was the result of surveys conducted by Captain John Gascoigne, assisted by his brother James. In 1728, aboard the HMS Alborough he employed the most sophisticated and modern techniques with exacting attention to detail to produce a manuscript chart. The next year, this chart was altered by Francis Swaine, and it would appear that Swaine's manuscript, or a close copy of it, found its way to the London workshop of William Faden. Faden, the successor to the great Thomas Jefferys, adapted this map from a section of Swaine's manuscript, and the present first state was printed in 1776.
During the American Revolution, this area was an active military theatre. At the outbreak of the war, Hilton Head and most other areas sided with the Americans, however Daufauskie Island fell under British control. Britain's superior naval power allowed its ships to conduct frequent raids along the coast for the duration of the war, however the real threat to the American cause came in December, 1778, when British General Augustin Prevost seized Savannah, determined to use it as a base for further operations. The following February, he dispatched a team of marines to take control of Port Royal Sound. They initially engaged the Americans at Hilton Head before proceeding further up Port Royal Sound. However, the invasion was ultimately repelled by Gen. William Moultrie at Beaufort. On September 24th of the same year, in what was to become known as the Battle of Hilton Head, three British ships were set upon by a trio of French ships allied to the American cause. After a dramatic chase and an intense exchange of cannon fire, the principal British ship, the HMS Experiment, was forced to surrender.
Sellers & Van Ee, Maps & Charts of North America & the West Indies , 1525; Stevens & Tree, "Comparative Cartography," in Tooley, The Mapping of America , 16 (a); Cf. Cumming, British Maps of Colonial America , pp.47-49 and The Southeast in Early Maps , 204.