AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE SEPARATELY PUBLISHED BROADSHEET MAP OF THE NAPOLEONIC WARS in an EARLIER UNRECORDED STATE. In early 1798 France invaded Switzerland following internal struggles which would lead to the old Swiss Confederacy collapsing. In March the French took control of the forces of Bern. Switzerland had until this point maintained neutrality since the French Revolution. It would lead to an Austro-Russian army conducting a campaign in 1799 and 1800 illustrated by this map. It was undertaken by the legendary General Alexander Suvorov against French forces in Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland.
Suvorov at this point was nearly seventy years old but had won sixty-three battles in his military career. Noting the date of this maps publication on 25 May, Suvorov moved westward rapidly from 19 April towards the Adda River covering 300 miles in 18 days. On the 27 April he defeated Jean Victor Moreau in the battle of Cassano and entered Milan on 29 April. Within two weeks he had defeated Moreau again at Morengo and moved on Turin.
The French General MacDonald moved north from Naples to assist Moreau in June and pinch Suvorov’s forces. In a brilliant manoeuvre Suvorov concentrated his forces on MacDonald beating them at the Trebbia River. Rapidly turning round he then pushed all the French forces to the Riviera taking the fortress of Mantua on 28 July. A rapidly changing situation was clearly the cause of a second issue which survives in the British Library dated 19 June 1799. This bears a small extension sheet to the south.
John Fairburn (fl.1790-c.1820) was a publisher, geographer and map seller who first traded at 146 Minories, London. He is known to have issued other broadsides of the Battle of the Nile, usually in a smaller format. He, along with his son of the same name, became synonymous with the popular production of sixpenny chapbooks. The Bishopsgate Institute holds a large collection of these. Its curator stated in 2012 that ‘All his work – without exception – was patriotic never seditious, but he was a supporter of democracy and what we would call ‘human rights,’ which he would call ‘the rights of man.’ He’s also quite clear about the equality of the sexes, supports Catholic emancipation, the abolition of slavery and stands against ill-treatment in the Navy’ (‘John Fairburn’s Chapbooks’, Spitalfields Life, 16 September 2012, www.spitalfieldslife.com).
The map is ‘Drawn and Engraved by Robert Rowe’ with whom Fairburn had published an exceedingly rare set of cards of the counties of England and Wales in 1798. Rowe (1775?-1843) would himself publish a magnificent folio County Atlas in 1816 surviving in just four known examples. Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).