Course of the River Mississippi from Balise to Fort Chartres…


Engraving with original outline coloring


Published, Robert Sayer, London, 1775

Engraving with original outline coloring

Paper size 47 ½ x 22”

p.m. 44 ¾ x 14 ⅛”

Fine engraved map of the Mississippi "from the Balise to Fort Chartres; taken on an expedition to the Illinois, in the latter end of the year 1765. By Lieut. (John) Ross of the 34th Regiment: Improved from the surveys of the river made by the French", the title upper right, showing forts, Native American villages, quarries, mines, boundaries, fertile land, cane fields, soundings in the Gulf of Mexico, with descriptive notes and a note on "Depths of the Mississipi", with original hand-colour in outline. 

Ross' large scale map of the Mississippi River is one of the few large forma maps of the River published during the 18th century. This was the first official English survey of the Lower Mississippi, significantly delineating the British gains from France in the French-Indian War. It later established the future Western boundary of the New United States. The map opened the area to settlement from the East and defined the Western limits of he American colonies. This is the most detailed survey of the Mississippi River from the period of the American Revolution, depicting an economically and strategically important area of French America at the beginning of the war. The vast sweep of the river had provided the French with a tremendous trade route along which a highly lucrative fur trade had evolved. Lieutenant John Ross, surveyor of the 34th Regiment of the British Army, set out in 1765 to map this increasingly important region on behalf of the British government. His expedition mapped the river's course from the tip of the Mississippi Delta to "Fort Chartres," about 75 miles south of St. Louis Ross's map provides a fascinating insight into the knowledge and settlement of the river during this early period. He depicts the river's course in excellent detail, providing fort and village names, as well as well as information on local Indian populations and regional history. In the delta region, there is navigational information for ships approaching the river's entrance, and as the river winds its way north, Ross shows evidence of German settlements, abandoned French forts and informative topographical detail. He notes the point where Spanish explorer Ferdinand de Soto first discovered the Mississippi in 1541, and to the west of the river he marks the locations of Native American tribes and villages. Ross's work is a landmark in the cartography of the Mississippi River, and an engaging document of American colonial history.

Published in Thomas Jeffrey's celebrated "The American Atlas" by Sayer and Bennett in 1775. Arguably the most important 18th-century atlas of America, depicting North America as Revolutionary War raged between the United States and England, and described by Walter Ristow as a "geographical description of the whole continent of America, as portrayed in the best available maps in the latter half of the eighteenth century... as a major cartographic reference work it was, very likely, consulted by American, English, and French civilian administrators and military officers during the Revolution." Jefferys died in November 1771 and his successors, Robert Sayer and John Bennett, gathered together these separately published maps to form The American Atlas.

About the Artist

Lieut. Ross