The “Percy Map”: Maps and Military Strategy during the Revolution


The Cartographic Image of New England and Strategic Planning during the Revolutionary War

high-resolution image

Patriot’s Day ~ 19 April 1998

The Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education is pleased to make available to the people of the State of Maine a map of New England owned and used by Hugh, Earl Percy, one of the more able of the British generals during the American Revolutionary War. Section I explores how Lord Percy ~ who is renowned for preventing the complete defeat of the British at the hands of the Minutemen at Lexington ~ used maps for a variety of military purposes. This particular map has had many roads added in pencil and ink throughout southern New England and most likely served as a strategic planning document. We also include a listing of resources on military mapping available at the Osher Map Library.

Section II explores the map itself. The work is an impression of John Green’s Map of the most Inhabited Part of New England, published in London by Thomas Jefferys. When it was first published in 1755, the map represented the English claim to the region in the face of opposing territorial claims by the French. Of particular importance in this respect is the coincidence of the highly expressive title cartouche with the map’s depiction of New England as a coherent region defined by the common territorial and political unit of the township. Green was actually indebted for his vision of the region to the pioneering cartography of William Douglass. Douglass’s map formed the unacknowledged core element in Green’s construction of his map.

Discussion of these topics is supported by an annotated bibliography, a cartobibliography of the relevant maps, and extensive quotations from William Douglass’s writings. When you have finished reading this web site, please take some time to acknowledge the creators and contributors to this web site and to send comments and suggestions to the staff of the Osher Map Library. You can also follow links to the Osher Map Library’s other web sites.


Website prepared by Matthew H. Edney, April 1998; edited December 2012.

Note that some of this website’s argument was developed further (at times significantly) and published as:

  • Edney, Matthew H. 2003. “New England Mapped: The Creation of a Colonial Territory.” In La cartografia europea tra primo Rinascimento e fine dell’Illuminismo: Atti del Convegno internazionale «The Making of European Cartography», Firenze BNCF-IUE, 13-15 dicembre 2001, ed. Diogo Ramada Curto, Angelo Cattaneo, and André Ferrand de Almeida, 155-76. Florence: Leo S. Olshki Editore.
  • Edney, Matthew H. 2008. “John Mitchell’s Map of North America (1755): A Study of the Use and Publication of Official Maps in Eighteenth-Century Britain.” Imago Mundi 60.1:63-85.
  • Edney, Matthew H. 2012. “Hugh, Earl Percy Remakes His Map of New England.” Portolan no.84: 27-37.