Lot 158: Contemporary Description of the American War by Charles Stedman
05 November 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: The History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War. Charles Stedman (1753-1812). London: printed for the Author, sold by J. Murray, J. Debrett and J. Kerby, 1794. 2 volumes. 4to., (10 x 8 2/8 inches). Without half-titles. 15 fine engraved maps and plans, including 11 folding, and one with an over-flap (many with short closed tears at mounts, one or two browned, some edges creased). Contemporary tree calf (rebacked); preserved in a modern natural linen slipcase and chemises. "THE BEST CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNT OF THE REVOLUTION WRITTEN FROM THE BRITISH SIDE" (Sabin). First edition of the cornerstone of American Revolutionary War literature. Stedman, who served under Howe, Clinton and Cornwallis, describes many of the major battle-fields from first hand knowledge: from Bunker Hill to Yorktown. The fine and detailed maps and plans, show the sieges of Savannah and Charlestown, and the battles of Yorktown, Saratoga, Camden, Guilford and Hobkirk's Hill. "Charles Stedman was educated in law at William and Mary College in Virginia. Like his father he remained loyal to the British crown, and on the outbreak of hostilities he was appointed commissary to the troops under the command of Sir William Howe. His knowledge of the German language assisted him both as interpreter with the German auxiliaries and afterwards as commander of a rifle corps of colonists from the Palatinate. He was twice taken prisoner, and sentenced to be hanged as a rebel, but on each occasion he managed to escape, once from the same prison that held the ill-fated Major Andr?. He was also twice severely wounded. On the conclusion of peace in 1783 Stedman retired to England on the half-pay of a colonel, and was appointed to examine and settle the claims of the American loyalists. In 1794 his History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War was published in London and Dublin: it was well reviewed and remained the standard work on the subject for the next century. It was dedicated to Lord Rawdon, earl of Moira, his former commander-in-chief. Shortly after it appeared Sir Henry Clinton printed Some Observations upon Mr. Stedman's History, which questions the author's accuracy on minor points" (J. S. Cotton, rev. Troy O. Bickham for DNB online). Howes S914; JCB II:372; Lowndes V, p.2504; Sabin 91057; Winsor VI, p.518.
Artist or Maker: Charles Stedman
Literature: Rare book