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Number: 622
Continent: Africa
Region: South
Place Names: South Africa
Year of Origin: 1818
Title: Military Sketch of that part of the COLONY of the CAPE OF GOOD HOPE Bordering on the CAFFRES, and most exposed to their Depredations, with the different MILITARY POSTS, FARMS, ROADS, RIVERS, &C., Faithfully delineated By Lieut. Wily of His Majesty's 83 Regt in the year 1816.
Language: English
Publish Origin: London
Height: 48.7
Width: 47.0
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 300,000
Color Type: No Color
Click for high-resolution zoomable image
Cartographer: W. H. Wily
William Faden
Engraver: John Walker
Publisher: William Faden
Other Contributors:
Northernmost Latitude: -32.5
Southernmost Latitude: -34.15
Westernmost Longitude: 25.44
Easternmost Longitude: 26.8
Measurement Notes: no coordinates on map, but database used modern estimates
Notes: EASTERN CAPE / XHOSA WARS:source Antiquariat Dasa Pahor (Munich Germany)] Copper engraving; Extremely rare; the finest early military map of the Cape Colony's Eastern Frontier, including the modern Port Elizabeth-Grahamstown area, based on reconnaissance mapping conducted by Lieutenant W.H. Wily during the early period of the British-Xhosa Wars, recording valuable information on the conflict and early European settlement, separately issued in London by William Faden; [scale calculated on distance from Port Elizabeth to Grahams town being 112 KM] Author: William FADEN (1749 - 1836). / Lieutenant W.H. WILY. Place and Year: London: William Faden, 1818. Technique: Code: 66026 Copper engraving (Good, exquisitely engraved; once contemporarily, but neatly and evenly, folded into eights with some wear along folds; some fraying to top blank margin; remains of contemporary red wax seal to verso with slight line of wax on the front of map), 62 x 50 cm (24.5 x 19.5 inches). This very rare, separately issued map represents the finest early military survey of the ?Eastern Frontier? of the South Africa?s Cape Colony, taken only decade after the British supplanted the Dutch in the region. The map is based on a reconnaissance survey executed by Lieutenant W.H. Wily of the 83rd Regiment (of whom little is known), during a period of relative calm amidst bouts of warfare between the European settlers and the Xhosa nation that lasted 100 years, between 1779 and 1879, being Africa?s longest-running conflict. The map is exceptionally rich with academically valuable information regarding the state of European settlement and the military situation in the region and is certainly one of the seminal documents of Eastern Cape history from the early British colonial era. The excellent map, orientated with the east on top (with the Indian Ocean on the right side), embraces the Eastern Frontier from a point just west of Cape Recife, on Algoa Bay (near the site of the future Port Elizabeth), all the way past the Great Fish River, the traditional border between the realm of European settlement and ?Cafferland? (the land of the Xhosa). The Xhosa were a nation of cattle ranchers and skilled warriors who had long resisted European encroachment. It is important to note that ?Kafir? is today considered a derogatory term for Black Africans, although curiously the word originally comes from an Arabic term for ?infidel?. The Eastern Frontier consisted of two zones, the lands west of the Bushman River (here ?Boshmans River?), being the future Uitenhage District, was by this time (relatively) secure under British colonial control, while the land in between the Bushman and the Great Fish rivers was known as the Zuurveld (and later named the Albany District), a dangerous buffer zone subject to regular Xhosa invasions and raids. Afrikaner, and more recently, British settlers, nevertheless took the risk of attempting to settle the region, coveting its rich ranch lands. Lieutenant Wily conducted this excellent survey in-between the Fourth Xhosa War (1811-2) and Fifth Xhosa War (1818-9), during which the European homesteads and British army outposts in the Zuurveld, which had been largely overrun by the Xhosa and evacuated, were recently on the recovery. The varied topography is represented by fine hachures, traversed by river ravines. The ?Explanation or References?, in the lower-right corner of the map, notes the symbols used to mark: Military Posts; Military Posts which are now Farms; Posts unoccupied; Farms deserted because of the frequent inroads of the Xhosa; Farms where there are no Troops; Places where troops were once stationed, but are now occupied by Farms; and Villages. All the roads are marked and several named military posts, missionary schools, country general stores and homesteads are depicted, as are ?kraals? (an Afrikaner term for cattle enclosures) and ?drifts?, or fords, which provided passage across rivers. Throughout the map are a series of interesting notes. Many locations are shown to be frequented by animals, such as ?Bush Buck, Porcupines, Wild Boars, Tygers, & c.?, ?Ostriches?, ?Elephants?, ?Jackalls and ?Hippopotami?. Elsewhere, are marked the locations where six ?Rebellious Farmers? were hanged by British officials in 1816; the ?Remains of a Fort built by the Portuguese on their first discovery of the Cape? at the mouth of the Great Fish River; as well as a lengthy description of the Great Fish River, in the upper right of the map. The entire region is shown to be home to only two European villages, ?Uitenhaage? (Uitenhage), founded in 1804; and ?Grahams Town? (Grahamstown), founded in 1812. The map was made before the 1820 establishment of the future major city of Port Elizabeth, on Algoa Bay, the site of which is marked by the ?Block House?, being Fort Frederick, established by the British in 1799 (during their first occupation the Cape from 1795 to 1802). The area west of the Bushman River is shown to be a region of relatively stable, incipient settlement, while the Zuurveld, with its lighter density of settlements and outposts, many of are marked as having been hastily abandoned, is represented as a dangerous ?no man?s? land, ever vulnerable to Xhosa strikes. Wily?s manuscript made its way to London, where it was beautifully engraved and separately issued in 1818 by William Faden (1749 - 1836), the Official Geographer to the Prince Regent, and the British Empire?s most revered map publisher. It was by far and away the best map of the Eastern Frontier both made to date and throughout the early period of British colonial hegemony in South Africa. Interestingly, the present example of the map seems to have been contemporarily folded and sealed from the verso with wax, likely as an attachment to a letter sent from England to South Africa. Indeed, this map would have be greatly valued by British troops and settlers alike, in their ongoing struggle against the determined and resourceful Xhosa nation. A Note on Rarity The present map is very rare; we cannot trace any records of another example as having appeared on the market during the last generation, while we can locate 5 examples of the map in institutions, at the British Library, National Archives U.K., Stanford University Library, Biblioth?ue nationale de France, and at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze. The Cape Colony?s ?Eastern Frontier? & the Xhosa Wars When Britain seized control of the Cape Colony from the Netherlands following its invasion of January 1806, it inherited what would be dubbed ?Africa?s 100 Years War? or, more properly, the Xhosa Wars, which raged along the province?s Eastern Frontier. During the latter period of Dutch rule, the eastern part of the territory shown on the present map, lying between the Bushman and Great Fish Rivers, known to the Afrikaners as the ?Zuurveld?, was fiercely contested between the Netherlands and the Xhosa nation. The Dutch fought three wars against the Xhosa between 1779 and 1803, and while they managed to push the area of Xhosa control westwards, the Zuurveld was generally considered far too dangerous for permanent European settlement. For some years it remained an ill-defined buffer zone, or ?no man?s land?. The British were determined to push the Xhosa presence further westward and to permanently settle the Zuurveld, which contained prime ranch land with easy access to the sea. In 1811, the Xhosa, who (rightly) felt threatened by the British presence, moved in to occupy the Zuurveld. The British considered this to be a provocation and sent a force under Lieutenant-Colonel John Graham to evict the Xhosa in what became known as the Fourth Xhosa War (1811-2). The British succeeded in forcing the Xhosa back across the Great Fish River, and in 1812, Graham?s headquarters became the first permanent British village in the area, known as ?Grahamstown?. The British founded several military outposts, while the braver European farmers established homesteads in the Zuurveld (most of which are marked on the present map). Despite frequent and bloody Xhosa lighting raids from across the Great Fish River, the British seemed to underestimate their opposition. Periods of relative calm ensued, and this only served to increase the British sense of complacency. It was during one of these lulls, in 1816, that Lieutenant Wily made the present reconnaissance survey, which could only have been executed during relatively peaceful conditions. In 1817, the British became embroiled in a dispute with the Xhosa over the question of stolen cattle. This seemingly trivial matter led the British to become involved in an ongoing Xhosa civil conflict, upon which the British had made an enemy of the stronger party, in what became the Fifth Xhosa War (1818-9). The present map was published in London by William Faden just as the war commenced. The British colonial authorities made a severe miscalculation, leaving the Eastern Frontier, and their main base of Grahamstown, thinly protected. On April 22, 1819, Grahamstown?s garrison of only 300 men narrowly survived an assault mounted by a Xhosa army of 10,000 warriors under Chief Nxele. The British high command in Cape Town knew that they had dodged a bullet and that, going forward, a chain of isolated military outposts would be insufficient to contain the Xhosa threat. While the British forces managed to regroup and push the Xhosa back across the Great Fish River, the authorities realised that the Eastern Frontier had to be comprehensibly and quickly settled by loyal British subjects who could provide sufficient manpower and resources for its defence. If this was not realized, it was accepted that the region would be lost to the Xhosa. Turning to the big picture, upon the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Britain experienced high unemployment, with no realistic hope of domestically engaging many hundreds of thousands of its people. The crown encouraged British emigration to ?settler colonies?, overseas domains with climates suitable to European agrarian practices, such as Canada, Australia and South Africa. The Cape?s Eastern Frontier was home to excellent ranch land, supposedly ideal for English emigrants. Thus, the settlement of the region would simultaneously tackle two problems for the British Empire. The present map depicts the region just before its landscape was radically transformed by mass European settlement. In the wake of the Fifth Xhosa War, the British regime sponsored the arrival of the ?1820 Settlers? in the Eastern Frontier. A total of 4,000 settlers arrived in 60 separate parties between April and June 1820. They initially attempted agricultural endeavours, as the Crown had intended; however, as many of settlers had been tradesmen back home, they soon quit their rural homesteads, populating communities such as Grahamstown, Bathurst and Beaufort, developing a service and light manufacturing economy. By the early 1830s, the region?s English settlements were thriving, with Grahamstown being one of the largest towns in the Cape Colony, with over 6,000 residents. However, all was not well. The British had begun to push the Xhosa into lands well to the east of the Great Fish River towards the Keiskamma River (beyond the scope of the present map). The displacement of the Xhosa caused great hardship, due to the loss of cattle grazing land. Xhosa parties took to raiding European kraals and homesteads, often to stave off starvation. In response to the raids, on December 11, 1834, a British colonial commando party killed a high-ranking Xhosa chief. In reprise, a Xhosa army of 10,000 strong, once again, besieged Grahamstown, forcing the city?s women and children to barricade themselves in the main church, while the town?s men fought to prevent the city from falling. While Grahamstown narrowly managed to keep the Xhosa at bay, the response from Cape Town was swift and brutal. Within a few days of news reaching the capital, the Cape?s Governor Sir Benjamin D?Urban arrived in the region, along with Afrikaner commandos. They decisively defeated the Xhosa and proceeded to enforce a harsh peace treaty, pushing the Cape Colony-Xhosa border eastward to the Great Kei River, giving Britain control over what would be called the ?Queen Adelaide Province?. Britain also required the Xhosa to pay astoundingly large reparations in cattle, at a quantity so great that compliance would result in mass starvation. The Xhosa?s misery guaranteed future conflict. The next showdown, the Seventh Xhosa War (1846-7), popularly known as the ?War of the Arrow?, resulted in a resounding British victory that removed the Xhosa as an existential threat to the colonist?s control of the Eastern Cape. The European settlements flourished and, by 1860, Grahamstown had risen to become the second largest city in the Cape Colony. Over the coming decades, the British and the Zulu people would press the Xhosa further and further, until their once large domains were confined to much smaller areas along the Cape-Natal borderlands. Formal Xhosa resistance to the British regime ceased by 1878. References: Oscar I. Norwich (rev. and ed. by Jeffrey C. Stone.), Norwich's Maps of Africa: An Illustrated and Annotated Carto-Bibliography. 2nd ed. (Norwich, Vt.: Terra Nova Press, 1997), no. 232, p. 259; British Library: Cartographic Items Maps 67260.(1.); National Archives U.K.: CO 700/CapeofGoodHope9; OCLC: 494819659; Stanford University Library: NOR 0232.
Last updated: Aug 9, 2018