Highly Important Navigation Maps of the Rio Grande

89 [Texas] Tilden, Bryant P., Jr.: NOTES ON THE UPPER RIO GRANDE…EXPLORED IN THE
MONTHS OF OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER,
1846, ON BOARD THE U.S. STEAMER MAJOR
BROWN…. Philadelphia. 1847. Bound with green
paper strip, 32pp., light browning but generally
very good; plus 9 folding maps (numbered 1 to
9). The first map, A SKETCH OF THE UPPER
RIO GRANDE, has small pieces missing from
the edge of the right margin (not affecting
map) and has a closed tear repair in which
several words are missing; the other maps vary
from lightly browned to quite nice.

An important and rare account of a mission to map the upper reaches of the Rio Grande during the Mexican War to open steamboat
communications with Presidio Rio Grande, which was the crossing point on the Rio Grande
for the road between Monclova, Mexico and San Antonio (this was where General Wool crossed with his forces). The only prior maps of the Rio Grande recorded by Wheat in
TRANSMISSISSIPPI are numbers 103 (ca. 1720), and 161 (manuscript map by Miera in 1773), so Tilden’s record becomes the first detailed and publically available map of this hitherto unrecorded part of the Rio Grande. In an alluring preface, Tilden dedicates this work to “Dr. A. Rackliffe of Guerra, Mexico,” who piloted the first steamboat up the Rio Grande in 1834 in company with Col. Stephen F. Austin. Tilden also references an unpublished map by Rackliffe, “Chart of the Rio Bravo del Norte,” which would be an amazing find. Tilden and his party started from Camargo (across from Rio Grande City, a couple of hundred miles upstream from Matamoros), on Oct. 1, 1846, less than one week after the Battle of Monterrey, and travelled almost 300 miles up the Rio Grande to the Presidio (below present day Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras). This pamphlet gives an account of the journey, with descriptions of the region and many towns along the route, including Laredo, Mier and Presidio de Rio Grande. The maps, bearing interesting historical and topographical remarks, show the Rio Grande from Camargo to the Presidio de Rio Grande, in nine sections, representing the most informative and accurate
maps of the area published to that date. A book which is rare to the trade (no copies for sale online, except one without the maps), and one copy sold at auction (1989); even the copy at the famed Jenkins Garrett Mexican War Collection lacks the maps (see Garrett, p. 144, “photocopy.”) Graff 4151. Raines, p.206. Howes T264.

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