“THE MOST AMBITIOUS AMERICAN MILITARY MISSION TO EUROPE DURING THE ANTEBELLUM ERA”: DELAFIELD’S REPORT ON THE ART OF WAR, PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED WITH NEARLY 80 PLATES (MANY LARGE AND FOLDING), FROM THE LIBRARY OF THEN-CONGRESSMAN AND FUTURE PRESIDENT JAMES GARFIELD, WITH HIS BOOKPLATE
(GARFIELD, James) DELAFIELD, R[ichard]. Report on the Art of War in Europe in 1854, 1855 and 1856. Washington: George W. Bowman, 1861. Quarto, original blind-stamped brown cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition, House of Representative issue, of Delafield’s “large and elegantly illustrated” report on the Crimean War and European military practices, with 78 plates, maps and plans—over half folding and many quite large—and numerous in-text diagrams, the copy of President James Garfield, with his bookplate.
“Early in 1855 Secretary of War Jefferson Davis selected Delafield”— former superintendent of West Point and at the time a member of the army’s Board of Engineers for Fortification—“to head a board of officers… to observe the conduct of the Crimean War and report generally on the military art in Europe… The officers carefully examined the battlefields with the aid of British officers, and they toured a wide variety of military installations in Russia, Germany, the Austrian Empire, France, Belgium and Great Britain. On their return in April 1856, the members set about compiling reports on their specialties, which were eventually published by order of Congress. Delafield’s large and elegantly illustrated volume appeared in 1860 and emphasized fortification and the conduct of the siege of Sevastopol, but it also included information on a range of other topics related to the ‘art of war,’ including small arms, gun carriages, the design of barracks and hospitals and military schools. The Delafield board was the most ambitious American military mission to Europe during the antebellum era. Early in the Civil War, the Union government tried to suppress circulation of Delafield’s report, lest the Confederates use its detailed drawings and data to design their own fortifications” (ANB). Copies are found with varying numbers of plates; this copy with 46 folding maps and plans, several quite large (Plate 3, a map of Paris, measures 30 by 32 inches; Plate 8, of Sebastopol, measures 28-1/2 by 40-1/2 inches); 19 black-and-white plates; 12 tinted and hand-colored plates; and numerous in-text diagrams. Also with additional hand-colored engraved title page. House of Representatives issue. With the bookplate of James Garfield, 20th President of the United States (March 4-September 19, 1881). At the time Delafield’s report was published, Garfield was serving as colonel in the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. “In April 1862 he was given command of a brigade, just in time to participate in the last stage of the battle of Shiloh. These military laurels helped boost Garfield’s political stock,” and he would take a seat in 38th Congress in December 1863, representing Ohio’s 19th District (ANB).
Scattered mild foxing to interior. Closed tears along folds of Plate 3; small triangular hole to Plate 9. Binding with light rubbing to spine ends, front joint repaired, scattered minor abrasions. An extremely good copy of an impressive production, with presidential provenance.