This volume with 13 folio lithographs is George Wilkins Kendall & Carl Nebel’s The War between the United States and Mexico illustrated, embracing pictorial drawings of all the principal conflicts … with a description of each battle. The work was published in 1851 in New York & Philadelphia by the Plon Brothers of Paris for D. Appleton & Co. and George S. Appleton. This is the first and only edition of one of the most important works on the Mexican-American War. The work is a first-hand report of the first offensive war fought by the United States.
The volume is expertly bound to style in half dark green morocco over publisher’s green cloth covered boards, upper cover lettered in gilt. The work features 12 hand-colored lithographs heightened with gum arabic. It also includes one lithographic map “of the Operations of the American Army in the Valley of Mexico in August and September 1847”. Most of the lithographs were done by Bayot with one credited to Bayot & Bichebois after Carl Nebel’s original illustrations.
George Wilkins Kendall (1809-1867) was America’s first great war correspondent. He was a proponent for the necessity of the war with Mexico. He joined the Rangers at the Rio Grande at the start of hostilites and later joined the Scott expedition. His work provided a detailed account of each battle.
Kendall notes in his preface that “Of the twelve illustrations accompanying his work… the greater number were drawn on the spot by the artist. So far as regards the general configuration of the ground, fidelity of the landscape, and correctness of the works and buildings introduced, they may be strictly relied upon. Every reader must be aware of the impossibility, in painting a battle scene, of giving more than one feature or principal incident of the strife. The artist has ever chosen what he deemed the more interesting as well as exciting points of each combat… in the present series of illustrations the greatest care has been taken to avoid inaccuracies.”
The authors of Eyewitness to War wrote approvingly that the present work “represents the climax of the confluence of journalism and lithography on the prints of the Mexican war” and that Nebel’s images are “the eyewitness prints that must be compared against all others.”
A contemporary reviewer described the work as follows: “We have never seen anything to equal the artistic skill, perfection of design, marvelous beauty of execution, delicacy of truth of coloring, and lifelike animation of figures … They present the most exquisite specimens ever exhibited in this country of the art of colored lithography; and we think that great praise ought to be awarded to Mr. Kendall for having secured such brilliant and beautiful and costly illustrations for the faithful record of the victories of the American army” (review in the New Orleans Picayune, 15 July 1850).
Titles of the Plates in the work:
Battle of Palo-alto
Capture of Monterey
Battle of Buena Vista
Bombardment of Vera-Cruz
Battle of Cerro gordo
Assault of Contreras
Battle of Curubusco
Molino del Rey – attack upon the molino
Molino del Rey – attack upon the casamata
Storming of Chapultepec – Pillow’s attack
Storming of Chapultepec – Quitman’s attack
Gen. Scott’s entrance into Mexico
Map of the Operations of the American Army in the Valley of Mexico in August and September 1847