Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Charles Blaskowitz, Surveyor Who Created Important Map Reflecting the Battle of Pelham

Charles Blaskowitz produced an important map showing troop movements in and around the Manor of Pelham for the period that included the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.  An image of the map appears immediately below.  Here is a citation to the map, held in the collections of the Library of Congress:  A Survey of Frog's Neck and the Rout[e] of the British Army to the 24th of October 1776 . . . Manuscript [1776] by Charles Blaskowitz.  Scale 1:24, 000.  74 x 43 cm. (Library of Congress G3701 .S32177 1776 .B5 Faden 57) (known as the "Blaskowitz Map"). 

 Blaskowitz Map

The Blaskowitz Map is significant because it more accurately depicts both the area and the troop movements than does an analogous map by Claude Joseph Sauthier.  See Map Entitled "A Plan of the Operations of the King's Army Under the Command of General Sir William Howe, K.B. in New York and East New Jersey, Against the American Forces Commanded by General Washington from the 12th of October to the 28th of November 1776, Wherein is Particularly Distinguished the Engagement on the White Plains the 28th of October", ca. 1776 by Claude Joseph Sauthier (often referenced as The Sauthier Map and generally deemed an inaccurate depiction of events surrounding the Battle of Pelham).  The map is held in the collection of the Library of Congress (Call Number G3804.W7S3 1776 .S2 Faden 58; Control Number gm 71000649; Repository:  Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C., 20540-4650 USA). 
For a number of years, local historians and scholars misplaced the starting point of the Battle of Pelham based on inaccuracies reflected in the Sauthier Map.  Those issues were finally addressed and resolved in the 1920s.  

Charles Blaskowitz' origins are obscure, he clearly served for a time as deputy surveyor to His Majesty's surveyor-general of lands for the northern district of North America.  During the Revolutionary War he joined the "Guides and Pioneers," a provincial Loyalist regiment of which Samuel Holland was a founding officer. 
Some claim that Blaskowitz was Polish.  See, e.g., Kos-Rabcewicz-Zubkowski, Ludwik, The Poles in Canada (Volume 7 of Canada Ethnica), pp. 12, 48 (Polish Alliance Press 1968).  Others believe "[t]here are also some doubts about Blaskowitz' Polish origin."  See Canadian Association of Slavists, Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol. 13, p. 275 (Canadian Association of Slavists, 1971).  .
Below is an excerpt from a brief biography of Blaskowitz, followed by a citation to its source:
Charles Blaskowitz served Samuel Holland as a deputy surveyor; unlike his commander, his origins remain unclear.  Even his birth date is unknown, though a British War Office note of his death in 1823 gives his age as sev- [Page 123 / Page 124] enty-one, making his year of birth 1751 or 1752.  However, the Army Index of 1783 gives his birthplace as Prussia and his age as forty, making his year of birth 1742 or 1743.  This latter date accords more closely with the assertion that he entered the Tower Drawing Room in 1753, at age twelve.  He was officially salaried as a member of Samuel Holland's North America survey team as of 24 March 1764.  But he may well have arrived in North America earlier, for he signed as a draftsman the map of the St. Lawrence surveyed under the supervision of General James Murray during 1761.  He also signed as draftsman a manuscript copy of a survey of Lake Champlain in May 1765.  He rose in salary from 1s per day to 1s 6d per day by December 1767.  Over the next eight years, he would continue to climb the ranks from volunteer surveyor to assistant surveyor to deputy surveyor by 24 December 1775.  In 1777, during the War of American Independence, Blaskowitz joined the Guides and Pioneers, a provincial Loyalist regiment of which Samuel Holland was one of the founding officers.  Blaskowitz served this unit in the rank of captain as a draftsman and surveyor throughout the rest of the war. . . . "
Source:  Pedley, Mary Sponberg, The Commerce of Cartography - Making and Marketing Maps in Eighteenth-Century France and England, pp. 123-24 (London:  The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., 2005) (footnotes omitted).
For a list of officers of the Guides and Pioneers (including Captain Charles Blaskowitz), see The Tory Contingent in the British Army in America in 1781, The Historical Magazine, Vol. VIII, No. 13, p. 391 (Dec. 1864).

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