De Lafayette’s Cartographer

Mr. Capitaine, the “aide de camp” of Marquis de La Fayette has drawn beautiful maps, while in campaigns. Magazine Antiques had an excellent article on this cartographer. And some of the maps can be seen at the Library of Congress.

Photo: Fort Carillon – Detail of the map of Lake Champlain drawn by Lafayette’s cartographer
Credit: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

I love maps, with nice details and colors. Surfing on the “France in America” site, I came across this nice map of Fort Ticonderoga in 1777, also showing Mount Defiance and Mount Independence which all played a role in that campaign.

It has tons of details and nice colors! It also shows the famous bridge which had been built across Lake Champlain by the Americans. Interestingly, the legend is a strange mix of French and English words!

Then it led me to want to learn more about the author of the map, Mr. Capitaine, the “aide de camp” of Marquis de Lafayette, and I actually found a long and excellent article on this cartographer (and on de La Fayette’s participation in the American Revolution): Chesnoy: Michel Capitaine du Chesnoy, the Marquis de Lafayette’s cartographer – Paul E Cohen (Magazine Antiques, Jan. 1998) (the article used to be available online, but is not anymore, unfortunately. You can get a back issue by contacting the Magazine Antiques.

Additionally, some of these maps can be seen at the Library of Congress, as it received six of these rare maps as a gift in 2000. Just go to the Geography and Map Division, basement floor and ask for it. The librarian will get it out of the vault for you. It is quite a treat! I experienced it myself.

Note: He is known as Marquis de Lafayette in the US, but he was actually Marquis de La Fayette.


  1. Hello Christine,

    I love your site! It is a treasure of information….a rara avis.

    I am very interested in the maps of Michel Capitaine du Chesnoy, as I am in the process of moving to Philadelphia and have researched many of the Lafayette sites there. Do you still have the Magazine Antiques back issue that you mentioned, and would you part with it?

    With highest regards,

    Dave Grossfeld
    [email protected]

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