This has to be one of the most dramatic items in our collection, a beautifully illustrated manuscript map of a naval engagement during the Napoleonic Wars. The French Republic had persuaded the Ottoman Empire to deny passage to the Dardanelles to the Russian navy, allowing only French warships through the straits. The Russian declaration of war to Turkey brought Britain into the conflict as a Russian ally. British naval vessels were sent into the Dardanelles on the 19th of February 1807 to force a passage into the Sea of Marmara, the action so vividly portrayed in the map.
The British Squadron under the command of Vice Admiral Sr. John Thomas Duckworth, K.B., forcing the passage of the Dardanelles, on the 19th of February 1807. 1807, (MS) D30:24 (12)
There is topographical information along the shore-line and in the lay-out of Turkish defences but the ships have a pictorial feel to them, and the angle of depiction is different for the two elements on show. There is a list of the ships of the line, both British and Turkish as well as information on the strength of defences and description of the damage caused to the Windsor Castle. A note at the bottom states that the ‘Circumference of the Marble Shot which entered the side of the Windsor Castle, and wounded her main mast, is 6 feet 11 inches, Weight Eight Hundred and Four Pounds’, which seems an incredibly large piece of shot. The damage that this type of artillery can cause to the crew isn’t mentioned but you can get an idea when you look into the life of Sir john Thomas Duckworth, K.B, Second in Command of the Mediterranean Fleet’. Born in 1748 Duckworth joined the navy at 11 and had a long and distinguished naval career. During one naval battle he was concussed when hit by the head of a sailor struck off by a cannonball.
The Dardanelles are more famous for another military operation, the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War. The Bodleian holds a large amount of mapping for Gallipoli; British, Turkish and commercial newspaper maps. Shown here are British War Office maps, the first highlighting the forts along the coast while the second is a more detailed map of the area. The opposing towns of Chanak Kale and Kilid Bahir in this map are the castles of Abydos and Sestos in the 1807 map.
Map of the Peninsula of Gallipoli and the Asiatic Shore of the Dardanelles, 1908, D30:3 (20) 
Gallipoli – scale 1:20,000 Chanak, 1915, D30:3 (20) 
The more detailed map would have been used for observation. There’s an intricate grid over the topographical information shown, each numbered large square is split up into 25 lettered squares (the e not used) and then in each of these smaller squares there are 9 dots, which in the top left of the smaller squares in each large square are numbered, like this.
Using a combination of the three different characters would give a very accurate field position for artillery and other purposes.
Finally one of numerous maps created by newspapers to illustrate news reports on the campaign. This is a particularly fine example of a pictorial map, and shows the area at the entrance to the Dardanelles.
“The Graphic” map of the Dardanelles Operations, c1916, D30:24 (3)
The Duckworth map is similar to another held in the collection, by the diarist John Evelyn. Evelyn was reporting back to his friend Samuel Pepys, who at the time was an administrator in the Navy, about a battle in the River Medway. More on this fascinating story can be found in an earlier blog and more on Gallipoli can be found here
The map’s intention is a mystery. The Bodleian doesn’t hold a printed version so it is unlikely to have been made for publication. The map could, with its accurate depiction of the action and the level of information given, have been made for a report or a record of events. Whatever the reason, we’re left with a dramatic and intriguing document of a relatively unknown part of one of the more famous conflicts in history.