KENDALL, George Wilkins (1809-1867) and Carl NEBEL (1805-1855). The War between the United States and Mexico illustrated... New York: D. Appleton & Company; Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 1851.

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KENDALL, George Wilkins (1809-1867) and Carl NEBEL (1805-1855). The War between the United States and Mexico illustrated, embracing pictorial drawings of all the principal conflicts ... with a description of each battle... New York: D. Appleton & Company; Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 1851.


Folio (224/8 x 17 2/8 inches). One lithographic map "of the Operations of the American Army in the Valley of Mexico in August and September 1847", 12 EXCEPTIONALLY fine hand-colored lithographic plates heightened with gum arabic by Adolphe Jean-Baptiste Bayot after Carl Nebel (one or two instances of marginal spotting, affecting the image on one plate, title-page and text leaves a bit spotted). Original blue linen, printed paper label on the front cover (some staining, a bit scuffed, endleaves creased).

First edition, variant issue in cloth binding, also published in paper wrappers, loose in a portfolio, and in half cloth. This extraordinary book was the work of two men who were masters of their respected trades. George W. Kendall was the pre-eminent war reporter of the day, and Carl Nebel was one of the finest artists working in the Southwest able to transpose chaotic scenes with a vivid eye for detail and composition.


George W. Kendall was a printer, a respected newspaperman, and a journalist whose account of his Santa Fe Trail adventures in 1841-1842, following his surrender to the Mexicans, was first published as letters in serial publications. His story, once released in book form in 1844, was so compelling that it went through many contemporary editions and upwards of 40000 copies were sold through the conclusion of the Mexican War in 1847.  Kendall supported the admission of Texas to the Union, and was in Texas as a reporter when he heard the news of the Mexican War. "Despite his earlier experiences, he accompanied the armies of Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott into Mexico as a war correspondent. While there, he captured a cavalry flag, was wounded in the knee, and earned widespread praise for devising, with Lumsden, methods for swift transmission of his war dispatches to the "Picayune". The men fitted out a small steamer as a press ship; it met other ships bearing war news, readied the news for printing, and took it to New Orleans, where workers at the "Picayune" rushed it to the press. It was circulated in the city and transmitted by swift express riders to other newspapers in the country. Kendall's biographer Fayette Copeland says that his Mexican War journalism made him famous as "the first modern war correspondent and the most widely known reporter in America in his day" (p. 150). "Before leaving Mexico, Kendall had agreed to write a book about the war that a [German] artist, Carl Nebel, was to illustrate. In 1848 Kendall sailed to France to work on the book, which was published in New Orleans and New York in 1851 as "The War between the United States and Mexico Illustrated". While in France, Kendall wrote frequent dispatches for the "Picayune" about the revolution of 1848. He also met and in 1849 married Adeline de Valcourt, a woman twenty-two years his junior, with whom he had four children. In 1852 he and his family moved to Texas near the present city of New Braunfels, where he became a sheep farmer at his ranch, "Post Oak"" (Mary Ann Wimsatt for ADNB).

"The very best American battle scenes in existence" (Bennett) Nebel, originally from Hamburg in Germany, travelled to America and lived in Mexico from 1829 until 1834. In 1836, he published in Paris his celebrated work "Voyage pittoresque et archéologique dans la partie la plus intéressante du Méxique", with 50 lithographs and an introduction by renowned explorer Alexander Humboldt. Nebel's magnificent plates in this volume depict the major battles of the Mexican War in dramatic and glorious detail, and include:

Battle of Palo. The only Texas lithograph in the work .The Battle of Palo Alto (May 8, 1846), fought on Texas soil north of Brownsville, was the first major engagement of the Mexican-American War and the first U.S. victory (Handbook of Texas Online: Battle of Palo Alto). The view, which shows the action from the perspective of a viewer behind the U.S. lines looking south toward the Mexican positions, has been praised for its artistic beauty and historical verisimilitude. Ron Tyler rates the print as "probably the finest lithographic view of Texas produced in the nineteenth century."

Tyler comments: "Nebel adopted a practice in the Palo Alto print, that also turns up in later ones, of picturing the road as it continues behind the Mexican lines through a pass in the fictitious hills, suggesting that another segment in the road to Mexico City-this one the route to Fort Texas and Matamoros-will be open as soon as the American troops have cleared the way." Sandweiss, et al., Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848, Plate 2 (p. 76), No. 5 (p. 109).

Capture of Monterey. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 7 (p. 81), No. 16 (p. 129): "The activities of the figures in the foreground demonstrate not only Nebel's knowledge of American uniforms and military operations, but his superior technical skills."

Battle Buena Vista. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 9 (p. 83), No. 38 (p. 163).

Bombardment of Vera. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 13 (p. 87), No. 115 (p. 275).

Battle of Cerro. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 16 (p. 90), No. 125 (p. 296).

Assault of Contreras. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 17 (p. 91), No. 134 (p. 308).

Battle of Churubusco. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 18 (p. 92), No. 136 (p. 312).

Molina del Rey-attack upon the molina. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 19 (p. 93), No. 140 (p. 317).

Molina del Rey-attack upon the casa mata. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 20 (p. 94), No. 141 (pp. 318-319).

Storming of Chapultepec-Pillow's attack. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 21 (p. 95), No. 146 (p. 326): "Nebel's illustration for Kendall was apparently the first contemporary print to depict with any accuracy the attack by Major General Gideon Pillow's division on Chapultepec's western side." 

Storming of Chapultepec-Quitman's attack. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 23 (p. 97), No. 152 (pp. 335-336).

Genl. Scott's entrance into Mexico. Sandweiss, et al., Plate 24 (p. 98), No. 159 (pp. 345-347): "Nebel's version of Scott's entrance sticks closer to the truth and is packed with psychological drama. There is no doubt here that the war is still on. Loaded cannons are posted to sweep the streets, while a body of dragoons in the foreground gathers tensely with drawn sabers near General Scott and his staff. In a particularly effective narrative detail, one of the dragoon officers, on a white horse in the center foreground, glares at a lepero on the left who is preparing to throw a stone. From the street or from doorways and partially closed windows, other citizens watch with fear, curiosity, apprehension, indignation, and in the case of the lepero with the stone and the armed men on the roof, open hostility, an allusion to the violence that broke out shortly thereafter." In the introduction to the 1994 TSHA reprint of the Kendall-Nebel portfolio (pp. xxiv), Tyler comments: "Nebel's picture of the grand plaza of Mexico, with the cathedral in the center and the National Palace at the right, is almost identical to his earlier print" [in Voyage Pittoresque; see Item 435 herein].

References: Bennett, American-Nineteenth Century Color Plate Books, p. 65: "The very best American battle scenes in existence." Christensen, The U.S.-Mexican War, p. 181. Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, p. 31. Haferkorn, p. 47. Tyler, unpublished work on lithographs of nineteenth-century Texas: "An extraordinary portfolio…Palo Alto being the only Texas scene…. Probably the finest lithographic view of Texas produced in the nineteenth century." Howes K76. Kurutz & Mathes, The Forgotten War, p. 148: "The most brilliant and famous published views of the major battles" pp. 195-197. Palau 188868. Peters, America on Stone, p. 295. Raines, p. 132: "Mr. K.'s position on Gen. Taylor's staff now was in strong contrast to his wretched life as a prisoner of war in Mexico in 1841-42 [Texas Santa Fe expedition; see Item 245 herein]. A great work." Sabin 37362. Sandweiss, Stewart & Huseman, Eyewitness to War: Prints and Daguerreotypes of the Mexican War, 1846-1848, p. 36: "The eyewitness prints that must be compared against all others are those produced under the direction of George Wilkins Kendall for his book The War Between the United States and Mexico Illustrated." Tyler, The Mexican War, a Lithographic Record, p. 11: "Magnificently produced portfolio by…the first modern war correspondent"; p. 18: "Of all the Mexican War lithographs, perhaps the dozen by Kendall and Nebel are the most popular." Tyler, Prints of the American West, p. 78. For inquiries please contact Greg McMurray, MLS, Director, Rare Books.