Fine example of William H. Emory’s important map of the Republic of Texas and the adjacent regions, published in 1844 at the height of the controversy over annexation. During the Congressional debates on the annexation of Texas, one of the central questions was the location of its boundaries with neighboring states and with Mexico. Colonel […]
The U.S. Army’s Topographical Engineers existed as an entity, under a variety of names, from 1813 to 1863. The unit was originally established in 1813 as the Topographical Bureau, a separate body within the War Department, before being transferred to the army’s Engineer Department in 1818. It was renamed the U.S. Bureau of Topographical Engineers in 1831 and then the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers in 1838, and existed as such until 1863, during the Civil War, when the corps was abolished by Congress and subsumed into the larger Corps of Engineers.
Although ostensibly a military formation, the early work of the Engineers was largely in “civilian” activities, connected with road- and canal- surveying and preparation, particularly in planning a national road network. Many of the published maps were appended to official reports from the War Department (and others) published by and for Congress. To this day the Corps of Engineers remains responsible for all federally-funded civil engineering projects.
As American attention moved westward, the Engineers were heavily involved in mapping the new countries being explored, publishing important maps of the Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico, and so on. Then, with the outbreak of the Civil War, the Topographical Engineers were refocussed on providing the mapping necessary for the armies in the field and the fleet at sea, such as this Map of the MILITARY DEPARTMENT of S.E. VIRGINIA.
Among the great names employed in the Bureau in the exploration and mapping of the westward movement are John James Abert, James William Abert, William Hemsley Emory, John Charles Fremont, James Duncan Graham and Gouverneur Kemble Warren.