Posted on , Last updated

Important 1857 map of Texas by Topographical EngineersThe 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.



10 results, ordered by Publication Date

Items Available for purchase

Items No longer available

A major manuscript map of the southern Virginia Peninsula

  A heretofore unknown, highly detailed manuscript map of the southern Virginia peninsula, evidently produced at the conclusion of the Peninsula Campaign. Pasted to the map are eight watercolors and pen and ink sketches by the mapmaker, four of which he has signed. In light of its high quality of execution and wealth of topographical, cultural and […]

Out of Stock
View Details
Bureau of Topographical Engineers / Engraved by W.H. Dougal, TERRITORY AND MILITARY DEPARTMENT OF NEW MEXICO compiled in the BUREAU OF TOPOGL. ENGRS OF THE WAR DEPT. chiefly for military purposes under the authority of The SECRETARY OF WAR 1859.[Washington, D.C], 1859 [but 1865 or a bit later].

A major map of New Mexico and Arizona Territories by the Topographical Engineers

A previously unrecorded ca 1865 state of a rare and important map of the New Mexico and Arizona Territories at a tumultuous time, compiled by the Army’s Bureau of Topographical Engineers “chiefly for military purposes”.  This is one of several major regional maps of the western United States prepared by the Bureau of Topographical Engineers […]

Out of Stock
View Details

One of the most important printed maps of the Civil War

This brilliantly conceived work was “the principal reference map for all field commanders in the initial stage of the Union campaign to capture Atlanta” (Stephenson.) One of military history’s great campaigns, the battle for Atlanta followed the Union victory at Chattanooga in November 1863. The first order of business was the preparation of an accurate […]

Out of Stock
View Details

Case map of eastern Virginia, for use by commanders in the Union Army

An impressive Civil War map of southeastern Virginia, compiled by the Topographical Engineers for use of commanders in the Union Army. The map shows cities, towns, and settlements; waterways, bridges, roads and railroads; and other details such as fortifications around Richmond, plantations along the James (including Carter and Westover), and slate quarries and gold in the […]

Out of Stock
View Details

Important Dakota Territory map, annotated by a pioneer

An important and extremely rare map of the Dakota Territory produced during the Black Hills Gold Rush. With valuable annotations in manuscript by a Dakota pioneer, recording an expedition to establish a route from Yankton to the gold fields. The map was originally printed by the U.S. Government for field use by high ranking officers and not […]

Out of Stock
View Details
[Edward Freyhold / Gouverneur Kemble Warren] MAP OF CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA, WITH PARTS OF UTAH & ARIZONA. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Engineers, U.S.A., 1879.

Rare 1879 military map of California and Nevada

A very rare and fine military map of California and Nevada, issued in 1879, likely in the context of the last of the violence that became known as the California Indian Wars. With interesting annotations reflecting a number of long marches, presumably by an early owner. The map depicts California and Nevada along with adjacent […]

Out of Stock
View Details

A New Mexico rarity

A rare and important map of the Territory of New Mexico at a tumultuous time of its history, compiled by the Army’s Bureau of Topographical Engineers “chiefly for military purposes.” The map was produced by “a careful redrawing and synthesis of the maps that had been made by the Bureau since 1846” and “is about […]

Out of Stock
View Details