Jump to Navigation

Beyond Lewis and Clark - Timeline 1838

The Army Explores the West

Colonel John J. Abert, chief of the Corps for 32 years.

Corps of Topographic Engineers Created (1838)

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point had trained soldier-explorers since 1802. By the late 1820s, though, the Army’s small bureau of topographical engineers was being stretched.

Vast areas of the country were unexplored and contested. Settlers moving west demanded roads, canals, and navigable rivers. These needs led the Army to revise its structure and make more efficient use of its specialized officers.

In 1829 the Topographical Bureau became an independent branch of the Army reporting directly to the Secretary of War. This new organization professionalized the role of soldier-explorer.


Beyond Lewis and Clark is an online exhibit developed by the Kansas Museum of History. It is the result of a partnership between the Kansas Historical Society, the Virginia and Washington State historical societies, the U. S. Army's Frontier Army Museum at Leavenworth, and the U. S. Army Center of Military History.

Contact us at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov