Topographical Engineer's Uniform

Physical Description
Dark-blue cloth, double-breasted, with two parallel rows of buttons. Standing collar and cuffs of dark-blue velvet; the collar and cuffs are embroidered in gold, with oak leaves and acorns, according to the designs in the Topographical Bureau. Buttons bear the shield of the United States and the letters "T.E." in old English characters.
Chapeau for Officers of Topographical Engineers
The chapeau is of black beaver felt and is described in the regulations as "cocked without binding; fan or back part not more than eleven inches, nor less than nine inches; the front or cock not more than nine inches, nor less than eight inches; each corner, six inches; black ribbons on the two front sides." The ends are decorated with tassels of gold bullion; the front has a black silk cockade under a gold loop, eleven inches long, ornamented with a gilt spread eagle, a scroll, and the button of the Corps. The plume is of black swan feathers, drooping from an upright stem, feathered to the length of eight inches.
Specific History
This coat and hat were part of the uniform of a Topographical Engineer.
General History
Topographical Engineers were authorized for War Department duty by a March 3, 1813 act, to conduct engineering surveys for military purposes and to explore routes for the passage of troops. Specifically the duties of the topographical engineers were "to make such surveys and exhibit such delineations as the commanding generals shall direct; to make plans of all military positions which the army may occupy and of their respective vicinities, indicating the various roads, rivers, creeks, ravines, hills, woods, and villages to be found therein; to accompany all reconnoitering parties sent out to obtain intelligence of the movements of the enemy or of his positions; to make sketches of their routes, accompanied by written notices of everything worthy of observation therein; to keep a journal of every day's movement when the army is in march, noticing the variety of ground, of buildings, of culture, and distances, and state of roads between common points throughout the march of the day; and lastly, to exhibit the positions of contending armies on the fields of battle, and the dispositions made, either for attack or defense."
date made
ca 1830
associated date
United States
Physical Description
wool (overall material)
overall: 40 in x 16 in; 101.6 cm x 40.64 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
U.S. War Department
related event
Creek War
Expansion and Reform
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
The Price of Freedom: Americans at War
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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