Department of the Geographer

"Young gentlemen of Mathematical genius, who are ac­quainted with the principles of Geometry, and who have a taste for drawing, would be the most proper assistants for a Geographer. Such, in a few days practice, may be made expert surveyors." Robt. Erskine to Geo. Washington, 1 August 1777

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"Sir: Immediately upon receipt of this you will begin to Survey the road (if it has not been done already) to Princeton, thence (through Maiden head) to Trenton , thence to Philadelphia , thence to the head of Elk through Darby, Chester , Wilmington Christiana bridge.

At the head of Elk you will receive further orders. I need not observe to you the necessity of noting Towns, Villages and remarkable Houses and places but I must desire that you will give me the rough traces of your Survey as you proceed on as I have reasons for desiring to know this as soon as possible..."

Geo. Washington (in preparation to march to Yorktown) to Simeon Dewitt, 29 August 1781


Research is an important aspect of the Department of the Geographer. Some of that may be found here. This part of the site is currently under development.

History and Timeline

By the summer of 1777, George Washington had identified a definite weakness in the Army’s ability to produce adequate topographical data in order to plan and execute theater operations. In July of that year, Washington wrote to Congress, “A good geographer to Survey the Roads and take Sketches of the Country where the Army is to Act would be extremely useful… …I would beg leave to recommend Mr. Robt. Erskine…”


Frequently asked questions about our unit are answered here. If you have any other questions or inquiries, feel free to contact us.


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