George Washington's Surveyors and Cartographers
..."That General Washington be empowered to appoint Mr. Robert Erskine, or any other person that he may think proper, geographer and surveyor of the roads, to take sketches of the country, the seat of war, and to have the procuring, governing and paying the guides employed under him; the General to affix the pay of the said geographer, &c. and the allowance that shall be made to the guides."...
Resolution of the Continental Congress, July 25, 1777
"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
"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
Today in the 1770s
News Update: Unit Members Visit Erskine's Grave
On June 11th, 2010, three members of the recreated Dept. of the Geographer (Lt. Robert Fryman, Capt. Tony Holbrook, and Capt. Scott Smith) visited Ringwood Manor State Park in Ringwood, NJ to view the final resting place of Robert Erskine, Geographer to the Army, 1777-1780.
Erskine died on October 2, 1780 after falling ill while surveying in the Hudson Highlands. He was buried in the cemetery at Ringwood, location of his home and the iron furnace that he managed. His tomb is located next to that of his clerk, Robert Monteath, who died in 1778. The three visitors paid their respects by laying flowers on Erskine's brick tomb before continuing their journey to an immersion weekend on Constitution Island on the Hudson River.