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John Fremont and the Topographical Engineers

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As mentioned previously, John Fremont (promoted to Major General at start of the Civil War) was in Europe procuring small arms, artillery and cavalry equipment in April 1861 and is responsible for equipping Midwestern regiments – many of which fought at Shiloh – with modern equipment. On return to New York and Washington, Fremont debriefed President Lincoln and then set off for St. Louis, where he enjoyed a good working relationship with Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon (until that man's death at Wilson's Creek in August 1861.) During his tenure as Commander, Department of the West, MGen Fremont constructed the defences that encircled St. Louis; extended the telegraph to the end of all Missouri railroad lines; initiated the Camp of Instruction at Benton Barracks; contracted for “Pook ironclads” and initiated a Corps of Telegraph Operators, and a Corps of Intelligence Collectors known as Jessie Scouts. He also managed to defuse a tense situation that erupted between Brigadier Generals Grant and Prentiss concerning seniority.

But John Fremont, initially a Naval contractor and NOT a graduate of West Point was a Regular Army officer until he resigned in 1848 “due to irregularities” regarding his involvement regarding the soon-to-be State of California. During his military service, Army Officer Fremont instituted and promoted the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers about 1838; and then set off on treks of discovery across the West of America (these treks so caught the American imagination, that the trails blazed by Fremont and followed by settlers of the West earned him the name, “Pathfinder.”)

A Corps of Topographical Engineers with interest in Civil War history (and generation of accurate Civil War maps) has recently departed from the internet and “gone dark.” While searching for their new online location, ran across ANOTHER topographical engineers site, with their own magazine: LIDAR. This group appears to have been established in 2010 and consists primarily of retired members of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers... (or whatever the Army calls that group of map-makers, spatial engineers and topographical intelligence collectors today.) Their magazines (about six per year) occasionally include Civil War material, such as:

https://lidarmag.com/2004/02/29/bookmarks-pathfinder-john-charles-frmont-and-the-course-of-american-empire-by-tom-chaffin-2/  John Fremont.

http://lidarmag.com/wp-content/uploads/PDF/LIDARMagazine_Maune-TopographicEngineers_Vol6No3.pdf  Explanation of Topographical Engineers.

and this is the site for their archives:  

https://lidarmag.com/archives/   LIDARMagazine


N.B. After leaving the Army, John Fremont made a fortune during the California Gold Rush. He invested much of his wealth in the purchase of small arms in Europe in May/ June 1861.

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