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In 1846-48, many of the topogs were withdrawn from civil projects to participate in the war with Mexico.
The acquisition of the vast Southwest from Mexico, as a result of the war, and the settlement of the Oregon controversy with Britain, opened up the Far West for further exploration by the topogs and the undertaking of numerous boundary surveys.
During the two decades prior to the 1850s, the topogs had flourished.
Meade were the chief topogs engaged in these duties throughout the 1850s.
Ryan as "old, tired, uninspiring, and uninterested." With the coming of war, the few civil works under the direction of the topogs were suspended.
In two acts of Congress passed on 3 and 6 August 1861, the Corps of Engineers and the topogs were each authorized an additional 12 officers.
The topogs were also authorized to organize a company of enlisted men.
By May 1862, the topogs had sent 24 of their remaining 30 officers to the war on active field duty.
Only two topogs were available to map the entire region from the Appalachians to the Trans-Mississippi.
Younger topogs, as well as engineers, were now engaged in the construction of bridges, blockhouses, entrenchments, and other permanent works.