Blake, Jacob Edmund (1812–1846)

By: Kevin R. Young

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Jacob Edmund Blake, soldier, was born in Philadelphia in 1812, the son of businessman George Blake. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 1833. He was posted to the Sixth Infantry and spent the next four years working at various stations in clerk positions. In July 1838 he was transferred to the new Corps of Topographical Engineers as a first lieutenant. He saw service in Florida during the Seminole War (1838–39) as assistant topographical engineer and in 1842 as a member of Gen. William J. Worth's staff. Blake was also involved in the 1841 survey of the Texas-United States border and did work on Lake Erie, in New Orleans, and in Florida.

In 1845 he was assigned to General Zachary Taylor's army of observation at Corpus Christi. In October of that year, he was posted to San Antonio de Béxar to survey the roads between there and Corpus Christi-Point Isabel. In San Antonio he made an important rendering of the unrestored Alamo chapel and barracks (1845). The drawing, now preserved at the National Archives, is considered one of the best representations of the Alamo before its repair in 1850. The result of his survey was the map of South Texas in which the Blake drawing was included.

When Taylor moved to the Rio Grande, Blake rejoined the main army. He was mentioned in Taylor's official report for his daring reconnaissance of the Mexican lines just before the battle of Palo Alto, the first major engagement of the Mexican War. During the lull between the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in May 1846, Blake remained in the saddle nearly twenty-four hours before returning to camp at Rancho Viejo. When he unsaddled his horse, his holsters hit the ground and his gun went off. The ball struck him, and he died a few hours later, on May 9, 1846, and was buried on the Palo Alto battlefield. In the Spring of 1847 Blake's remains were moved to Philadelphia, Pa and on April 3 reintered at Laurel Hill Cememtery. Camp Blake, at the San Pedro River on the military road between San Antonio and El Paso, was named in honor of Lieutenant Blake.

George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July-October 1958-October 1959). Susan Prendergast Schoelwer, Alamo Images (Dallas: DeGolyer Library, 1985).

  • Visual Arts
  • Graphic Arts

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Kevin R. Young, “Blake, Jacob Edmund,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994