Thursday, March 17, 2022

Brief History of the United States Army Corps of Engineers


Today I want to give a brief history of the Army Corps of Engineers because my hero, Edward Pritchard, in Angelina’s Resolve served in the Army Corps of Engineers during the Civil War. He wasn’t the officer in charge, just one of the many soldiers who worked on their projects. The responsibility of the ACE has expanded over the decades into the civilian sector because of their efficiency and the talented Engineers who serve.

The Army Corps of Engineers serves in three areas: Engineer Regiment, military construction, and civil works. Their duties are to overcome obstacles, construct fighting positions, place explosive devices and detonate; clear debris and various other things, plant and detect mine fields, and join in combat if needed. Over time they have become a vital part of working in the civilian sector during natural disasters. They’ve designed bridges, canals and railroads as well as equipment to assisted in road and rail construction and water travel safety. 

Time line:

June 16,1775 the Continental Congress formed the Army Corps of Engineers. General Richard Gridley became George Washington’s first chief engineer. He and his two assistance were tasked with building fortification at Bunker Hill. They requested the assistance of France’s Corps of Engineers to train them. Many of the first engineers for the Continental Army were former French officers.

February 1783 it was disbanded, it appears to be a political move because it was established in Washington’s administration. They were combined with the Corps of Artillerists as a joint unit.

March 16, 1802 Thomas Jefferson reestablishes the Army Corp of Engineers and it was stationed at West Point. Up until 1866 West Point was the only place to receive engineering training and the commander of West Point was always an Engineer.

1824 ACE was assigned to survey roads and design ways to make it easier to navigate American waterways. Tree trunks and other debris made river travel a hazard.

1838 The Topographical Engineer division was separated from ACE and focused on mapping, designing and constructing costal fortification and navigating coastal routes.

1841 Congress created The Lake Survey and ACE conducted a hydrographical survey of the Great Lakes and prepared and published nautical maps, charts and navigational aids.

1850s created a Lighthouse district in cooperation with the US Navy.

Civil War

Many of those engineering graduates took on leadership roles during the Civil War. Union generals George McClellan Henry Halleck and George Meade; and Confederate generals Robert E. Lee, Joseph Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard. The Confederate forces placed and engineer in every military unit to better build defenses against the Union army.

The ACE on both sides if the conflict created pontoon (floating) and railroad bridges, forts, and batteries. They destroyed enemy supply lines (including railroads.) with their explosive knowledge. Engineers on both sides of the conflict proved to be invaluable.

1884 Under the direction of Lt.Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey the Washington Monument was completed

Twentieth Century

1914 The ACE supervised the building of the Panama Canal

1927 After the horrendous Mississippi Flood of 1927 congress enacted laws expanding the responsibility of the ACE. They help build hydroelectric plants, worked with flood control and even creating recreational facilities along beaches.

1937 Bonneville Dam completed

In December 1941 the Corps began building facilities at home and abroad to support the U.S. Army and Air Force. During World War II the ACE budget for 27,000 military and industrial projects exceeded 15.3 billion dollars. Among the many projects the ACE built during this time was the Pentagon. They were given the responsibility to maintenance and construction all army facilities.

1961 Supervised the construction for NASA for the manned Spacecraft Center and Kennedy Space Center

1972 The Federal Water Pollution Control Act placed more responsibility on the ACE to issue permits for disposing of waste safely.

Overtime the ACE has created districts that span the globe so it can better maintain necessary military and civilian support. Their training and focus on details has made the difference in aiding our military presence around the world and helping the US recover more quickly from natural disasters.

They continue to be a major part of transportation maintenance and Natural Disaster Relief.

Those who serve in the Army Corp of Engineers during wartime are expected to join their fellow soldiers in battle. My character Edward like many of the soldiers who served in the Army Corp of Engineers during the Civil War had a tough time switching from construction worker to soldier.

Cindy Ervin Huff is an Award-winning author of Historical and Contemporary Romance. She loves infusing hope into her stories of broken people. She addicted to reading and chocolate. Her idea of a vacation is visiting historical sites and an ideal date with her hubby of almost fifty years would be live theater.

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Angelina's Resolve Book #1 Village of Women

Proving her skills are equal to a man’s may cost her more than she ever imagined.

Modern-thinking Angelina DuBois is determined to prove her cousin Hiram wrong. He fired her from the architect firm she helped grow when her father’s will left the business to Hiram. Using her large inheritance and architectural degree, she sets out to create a village run by women—Resolve, Kansas.

Carpenter and Civil War veteran Edward Pritchard’s dream of building homes for Chicago’s elite must be put on hold until he gains references. Serving as a contractor under Angelina’s well-known DuBois name provides that opportunity. But can Angelina trust her handsome new carpenter to respect her as his boss? Will the project take Edward one step closer to his goals, or will it make him a laughingstock? Can these two strong-willed people find love amid such an unconventional experiment?


  1. I didn't know very much about the ACE so thank you for posting this morning. I found it very interesting!

  2. This post was enlightening. I had no idea. Thank you for your research!