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Engineer Castle against 'We the People' Declaration
PORTRAITS AND PROFILES

Since 1775, 49 officers have held the highest office among the Army's Engineers.   In addition, three officers headed the Topographical Bureau and the Corps of Topographical Engineers between 1818 and 1863.   Their likenesses and biographies follow.   Each officer is listed with the highest federal military rank, excluding brevet rank, that he attained while holding this office.

COL Richard Gridley, 1775-6 COL Rufus Putnam, 1776 MG Louis Lebègue Duportail, 1777-83 LTC Stephen Rochefontaine, 1795-98
LTC Henry Burbeck, 1798-1802 COL Jonathan Williams, 1802-3/05-12 COL Joseph Gardner Swift, 1812-18 COL Walker Keith Armistead, 1818-21
COL Alexander Macomb, 1821-28 COL Charles Gratiot, 1828-38 BG Joseph Gilbert Totten, 1838-64 Next 3 links — Chief of Topographical Bureau
MAJ Issac Roberdeau, 1818-29 COL John James Abert, 1829-61 COL Stephen H. Long, 1861-63 BG Richard Delafield, 1864-66
BG Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, 1866-79 BG Horatio Gouverneur Wright, 1879-84 BG John Newton, 1884-86 BG James Chatham Duane, 1886-88
BG Thomas Lincoln Casey, 1888-95 BG William Price Craighill, 1895-97 BG John Moulder Wilson, 1897-1901 BG Henry M. Robert, 1901
BG John W. Barlow, 1901 BG George Lewis Gillespie, Jr., 1901-04 BG Alexander Mackenzie, 1904-8 BG William Louis Marshall, 1908-10
BG William Herbert Bixby, 1910-13 BG William Trent Rossell, 1913 BG Dan Christie Kingman, 1913-16 MG William Murray Black, 1916-19
MG Lansing Hoskins Beach, 1920-24 MG Harry Taylor, 1924-26 MG Edgar Jadwin, 1926-29 MG Lytle Brown, 1929-33
MG Edward Murphy Markham, 1933-37 MG Julian Larcombe Schley, 1937-41 LTG Eugene Reybold, 1941-45 LTG Raymond A. Wheeler, 1945-49
LTG Lewis A. Pick, 1949-53 LTG Samuel D. Sturgis, Jr., 1953-56 LTG Emerson C. Itschner, 1956-61 LTG Walter K. Wilson, Jr., 1961-65
LTG William F. Cassidy, 1965-69 LTG Frederick J. Clarke, 1969-73 LTG William C. Gribble, Jr., 1973-76 LTG John W. Morris, 1976-80
LTG Joseph K. Bratton, 1980-84 LTG Elvin R. Heiberg III, 1984-88 LTG Henry J. Hatch, 1988-92 LTG Arthur E. Williams, 1992-96
LTG Joe N. Ballard, 1996-2000 LTG Robert B. Flowers, 2000-2004 LTG Carl A. Strock, 2004 -   


Colonel Richard Gridley
(No known Picture)

America's First Chief Engineer

(June 1775-April 1776)

Born January 3, 1710, in Boston, Massachusetts, Richard Gridley was the outstanding American military engineer during the French and Indian wars from the Siege of Louisburg in 1745 to the fall of Quebec.   For his services he was awarded a commission in the British Army, a grant of the Magdalen Islands, 3,000 acres of land in New Hampshire, and a life annuity.   When the break with the mother country came, he stood with the colonies and was made Chief Engineer in the New England Provincial Army.   He laid out the defenses on Breed's Hill and was wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill.   He was appointed Chief Engineer of the Continental Army after Washington took command in July 1775.   He directed the construction of the fortifications which forced the British to evacuate Boston in March 1776.   When Washington moved his Army south, Gridley remained as Chief Engineer of the New England Department.   He retired in 1781 at age 70.   He died June 21, 1796, in Stoughton, Massachusetts.

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Colonel Rufus PutnamColonel Rufus Putnam

Chief Engineer, Continental Army

(April 1776-December 1776)

Rufus Putnam was born April 9, 1738, in Sutton, Massachusetts.   A millwright by trade, his three years of Army service during the French and Indian War influenced him to study surveying and the art of war.   After the Battle of Lexington, he was commissioned an officer of the line, but General Washington soon discovered his engineering abilities.   He planned the fortifications on Dorchester Neck that convinced the British to abandon Boston.   Washington then brought Putnam to New York as his Chief Engineer.   He returned to infantry service in 1777, taking command of the 5th Massachusetts Regiment.   He and his troops helped to fortify West Point, erecting strong defenses atop the steep hill that commanded that garrison.   The remains of Fort Putnam, preserved by the Military Academy, still honor his name there.   Putnam was named a brigadier general in the Continental Army in 1783.   In 1788 he led the first settlers to found the present town of Marietta, Ohio.   The fortifications that he built there saved the settlements from annihilation during the disastrous Indian wars.   He became Surveyor General of federal public lands and judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio.   He died in Marietta on May 1, 1824.

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Major General Louis Lebègue DuportailMajor General Louis Lebègue Duportail

Chief Engineer, Continental Army

(July 22, 1777-October 10, 1783)

One of General Washington's most trusted military advisors, Louis Lebègue Duportail was born near Orleans, France, in 1743.   He graduated from the royal engineer school in Mézières, France, as a qualified engineer officer in 1765.   Promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Royal Corps of Engineers, Duportail was secretly sent to America in March 1777 to serve in Washington's Army under an agreement between Benjamin Franklin and the government of King Louis XVI of France.   He was appointed colonel and commander of all engineers in the Continental Army, July 1777; brigadier general, November 1777; commander, Corps of Engineers, May 1779; and major general (for meritorious service), November 1781.   Duportail participated in fortifications planning from Boston to Charleston and helped Washington evolve the primarily defensive military strategy that wore down the British Army.   He also directed the construction of siege works at Yorktown, site of the decisive American victory of the war.   Returning to France in October 1783, Duportail became an infantry officer and in 1788 a field marshal.   He served as France's minister of war during the revolutionary years (1790 and 1791) and promoted military reforms.   Forced into hiding by radical Jacobins, he escaped to America and bought a farm near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.   He lived there until 1802, when he died at sea while attempting to return to France.

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Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Rochefontaine
(No Known Picture)

Commandant, Corps of Artillerists and Engineers

(February 26, 1795-May 7, 1798)

Born near Reims, France, in 1755, Stephen Rochefontaine came to America in 1778 after failing to gain a position in the French Royal Corps of Engineers.   He volunteered in General Washington's Army on May 15, 1778, and was appointed captain in the Corps of Engineers on September 18, 1778.   For his distinguished services at the siege of Yorktown, Rochefontaine was given the brevet rank of major by Congress, November 16, 1781.   He returned to France in 1783 and served as an infantry officer, reaching the rank of colonel in the French Army.   He came back to the United States in 1792.   President Washington appointed him a civilian engineer to fortify the New England coast in 1794.   After the new Corps of Artillerists and Engineers was organized, Washington made Rochefontaine a lieutenant colonel and commandant of the new Corps on February 26, 1795.   Rochefontaine started a military school at West Point in 1795, but the building and all his equipment were burned the following year.   He left the Army on May 7, 1798, and lived in New York City, where he died January 30, 1814.   He is buried in old St. Paul's Cemetery in New York.

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Lieutenant Colonel Henry BurbeckLieutenant Colonel Henry Burbeck

Commandant, 1st Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers

(May 7, 1798-April 1, 1802)

Born June 8, 1754, in Boston, Massachusetts, Henry Burbeck served as lieutenant of artillery under Colonel Richard Gridley, the Army's first Chief Engineer and artillery commander, in 1775.   He remained in the Artillery Corps under General Henry Knox and in 1777 assumed command of a company of the 3d Continental Artillery Regiment.   His unit remained in the North to defend the Hudson Highlands and marched into New York when the British evacuated that city at the close of the war.   Honorably discharged in January 1784, Burbeck was reappointed captain of artillery in 1786 and commanded the post at West Point, New York, in 1787-89.   He commanded the Army's Battalion of Artillery and served as General Anthony Wayne's Chief of Artillery in the Northwest in 1792-94.   He commanded at Fort Mackinac in 1796-99.   From 1798 to 1802 Burbeck was the senior regimental commander of artillerists and engineers.   He also commanded the Eastern Department of the Army in 1800 and in that year endorsed the creation of a corps of engineers separate from the artillerists.   He was Chief of the new Artillery Corps from 1802 to 1815, first as a colonel and then during the War of 1812 as a brevet brigadier general.   During the Jefferson administration, Burbeck successfully developed and tested domestically produced cast-iron artillery pieces.   He left the Army in June 1815 and died on October 2, 1848, in New London, Connecticut.

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Colonel Jonathan WilliamsColonel Jonathan Williams

Chief Engineer (and First Superintendent of West Point)

(April 1, 1802-June 20, 1803 and April 19, 1805-July 31, 1812)

Jonathan Williams was born May 20, 1750, in Boston, Massachusetts, a grandnephew of Benjamin Franklin. Williams spent most of the period from 1770 to 1785 in England and France, where he assisted Franklin with business affairs and served as a commercial agent in Nantes.   He joined the American Philosophical Society in 1788 and published articles on scientific subjects.   President Adams appointed Williams a major in the Corps of Artillerists and Engineers in February 1801 and President Jefferson made him the Army's Inspector of Fortifications and assigned him to lead the new Military Academy at West Point in December 1801.   The following year Jefferson appointed him to command the separate Corps of Engineers established by Congress on March 16, 1802.   From 1807 to 1812 Williams designed and completed construction of Castle Williams in New York Harbor, the first casemated battery in the United States.   He founded the U.S. Military Philosophical Society and gave it its motto, "Science in War is the Guarantee of Peace." He resigned from the Army in 1812 and was heading a group of volunteer engineers building fortifications around Philadelphia when he was elected to Congress from that city in 1814.   He died in Philadelphia on May 16, 1815.

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Colonel Joseph Gardner SwiftColonel Joseph Gardner Swift

Chief Engineer

(July 31, 1812-November 12, 1818)

Born December 31, 1783, in Nantucket, Massachusetts, Joseph Swift was appointed a cadet by President John Adams and in 1802 became one of the first two graduates of the Military Academy.   He constructed Atlantic coast fortifications, 1804-1812, and was only 28 years old when appointed Colonel, Chief Engineer, and Superintendent of the Military Academy in 1812.   As Chief Engineer of the Northern Army, he distinguished himself at the Battle of Chrysler's Farm on November 11, 1813.   After completing defensive works in New York, Swift was voted "Benefactor to the City" by the corporation in 1814.   He helped to rebuild the burned capital in Washington.   He also reorganized the academic staff and planned new buildings at the Military Academy.   He resigned from the Army on November 12, 1818, and was appointed Surveyor of the Port of New York.   He held that customs post until 1827.   Swift was also one of the founders of the first New York Philharmonic Society in 1823.   As Chief Engineer for various railroads, he laid the first "T" rail.   From 1829 to 1845 Swift worked for the Corps of Engineers as a civilian, improving two harbors on Lake Ontario.   He died July 23, 1865, in Geneva, New York.

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Colonel Walker Keith ArmisteadColonel Walker Keith Armistead

Chief Engineer

(November 12, 1818-June 1, 1821)

Born in Virginia in 1785, Walker Armistead was named a cadet in the Corps of Artillerists and Engineers by President Jefferson in 1801.   On March 5, 1803, he became the third graduate of the new Military Academy and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers.   He served as superintending engineer of the defenses of New Orleans and Norfolk.   During the War of 1812, he was successively Chief Engineer of the Niagara frontier army and the forces defending Chesapeake Bay.   He was promoted to colonel and Chief Engineer on November 12, 1818.   When the Army was reorganized on June 1, 1821, he became commander of the 3d Artillery.   He was brevetted brigadier general in 1828.   He commanded the United States troops that opposed the Seminole Indians in Florida in 1840-41.   He died in Upperville, Virginia, October 13, 1845.

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Colonel Alexander MacombColonel Alexander Macomb

Chief Engineer

(June 1, 1821-May 24, 1828)

Born April 3, 1782, in Detroit, Michigan, Alexander Macomb entered the Army as a cornet of light dragoons in 1799 but was discharged in 1800.   He returned to the Army in 1801 as a second lieutenant of infantry and served as secretary of the commission negotiating treaties with the Indians of the Mississippi Territory.   He joined the Corps of Engineers in October 1802 as a first lieutenant and superintended construction of a depot, armory, and fortifications in the Carolinas and Georgia.   He also wrote a treatise on military law.   After rising to lieutenant colonel in the Corps of Engineers in 1810, he was appointed colonel, 3d Artillery, in 1812 and brigadier general in 1814.   In the latter year he commanded the Lake Champlain frontier force that repulsed a larger veteran British army at Plattsburg.   He was voted thanks and a gold medal by the Congress and brevetted major general.   In the reorganized Army, he was appointed colonel and Chief Engineer, 1821.   In that position, he administered the start of federal river and harbor improvements.   He was elevated to Commanding General of the Army with the rank of major general in 1828.   He died June 25, 1841, in Washington, D.C., and was buried with the highest military honors in Congressional Cemetery.   Macomb made the earliest known drawing (1807) to resemble the engineer button.

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Colonel Charles GratiotColonel Charles Gratiot

Chief Engineer

(May 24, 1828-December 6, 1838)

Charles Gratiot was born August 29, 1786, in St. Louis, Missouri.   President Jefferson appointed him cadet in 1804.   He graduated from the Military Academy in 1806 and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers.   He became a captain in 1808 and assisted Macomb in constructing fortifications in Charleston, South Carolina.   He was post commander of West Point in 1810-11.   He distinguished himself as General William Henry Harrison's Chief Engineer in the War of 1812.   He served as Chief Engineer in Michigan Territory (1817-18), and superintending engineer, construction of Hampton Roads defenses (1819-28).   On May 24, 1828, Gratiot was appointed colonel of engineers, brevet brigadier general, and Chief Engineer.   For ten years he administered an expanding program of river, harbor, road, and fortification construction.   He also engaged in a lengthy dispute with War Department officials over benefits, and in 1838 President Van Buren dismissed him for failing to repay government funds in his custody.   Gratiot became a clerk in the General Land Office and died May 18, 1855, in St. Louis.

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Brigadier General Joseph Gilbert TottenBrigadier General Joseph Gilbert Totten

Chief Engineer

(December 7, 1838-April 22, 1864)

Born August 23, 1788, in New Haven, Connecticut, Joseph Totten graduated from the Military Academy and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers on July 1, 1805.   He resigned in 1806 to assist his uncle, Major Jared Mansfield, who was then serving as Surveyor General of federal public lands.   Totten re-entered the Corps of Engineers in 1808 and assisted in building Castle Williams and other New York Harbor defenses.   During the War of 1812, he was Chief Engineer of the Niagara frontier and Lake Champlain armies.   He was brevetted lieutenant colonel for gallant conduct in the Battle of Plattsburg.   As a member of the first permanent Board of Engineers, 1816, he laid down durable principles of coast defense construction.   Appointed Chief Engineer in 1838, he served in that position for 25 years.   He was greatly admired by General Winfield Scott, for whom he directed the siege of Veracruz as his Chief Engineer during the Mexican War.   He was regent of the Smithsonian Institution and cofounder of the National Academy of Sciences.   He died April 22, 1864, in Washington, D.C.

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Major Isaac RoberdeauMajor Isaac Roberdeau

Chief, Topographical Bureau

(August 1, 1818-January 15, 1829)

Isaac Roberdeau was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 1763.   He studied engineering in London, returning to America in 1787 to write, survey, and pursue astronomy.   In 1791-92 he assisted Pierre L'Enfant in planning the new federal capital, the future Washington, D.C.   For the next two decades, he practiced engineering in Pennsylvania.   His work included assisting William Weston on a canal connecting the Schuykill and Susquehanna rivers.   During the War of 1812, he served in the Army as a major of topographical engineers, employed chiefly on fortifications.   After the war he assisted the Canadian boundary survey.   Secretary of War Calhoun appointed Roberdeau in 1818 to head the newly created Topographical Bureau of the War Department.   At first his duties were largely custodial; he prepared returns and maintained books, maps, and scientific equipment.   As the nation turned its attention to internal improvement, Roberdeau used his position to promote the civil activities of the topographical engineers.   He was brevetted lieutenant colonel in 1823.   He died in Georgetown, D.C., on January 15, 1829.

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Colonel John James Abert

Chief, Topographical Bureau

(January 31, 1829-April 11, 1861)

Chief, Corps of Topographical Engineers

(July 7, 1838-September 9, 1861)

Born September 17, 1788, in Frederick, Maryland, John Abert received an appointment as a Military Academy cadet in January 1808.   In 1811 he took a position in the War Department in Washington and resigned as cadet.   He joined the District of Columbia Militia as a private during the War of 1812 and fought at the Battle of Bladensburg.   In November 1814 he was appointed a topographical engineer with the brevet rank of major.   He worked on fortifications, surveys, and river and harbor improvements before being appointed Chief, Topographical Bureau, in 1829.   Abert headed the Corps of Topographical Engineers from its creation by Congress in 1838 until he retired in 1861.   Under his leadership the Corps of Topographical Engineers improved the navigability of rivers and harbors, particularly in the basins of the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes; conducted a survey of the hydraulics of the lower Mississippi River; constructed lighthouses and marine hospitals; explored large portions of the West; and conducted military, border, and railroad surveys.   Colonel Abert died in Washington, D.C., on January 27, 1863.

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Colonel Stephen H. Long Colonel Stephen H. Long

Chief, Topographical Bureau

(September 9, 1861-March 3, 1863)

Chief, Corps of Topographical Engineers

(December 12, 1861-March 3, 1863)

Born in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, December 30, 1784, Stephen Long graduated from Dartmouth in 1809 and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers in 1814.   Brevetted major, Topographical Engineers, in April 1816, he conducted extensive explorations and surveys in the old Northwest and Great Plains.   Long's Peak was named in his honor.   He fixed the nation's northern boundary at the 49th parallel at Pembina, North Dakota, in 1823.   He conducted surveys in the Appalachians for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and in 1829 published his Railroad Manual or a Brief Exposition of Principles and Deductions Applicable in Tracing the Route of a Railroad.   He served for years as Chief Engineer for improvement of the western rivers, with headquarters in Cincinnati, Louisville, and finally St. Louis.   He became Chief, Corps of Topographical Engineers, in 1861.   Upon consolidation of the two corps on March 3, 1863, Colonel Long became senior officer to the Chief Engineer, Corps of Engineers.   He retired that year and died in Alton, Illinois, September 4, 1864.

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Brigadier General Richard DelafieldBrigadier General Richard Delafield

Chief Engineer

(April 22, 1864-August 8, 1866)

Born September 1, 1798, in New York City, Richard Delafield was the first graduate of the Military Academy to receive a merit class standing, ranking first in the class of 1818.   Commissioned in the Corps of Engineers, he was a topographical engineer with the American commission to establish the northern boundary under the Treaty of Ghent.   He served as assistant engineer in the construction of Hampton Roads defenses (1819-24) and was in charge of fortifications and surveys in the Mississippi River delta area (1824-32).   While superintendent of repair work on the Cumberland Road east of the Ohio River, he designed and built the first cast-iron tubular-arch bridge in the United States.   Appointed Superintendent of the Military Academy after the fire in 1838, he designed the new buildings and the new cadet uniform that first displayed the castle insignia.   He superintended the construction of coast defenses for New York Harbor (1846-55), was a military observer at the siege of Sevastopol, and was again Superintendent of the Military Academy (1856-61).   He was in charge of New York Harbor defenses (1861-64) and Chief Engineer from 1864 until his retirement in 1866.   He died November 5, 1873, in Washington, D.C.   The Secretary of War ordered that 13 guns be fired in his memory at West Point.



Did you know? — that there is no known photograph, painting, or other likeness for the two profiles on this page missing a portrait.   (The modern painting of LTC Rochefontaine by Benjamin Russell was not painted from life.)

Part 1 (1775 -1865)       Part 2 (1866-1912)       Part 3 (1913-1952)       Part 4 (1953-present)

                     

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