Items of Interest

Company A of the Engineers was organized as a Company of Sappers, Miners, and Pontoniers at the U. S. Military Academy, West Point, NY June 1846. Sappers excavated trenches under defensive fire to advance a besieging army's position, Miners excavated tunnels to advance a besieging army's position, and Pontoneers built pontoon bridges with rafts and boats. Company A served gallantly during the Mexican-American War of 1846. During the war, Robert E. Lee, George McClellan, and P.G.T. Beauregard served as lieutenants in Company A. On Dec. 31, 1861, Company A operating with 2 additional new companies of miners, sappers, and pontoniers, became the U. S. Engineer Battalion. On July 5, 1862, another company was organized near Harrison’s Landing, Va. February 26, 1901, the 1st Battalion of Engineers was organized from Companies A, B and E, Battalion of Engineers.

The First Regiment of Engineers was organized at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, on July 1, 1916, but prior to the start of World War II, the 1st Engineer Regiment was reorganized as the 1st Engineer Combat Battalion and again assigned to fight as part of the 1st Infantry Division. The 1st Engineer Battalion is the oldest and most decorated engineer battalion in the United States Army. During its long history, the battalion has received 62 decorations and campaign streamers and eight foreign awards.

The First US Army maneuvers of August 1935, were the largest peace-time maneuvers in the nation's history at that point, they involved 1 regular Army and 4 National Guard Divisions, in a 78-square-mile area adjacent to Pine Camp, NY. The peacetime maneuvers were held on Pine Plains and surrounding farmlands. Approximately 36,500 soldiers came from throughout the Northeast to take part in the exercise. Some soldiers traveled by trains, which arrived in town every 15 minutes and even some by leased taxicabs. The 250 officers and 4,400 men of the "Fighting First" Division, pride of the Regular Army, rolled out on the first day to battle against an imaginary enemy in the greatest American motorized operation since World War I.

The objects of the maneuvers were to provide training in: 1) mobilization, 2) the "logistics of a concentration," 3) field service. Of the five divisions present the 1st Division which includes the 1st Engineers were in the process of motorization. The other four—44th New Jersey & New York, 27th New York, 43rd and 26th New England—had to depend largely on trains, although as an experiment 400 taxicabs and private trucks were hired to convey troops to the camp from Buffalo and Manhattan at a cost of $95,000. All told, there were nearly 3,000 motorcabs engaged in the maneuvers as compared to 1,337 horses and mules. There were also 55 tractors, three tanks (not counting 27 worthless relics of the War) and a detachment of motorized cavalry. The three Christie tanks, eleven-ton monsters, were capable of traveling 60 m.p.h. on roads, 30 m.p.h. over hill & dale.

      NY Times /
First Battalion of Engineers /First Engineer Regiment Beginnings
First US Army maneuvers Pine Camp, NY