A New Kind of Soldier, Armed With a Hammer
Fortifications Built During the Siege of Boston
16, 1775 - On June 16, 1775, during the Siege of
Boston, the Second Continental Congress authorizes the
building of fortifications. Fortifications are raised by
building mounds of dirt and fences, and they are
reinforced with vegetation and brush. Colonists are able
to fire at the British from behind these fortifications.
The engineers responsible for building them prove so
valuable to the Revolutionary forces that, four years
later, Congress forms the "corps of engineers." The
engineers enjoy the same rights, honors, and privileges as
other troops but are in charge of all kinds of
construction projects, and they still are. What else do
you suppose they have built?
The Army Corps of
Engineers helps to build some of Washington's earliest
public buildings. They later direct the construction of
the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington
National Cemetery, and the Library of Congress, among
other sites. Along with the Work Projects Administration
(WPA) during the Great Depression, the Corps planned,
construct, and maintain a vast flood control network along
the Mississippi River. The engineers create dams and locks
that make the Mississippi even more navigable by ships.
And there's more.
In World War II, the Corps of
Engineers work in Europe and the Asian-Pacific Islands as
well as at home. In 1942, they create the Alaska Highway,
originally a military supply route. On D-Day, when Allied
forces invade France, the Corps clears a path and lays a
road on Omaha Beach for the attack. Today, the Corps
provides one of the nation's largest supplies of
hydroelectric power, cleans up hazardous waste products,
and continues construction of buildings and other public
projects around the world.