U.S. Army Corps of Engineers History

The forming of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began on June 14, 1775, more than a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Second Continental Congress established a regular army, naming George Washington the Commander-in-Chief. One of Washington’s first acts was to ask Congress to authorize a Chief Engineer and two assistants for the new Continental Army.

On June 16, 1775, a day now recognized as the founding date of the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers, Congress agreed and Washington appointed ex-British Colonel Richard Gridley as the first Chief of Engineers.

By midnight, Gridley and his men were at work, and a well-designed earthwork fortification was built by dawn of the next day to protect American Minutemen in the historic Battle of Bunker Hill. The engineers were instrumental in some of the hard fought battles of the Revolutionary War including Saratoga and the final victory at Yorktown.

Since that time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has responded to changing defense requirements and played an integral part in the development of the country. Throughout the 19th century, the Corps of Engineers built coastal fortifications, surveyed roads and canals, eliminated navigational hazards, explored and mapped the Western frontier, and constructed buildings and monuments in the Nation’s capital.

Mobile District History

Born in the shadows of the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has served our country since 1775. During the early 19th century, Congress and several presidents assigned duties including surveying, mapping, superintending the construction of roads, canals, and coastal defense works to military engineers.  The nature of these assignments was the first sign of the dual role that military engineers continue to fulfill to this day. This dual role of military and civil works – is totally unique to this organization.

As the Nation grew and its public works function expanded, the Chief of Engineers established division and district offices across the country. In 1888, the Chief of Engineers formally established the Mobile District.

Through the years, the Mobile District has responded in peace and war to meet the needs of our growing Nation. In 1957, the space race began with the Russian launch of Sputnik I. The U.S. responded by creating the National Aeronautical and Space Administration, and the district began an engineering-construction partnership with NASA that continues to exist today.

While our two primary missions have remained the same over the past 100-plus years – military construction and civil works – the district is quick to embrace the needs of the Nation. Today we play a key environmental role that includes protecting wetlands and environmental clean-up programs. In fact, environmental sustainment is our creed to balance the Nation’s environmental needs with our economic well-being.

The Mobile District has more than 1,100 civilian and 15 military personnel. Diversity and professional abilities best describe our workforce. From health care workers - to engineers – lock masters to rangers – architects to hydrologist – secretaries to surveyors – our district is a unique blend of some of the Nation’s best professionals.

The Mobile District has evolved for the past 140 years from coastal fortifications - to providing world-class engineering services - to supporting the Nation’s security, economy, environment and international objectives. We meet the mission through our vision of being recognized by our customers as setting the standard for excellence.

Mobile District Across Time