In modern military operations, no more striking examples of the importance of engineer troops and their work can be found than in the American Civil War
. For much of the country over which this great struggle was waged, proper maps were wanting, and frequently roads and bridges had to be built before military movements could be executed.
Rivers had to be bridged by pontoons and semi-permanent structures; entrenchments and fortifications had to be constructed when Camp was made or a definite position taken for defense or siege, and finally, the men doing this had always to consider the laying-aside of axe and spade, and, shouldering the musket, take their place on the firing-line, where they gave an account of themselves second to none of the combatant organizations.
Such conditions of warfare were in striking contrast to those under which the great wars of Europe
had been fought, for in the campaigns of Frederick, of Napoleon
, and of Moltke
, practically every inch of the territory was known and mapped.
Military operations took place where well-built roads made travel easy; where permanent forts and walled cities were found, and fighting in swamps or on mountaintops was unknown.
In short, with the formal military science of the day, the American
engineers so combined characteristic ingenuity and the lessons of civil life that the progress and success of the battling ranks were made possible under conditions never before encountered in a great war.
The inception of the present Corps of Engineers in the