In the years before the Civil War, graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who finished at the top of their class invariably went into the Engineer Corps, so prestigious was that service. This attitude continued during the Civil War where, whether supervising the construction of a pontoon bridge, a railroad bridge, or a corduroy road, or building field fortifications and battery emplacements, the engineer officer was always one of the most valued on any general's staff. This colonel of engineers in the Confederate service looks exactly the regulation picture of what he is supposed to be, from special hat insignia, with the "E" (for "Engineers") in Gothic script, to his standard blouse, trousers, sash and facings. Indeed, but for his kepi, he could easily be a Southern field officer of infantry. Regulations required engineers to wear the chapeau, but they never did. But, the war changed so many things, one of them being that fixed defenses became less important as the armies became ever more mobile.
Below: What Confederate engineers lacked in equipment they made up in ingenuity. These elaborate defenses at Centreville, Virginia, fooled the Federals from a distance, for a while: the big guns turned out to be "Quaker guns" cut from tree trunks.
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