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7th Engineer Battalion History


 

History of the 7th 

The history of the 7th Engineer Battalion dates back to the American Civil War. It first was organized as a provisional engineer battalion on December 31, 1861 in the Regular Army in Washington D.C. from a series of new and existing companies of engineers. During the Civil War, the battalion participated in the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Appomattox. The battalion was formally constituted as the Battalion of Engineers on July 28, 1866 and was credited for participation in the Spanish-American War at Santiago, Cuba in 1898.

 

The battalion continued to expand over the years and by August 29, 1917, the unit was designated the 7th Engineers. Later that fall in November 1917, the battalion joined the 5th Infantry Division as part of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War I. The unit distinguished itself at Alsace-Lorraine, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne. Most notably, the battalion established the bridgehead under heavy artillery fire on the eastern bank of the Meuse River, with seven separate crossings, a critical action that enable victory in Europe.

After World War I, most of the battalion was deactivated in 1921 at Camp Jackson, South Carolina and the rest later in 1933 at Fort Benning, Georgia. In response to World War II, the unit was redesignated the 7th Engineer Battalion and activated on October 16, 1939 at Fort Logan, Colorado. After two years of intensive training, the unit joined other U.S. units in Ireland and in August of 1943, the Seventh moved to England for final training before combat. The unit made twenty-five major river crossings during World War II, averaging three bridges per crossing. At the Moselle bridgehead over the Rhine River, the battalion built three bridges, with one holding long enough for an entire division to cross. At the Sauer River crossing, the engineers deactivated fifteen hundred mines in less than two hours, enabling an infantry regiment to advance. Of the 5th Division and the 7th Engineers, General George S. Patton said, “Nothing I can say can add to the glory which you have achieved. Throughout the whole advance across France, you spearheaded the advance of the Corps. You crossed so many rivers that I am persuaded many of you have web feet and I know all of you have dauntless spirits. To my mind, history does not record incidents of greater valor than your assault crossings of the Sauer and the Rhine.”

After World War II, the Battalion remained associated with the 5th Infantry Division.  Subordinate units of the battalion participated in combat operations in both Vietnam and Panama.  Along with the rest of the 5th Infantry Division, the 7th Engineer Battalion deactivated in 1992.

As part of the effort to grow the Engineer Regiment during the Global War on Terrorism, the 7th Engineer Battalion was reactivated on October 27, 2006 at Fort Drum, New York under the 20th Engineer Brigade.  The Battalion and its assigned companies deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.  In Iraq, the battalion provided tactical construction in support of United States Division - South, partnered with the Iraqi Army's 10th and 14th Field Engineer Regiments, and enhanced the civil capacity of Iraq via technical support for reconstruction projects.  In Afghanistan, Soldiers from the 7th conducted route clearance operations and provided firefighting support in the southern and eastern provinces, in support of NATO security operations.  The battalion deployed again to eastern Afghanistan to conduct route clearance operations from October 2011 to October 2012.