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The History of The 116th Engineers

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This tells the story of how 850 men from the 116th Engineers were transferred to the 1st and 2nd Engineers
  • History
  • Roster
First Depot Division
American Expeditionary Forces, France
Edited and published by the Training Section
Corporal Mark A. Shields, Editor
November 11, 1918

The ever-changing personnel of officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted men of the 116th Engineers, combined with the various functions of the organization since its inception, presents a confusing yet interesting history. Compared with other regiments of Engineers, its composition and duties have been irregular in a marked degree.

Formed and trained in the States as a pioneer organization, upon arrival in France the 116th Engineers was named as a Training Replacement Regiment — the only regiment of Engineers in France functioning in this regard. The reorganization of the regiment to meet the new problems, the securing of adequate facilities to carry on the constantly increasing scope of work, the classification of men with special training along certain lines — and the actual training of a constant stream of men arriving from the United States, goes to make up a story the half of which the mere recital of bare facts will never convey.

Forming the New Regiment

The 116th Engineers was formed at Camp Greene, N. C., pursuant to G. O. 2, Hq. 41st Div., dated September 19, 1917, with the First Separate Battalion, Oregon Engineers, under command of Major Herbert A. Brandon, and the Second Battalion, Second Idaho Infantry, under command of Major Dewitt P. Olson. Colonel Meriweather L. Walker, Corps of Engineers, was given the command.

First Separate Battalion
Oregon Engineers.

The First Separate Battalion, Oregon Engineers, was mustered into the Federal Service at Camp Withycombe, Oregon, on Aug. 20, 1917, about one month after their organization.

The Battalion consisted of three companies, with officers, as follows : Co. A, Capt. William C. Parrish, 1st Lt. George C. Gorham, 1st Lt. Ray Olsen, and 2d Lt. Daniel N. Plowman ; Co. B. 1st Lt. Robert J. Chrisman and 1st Lt. Alfred D. Collier ; Co. G., Capt. Stanley E. Borleske, 1st Lt. Fred C. Bidwell, 1st Lt. Mason N. Roberts and 2d Lt. Irving I. Niles. First Lt. John Olson, Dental Corps, and 1st Lt. Clifton D. Rosin, Medical Reserve Corps, were assigned to duty with the Battalion, with Major Herbert A. Brandon commanding and Capt. Leonard A. Lundgron as adjutant.

On Aug. 21, 1917, Co. A was ordered to Camp Fremont, Calif., and Cos. B and C with Headquarters, to Camp Lewis, Wash., where engineering work was to be done in connection with the construction of cantonments.

The Battalion was ordered to proceed to Camp Greene, N. C., Co. A receiving their order on Sept, 3, and the balance of the Battalion on Sept. 12, 1917. It was at this camp, shortly after their arrival, that they were incorporated in the new organization, the 116th Engineers.

Second Battalion, Second Idaho Infantry

The Second Idaho Infantry was organized in 1904, received the usual instruction of an infantry unit, and attended the annual National Guard maneuver camps until June 19, 1916, on which date it was called into the Federal Service and mustered in at Boise Barracks, Idaho, on July 3, 1916.

On July 7 the regiment was sent to Nogales, Arizona, as a part of the United States forces doing border patrol duty. During the six months at this station the regiment received very intensive training under regular army officers, at the same time functioning as a border patrol throughout the Nogales District.

The regiment entrained on December 20 and proceeded to Boise Idaho, remaining there until January 28, 1917, at which time the regiment, with the exception of Major Olson and Captain Boies was mustered out of the service.

The regiment was again mustered into the Federal Service on March 26, 1917, at Boise, Idaho and utilized as a guard for rail roads, mines, smelters, and other utilities in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and utah [sic].

The Second Battalion, less companies F, and H, which were retained on guard duty in the Northwest, proceeded on Sept. 26 to Camp Greene, N. C., arriving there Oct. 1; companies F and H joining the organization at Camp Mills, N. Y. on Oct. 29[.] Upon arrival at Camp Greene, Company G, officered by Captain D. F. Banks (absent), 1st Lt. Walter S Church and 2nd Lt. Samuel C. Webb, was merged into the 116 Engineers and became Company D, Company E retaining its designation with the following officers, Captain Richard B. Kading (absent) 1st Lt George I Bowling and 2 Lt. James W. Porter.

Supply Train and Band, Second North Dakota Infantry

At the time of its organization, the Supply Train and the Band of the Second North Dakota Infantry, were incorporated into the 116th Engineers. The command of the Supply Train was given to Capt. John W. Rock, while the direction of the Band remained with Master Engineer Harold B. Bachman.

From Bismarck, N. D., where the Second North Dakota Infantry was mobilized on Sept. 1, 1917, the Band and Supply Train proceeded to Camp Greene, N. C., where the two units joined their new organization on Oct. 1st. Capt. Rock later became Regimental Supply officer. 1st. Lt. Herbert G. Markley, also of the Second North Dakota Infantry, was assigned to duty as Chaplain with the new regiment.

The 116th Engineers.

For five weeks the new regiment remained at Camp Greene, officers and men striving with utmost endeavor to fit themselves for overseas service. A schedule of trench digging, construction of various kinds of fortifications, etc., was carried out at this station. A somewhat elaborate system of trenches was also laid out and the actual construction work begun, but orders to proceed to Camp Mills, Long Island, N. Y., interrupted the work. On October 29th the regiment was joined by Companies F and H, the former commanded by Captain Henry M. Jones, with 1st. Lt. John W. Newman and 2nd Lt. Raymond C. Hill, while Company H under command of Captain Harry E. Boies, with 1st Lt, F. C. Hummel and 2nd Lt, John M. Regan was transferred into Headquarters Company.

Captain Leonard Lundgren having been relieved of his duties as acting regimental Adjutant was appointed Topographical officer, and Captain Harry E. Boies became the Regimental Adjutant.

Five hundred drafted men were received from Camp Lewis, Washington, completing the formation of the organization as a Pioneer Engineer Regiment at full war strength.

On November 26 the regiment, aboard the U. S. S. Tenedores [sic Tenadores] and the U. S. S. Mallory, sailed for foreign service, arriving at St. Nazaire, France, on December 10. The regiment proceeded immediately to a rest camp at the same place, the cold weather preventing any extensive training. It was at this station, three days after arrival, that, although equipped and trained as a pioneer organization, it became designated as a training replacement regiment. At the same time orders were received to send 850 men to the 1st and 2nd Engineers, and before leaving this station the Atlantic Transport Service was supplied with approximately 350 men and two officers.

S.S. Tenadores Passenger List November 26, 1917
1917 Roster - Co. G, Idaho National Guard
United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. Regiment, 1. Training Section. (1918). The history of the 116th Engineers, First Depot Division, American Expeditionary Forces, France. Angers, France: Caserne Desjardins.

Front Row--E. S. Becker, Palmer Rude, Melville S. Jones, Harry O. Elder, Herschel P. Nunn, William Clubb and Hugh O. Swartz.

Back Row--William B. Hillebrand, William Merritt, Leonard Dean, Wallace J. Coyle and Clarence E. Hunt.

Master Engineers absent--Harold E. Bachman, Leonard Mahan, George E. Anderson, James Hatfield, Frank. G. Bell, Robert Bruce, Spencer Boise, Edward R. Moore, J. T. Russell. Ernest E, Duncan, William A. Young, Harold E. Smith and Carl Frielanger.


Standing--Sgt. John J. Belensky, Sgt. Paul O. West, Sgt. Gay O. Johson, Pvt. Bernard A. Medigan and Corps. Miles J. Cunat

Sitting--Sgt. Donald V. Hanson, Sgt. Max. P. Wardwell, Corp. Arthur R. Gray, Sgt. Albert M. Sutton and Sgt. David C. Moore.

This roster in incomplete. Ed.
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