The Engineer Castle
The appropriateness of the turreted castle as a symbol of the Army Corps of Engineers is readily apparent. The medieval castle is inseparably connected with fortifications and architecture. In heraldry, the castle and the tower are often used on coats of arms or given as charges in the shield of individuals who overcome walled fortifications, were the first to mount their walls ore successfully defended them.
In this country the term "castle" has been applied to the strongest of our early fortifications such as Castle Pickney in Charleston, South Carolina, and Castle Williams and Clinton in New York Harbor. The Castle is a highly stylized form without decoration or embellishment.
The Army officially adopted the castle to appear on the Corps of Engineers Epaulets and belt plate, in 1840. Soon afterwards the cadets at West Point, all of whom were part of the Corps of Engineers until the Military Academy left the charge of the Chief of Engineers and came under the charge of the Army at Large in 1866, also wore the castle on their cap beginning in 1841. Subsequently the castle appeared on the shoulder knot; on the saddle cloth, as a collar device, and on the buttons.
Although its design has changed many times
since its inception, the castle has remained the distinctive symbol of the Corps
The Engineer Dress Button
The Corps of Engineers' oldest and most time honored insignia is the exclusive Essayons Button. It has not changed in basic design since the war of 1812. It is still the required button for the Army Engineers' uniform.
Evidence which could establish the actual facts concerning the designing and adoption of the Essayons Button probably burned at West Point in 1838, when the building containing the library and earliest official Corps of Military Academy records caught fire.
However, while early Army regulations mentioned the "button of Engineers... with only the device and motto heretofore established", apparently no authoritative detailed description of the button appeared until 1840. The Army prescribed new uniforms on February 18, 1840, in General Orders 7, AGO, which officially described the button as follows:
An eagle holding in his beak a scroll with the word, 'Essayons,' a bastion with embrasures in the distance, surrounded by water, and rising sun; the figures to be of dead gold upon a bright field."
In 1902, when the Army
adopted "regulation" buttons, it allowed only the Corps of Engineers
to retain its own distinctive Essayons Button in recognition of the
distinguished traditions that it symbolized.
The Army Engineer Regimental Association Crest
A silver color metal and enamel device 1 1/16 inches in height consisting of a scarlet shield with silver border and gold castle at center and attached below a scarlet scroll inscribed "ESSAYONS" in silver. The regimental insignia was approved on 11 April 1986.
THE U.S. ARMY ENGINEER
BRANCH SONG "ESSAYONS"
Essayons, sound out the battle cry
Essayons, we'll win or we'll die
Essayons, there's nothing we won't try
We're the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Pin the castle on my collar
I've done my training for the team
You can call me an engineer soldier
The warrior spirit has been my dream
We are builders, we are fighters
We are destroyers just as well
There've been doubters who met with the sappers
And then we blew them all straight to hell
Our brothers fighting on the battlefield
Look to us to point the way
We get there first and then we take the risks
To build the roads and the air strips
And bridge the mighty river streams
We don't care who gets the glory
We're sure of one thing, this we know
Somewhere out there an engineer soldier
Designed the plan for the whole darn show
Essayons whether in war or peace
We will bear our red and our white
Essayons we serve America
And the U.S. Army Corps of engineers
Play the song
16 June 1775. Continental
Congress authority for a "Chief of Engineer for the Army" dates from
16 June 1775. A Corps of Engineers for the United States was authorized by the
Congress on 11 March 1779. The Corps of Engineers, as it is known today, came
into being on 16 March 1802, when the President was authorized to "organize
and establish a Corps of Engineers...that the said Corps...shall be stationed at
West Point in the State of New York and shall constitute a Military
Academy." A Corps of Topographical Engineers, authorized on 4 July 1838,
was merged with the Corps of Engineers on 3 March 1963.
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