20th Engineering Battalion
Organizational Legacy
"Build and Fight"

Lyrics and Music by Jo Johnston
Synthesized by Malcolm Dale

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"Recruiting Add Placed In The Timberman, February 1918"

Battalion Distinctive Unit Insignia


The 1st Cavalry Division, a major subordinate command of the US Third Mobile Armored Corps, is a 19,000 soldier, heavy armored division stationed at Ft. Hood, TX. As one of the two "on-call" heavy contingency force divisions of the Army, the First Team has an on-order mission to deploy by sea, air or land to any part of the world on a short notice. The following narratives, divided in timeline eras of major operational missions, describes the threat environment, tactical conditions, evolution of equipment technology and the strategic methodology employed by one of the subnorate units of the Engineering Brigade, the 8th Engineer Battalion, The Battalion's accomplishments and and the honors they achieved are summarized in the sections that follow.

Officially, the 20th Engineer Battalion was reorganized and relieved from assignment to the Engineering Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. On 28 February, 2006 the Army re-activated the 20th Engineers. The 20th Engineers are assigned to the newly-formed 36th Engineer Brigade, part of III Corps at Fort Hood. The brigade was built upon the old 36th Engineer Group that was formerly stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia.


The mission of the 20th Engineer Battalion is to, on order, deploy to designated contingency area of operations as an Engineer Mission Force to provide tailorable and scalable Combat Engineering Support with any mix of 3 to 5 company sized Engineer Effects Modules to enable full spectrum operations. It is also to ensure mission readiness of assigned companies and Engineer Effects Modules in the engineer force pool. As sson as the threat is eradicated, on Order, the Battalion redeploys and prepares for future operations.

Organizational Summary:

The 20th Engineer Battalion has a rich and colorful history that dates back to he beginning of the involvement of America in World War I. The following is a summery of the need for Forestry Engineers, organizational approaches and their efforts to deploy.

When the United States entered the first World War in April 1917, one of the first requests from their French and British Allies was for regiments of trained lumbermen. Timber was in constant demand for almost every phase of military operations in Europe, and limitations on trans-Atlantic shipping space meant that nearly the entire timber supply had to come from French forests. In order to maintain this supply, the forests would have to be carefully managed. The Allies agreed that American forestry units would work in France's forests, producing materials in accordance with the principles of French forestry.

Army Forestry Engineers In World War-I

As early as 25 August, the Chief of Engineers requested the assistance of the Forest Service in providing officers for the forest troops about to be assembled. It was suggested that provision be made to supply officers for 15 battalions of forestry troops and three service battalions, including a total of 28 Majors, 127 Captains, 215 1st Lieutenants, and 155 2nd Lieutenants. These men were to be 25 per cent forestry experts, 25 percent officers with military training, and 50 percent sawmill and logging men.

The US Army, with assistance from the US Forest Service, state foresters, and lumber trade associations, immediately began recruiting experienced foresters, loggers, and sawmill workers for these new regiments. Committees of prominent men in the lumber trade were formed in many parts of the country to meet applicants for commissions and to decide upon their fitness as officer material. The ranks of the new forest regiment, known as the 20th Engineers (Forestry), were filled from the Engineer Enlisted Reserve Corps, be recruiting, by the Forest Service, and from the scheduled draft.

On 09 September, 1917 the actual organization of the Twentieth Engineers was affected at American University with Major Earl S. Atkinson in command until relieved on the 15th by Col. W. A. Mitchell, who had been stationed in the office of the Chief of the Engineers and actively engaged in the work of organization. The headquarters was established at American University where nearly all of the companies underwent organization, increase to authorized strength, equipment, and military drill. Due to the inability of this new camp to accommodate the rapidly growing regiment, some of the troops were stationed for varying periods at Fort Myer and Camp Belvoir, Virginia.

For several reasons, principally those of clothing and shelter, it was found impossible to recruit and train the entire regiment at one time. One or two battalions taxed the capacity of American University Camp. On 20 August, the 1st and 2nd Battalions were authorized to be formed, with a maximum of 1,200 men. On 08 September, these battalions were formed of surplus men transferred from the 10th Engineers, by order of the Commanding Officer of the Eastern Department. On 26 September the strength of the 1st and 2nd Battalion was increased to 1,600 men

Their training completed, the 1st and 2nd Battalions were delayed in their departure for France by the lack of denim coats, trousers and woolen gloves. The difficulties encountered in properly and rapidly equipping the men, but in early October it was considered dangerous to send men across the ocean in thin underclothes, khaki overclothes and no overcoats. Orders were issued "not to deploy until clothing was available". Scouring the country for clothes. the Commander managed to steal some from Camp Meade, at Annapolis Junction, Maryland, and sent his motor trucks over to Baltimore and grabbed some overcoats under manufacture and not yet delivered to the Quartermaster Department, and so on, but even now, over two weeks after the regiment should have been on the high seas, it is not outfitted.

The 3rd and 4th Battalions were authorized September 28th, as was the 503rd Engineer Service Battalion. The 3rd Battalion was stationed at Camp Belvoir and the 4th, initiated by transfers from the 3rd, was located at the University. These two battalions were beset with clothing difficulties to the extent that recruiting for them was stopped for a time. They were given clothing and equipment priority over all other troops except those ordered overseas in October.

On 07 December, the War Department directed that the organization of the remaining six battalions be proceeded with, and the Chief of Engineers reported to the Chief of Staff that the 3rd and 4th Battalions would be ready sail about 12 December. On 15 December, the Secretary of War reviewed the two battalions, which were de[ployed overseas on 04 January.

From the ackward start, the 20th toured England and battled in France in World War I; through French North Africa and Sicily, across Omaha Beach and deep into Europe in World War II; back to Germany during the Berlin Crisis; through the jungles of Vietnam; and the sands of Saudi Arabia and Iraq; fighting fires in Idaho and Montana; and peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the soldiers and officers of the 20th Engineer Regiment and Battalion have gallantly served as one of the proudest units in the US Army.

The following sections is dedicated to those officers and men who have trained, fought, and died as members of the Lumberjack Battalion.

This folio of material highlights of the many subsequent historical critical missions performed by members of the 8th Engineer Battalion, whose actions, operations and the many critical issues resolved over its 90+ years history to meet the changing threat and the honors they achieved are summarized in the following sections:

Table of Contents

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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.

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