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Norfolk District 135: Gustav J. Fiebeger

Norfolk District Public Affairs
Published Aug. 27, 2014
NORFOLK, Va. -- Gustav J. Fiebeger became the fifth in command of what would later become the Norfolk District when he took over as officer in charge on July 1, 1890. Under his command, the Norfolk office removed the wreck of the E.L. Pettengill from a local channel, dredged the Norfolk Harbor and reported "progress" on improving the depth and width of the Appomattox River.
He left the Norfolk office Nov. 20, 1891.

NORFOLK, Va. -- Gustav J. Fiebeger became the fifth in command of what would later become the Norfolk District when he took over as officer in charge on July 1, 1890. Under his command, the Norfolk office removed the wreck of the E.L. Pettengill from a local channel, dredged the Norfolk Harbor and reported "progress" on improving the depth and width of the Appomattox River. He left the Norfolk office Nov. 20, 1891.

Gustav J. Fiebeger was born May 9, 1858 in Acron, Ohio and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1879.

New York Times article dating Aug. 14, 1888, stated, “First Lieut. Gustav J. Fiebeger, Engineer Corp has been ordered to duty at Norfolk, Virginia, on being relived from duty at West Point.”

Fiebeger became the fifth in command of what would later become the Norfolk District when he took over as officer in charge on July 1, 1890.

Under his command, the Norfolk office removed the wreck of the E.L. Pettengill, which sank on March 16, 1889. The wreckage was determined to be a “dangerous obstruction” lying in the channel between Cape Henry and Hampton Roads. The debris from the wreck was removed at a cost of $1,325.

He oversaw the examination of the North Landing River, obstruction removal, and he determined that future operations to be confined to removal of occasional shoals and logs abandoned by passing rafts.

In his annual report to the chief of engineers, Fiebeger reported “constant progress” in improving the width and depth of the Appomattox River to 12 feet at high tide and “as much width of the channel as the river would bear.”

The Norfolk Harbor was dredged and reported to be in “good condition” and the final payment on the approach to Norfolk Harbor and the Navy yard between Lambert’s Point and Fort Norfolk was made. He left the Norfolk office on Nov. 20, 1891.

Later, as a lieutenant colonel, he held a position as a professor of civil and military engineering at the U.S. Military Academy in May 1896, and as a colonel, a professor of civil and military engineering at the academy in 1906.

During that time, Fiebeger was also a member of advisory board on construction of new buildings at West Point and wrote several books on land operations during war, the battle of Gettysburg, and military art and science.

He was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal for “exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I, as professor of Civil and Military Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy. As head of the Department of Civil and Military Engineering Colonel Fiebeger for 26 years instructed, both personally and by textbook, the officers of the Army in the principles of warfare, principles later fruitfully applied by many of these officers as commanders in the World War.”

Fiebeger died on Oct. 18, 1939 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.