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Posted 12/19/2014

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Norfolk District Public Affairs


Edward Burr graduated from the United States Military Academy in June 1882.

After graduating, he served with a battalion of engineers, at Willet’s Point N.Y., from September 1882 to October 1884.

From December 1884 to October 1885, and then again in November 1886 to April 1888, Burr was assigned as an assistant to Capt. C.W. Powell, who was the engineer in charge of river and harbor improvements on the Willapa River in Washington state.

Between his assignments of being Powell’s assistant, Burr served as an engineer officer of the Department of the Columbia, October 1885 to December 1886.

Burr served as an assistant to Maj. T. H. Handbury, and temporarily to Col. George Mendell, chief of Government Engineers of the Pacific Coast, in connection with obstructions to navigation on the Columbia River between December 1886 to November 1889.

Burr was the Cascade Locks Chief Construction Engineer and remained as assistant to Maj. T. H. Handbury in 1891.

He moved back east when he was assigned as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Norfolk Field Office’s sixth commander from December 1891 to November 1894.

While in command of the Norfolk U.S. Engineers Office, Capt. Edward Burr oversaw  improvements to the inland water route (Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal) from Norfolk, Virginia to Albemarle Sound, North Carolina.  These improvements included logging and dredging operations on the North Landing River, as well as straightening the river and making it 80 feet wide and 9 feet deep.

After his tour of duty with the Norfolk office ended, he was assigned as the assistant to the Engineer Commissioner of the District of Columbia November 1894 to April 1898 and was temporarily in charge of the Washington Aqueduct in May of 1898.

Burr was promoted to lieutenant colonel, 2d U.S. Volunteer Engineers, a unit created specifically for the Spanish-American War, on June 7, 1898. He was  mustered out of volunteer service in May  1899.

Burr took part in the campaign against Santiago de Cuba in the Spanish-American War as the Fifth Army Corps Battalion of Engineers Company E Commander from June 1898 to July 1898. 

He was received the Spanish War Medal for his service in the campaign against Santiago de Cuba.

After returning from duty in Cuba, Burr was with the Engineer Regiment at Montauk Long Island between August and October 1898.

He was then assigned to be Acting Chief Engineer, 2nd Army Corps at Middleton, Pennsylvania and Augusta, Georgia, from October 1898 to November 1898.

Burr spent time on temporary duty in the Office of Chief of Engineers between November 1898 to March 1899.  

Between March 1899 to November 1901, he was in St. Louis Missouri and was in charge of improvements of the Mississippi River between Missouri and the Ohio rivers. 

Burr was an instructor of electricity in the Engineer School from November  1901 to March 1903.

He was promoted to major Jan. 29, 1903 and became commandant of the U.S. Army Engineers School shortly thereafter in April 1903 to June 1906

While he was commandant he was also the engineer officer and acting chief of staff, First Maneuver Division, Manassas, Virginia between August and September 1904.

After his duties at the Engineer school, he was assigned as the engineer of the First and Second Lighthouse Districts in June 1906 to May 1910. (Background from the U.S. Coast Guard: "In 1838, under the authority of an Act of Congress passed this date, the President divided the Atlantic coast into six, and the Great Lakes coast into two, lighthouse districts. A naval officer was detailed to each lighthouse district, a revenue cutter or a hired vessel was placed at his disposal, and he was instructed to inspect all aids to navigation, report on their conditions, and recommend future courses of action.") 

The districts, which extended from the St. Croix River in Maine to Elisha Ledge, off Warren Point, Rhode Island, “embraced all aids to navigation” within its jurisdiction.

Burr was also in charge of the defenses of Boston Harbor and on Lake Champlain, as well as in charge of river and harbor improvements in eastern Massachusetts and Lake Champlain.

Burr was promoted to lieutenant colonel on Feb. 14, 1908.

From May 1910 to September 1914, he served in Washington as assistant to the Chief Engineer, and was promoted to colonel while there on March 2, 1912.

Burr was sent to the Philippine Islands where he was the Department Engineer, Philippine Department, which was the higher headquarters for the Field Hospital and Ambulance Company No. 4 from November 1914 to November 1916. He was also in charge of Engineer Depot in Manila. 

Burr became the Department Engineer, Western Department, the higher headquarters for the Third Division, Seventh Brigade; 30th Infantry, and Pacific Coast Artillery District  Jan. 15 – June 1, 1917.

He was then assigned as the Division Engineer for Pacific Division from Feb. 1 to May 21, 1917. While in his duties as the division engineer, he was a member and president, of the California Debris Commission, and detailed for consultation or to superintend the construction or repair of aides to navigation, 18th Lighthouse District in Washington.

Burr organized and commanded the Fourth Regiment of Engineers and commanded the engineer training camp and post, June 4 to Aug. 24, 1917.  

He was promoted to brigadier general in National Army, a portion of the Army that was stoodup for World War I, Aug. 5, 1917.

Burr travelled with the brigade to France on June 28, 1918 and was stationed at Clermont Ferrand Puy de Dome Artillery Training Center from July 31 to Aug. 21, 1918, where he was relieved from command of 166th Field Artillery Brigade  and took command of 62nd Field Artillery Brigade, 37th Division on Aug 22, 1918 at Camp de Souge.

From Aug. 22 to Sept. 19, 1918 he served with the 62nd Field Artillery Brigade on the Meuse Moselle front and was relieved from command of 62nd Field Artillery Brigade on Jan 29, 1919.

He was honorably discharged as a brigadier general from the National Army on Feb 5, 1919 but continued to serve as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Burr assumed command of the United States Engineer’s office, First District of New York -- the predecessor to today’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District -- on March 19, 1919.

He retired from the U.S. Army on May 19, 1923.

After his retirement he was promoted by congressional action to brigadier general in May 1930.

Army Commander Edward Burr Norfolk District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers