Washington Roebling is well known as the man who supervised construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. His path to overseeing that monumental task began during the Civil War.
In addition to his brave, dramatic actions at Gettysburg, his Civil War service was remarkable: artilleryman, bridge builder, scout, balloonist, mapmaker, engineer, and staff officer. His story reveals much about Gettysburg but also about Civil War intelligence and engineering and the politics and infighting within the Army of the Potomac’s high command. Roebling’s service—leadership, engineering, decision-making, and managing personalities and politics—prepared him well for overseeing the Brooklyn Bridge.
Diane Monroe Smith is the author of Fanny & Joshua: The Enigmatic Lives of Frances Caroline Adams and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Thomas Publications, 1999; University Press of New England, 2013), Command Conflicts in Grant’s Overland Campaign: Ambition and Animosity and the Army of the Potomac (McFarland, 2012), and Chamberlain at Petersburg: The Charge at Fort Hell (Thomas Publications, 2004). She is an expert on the Army of the Potomac’s 5th Corps (in which Chamberlain served and which Gouverneur Warren commanded after Gettysburg). Smith has been a volunteer guide at the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Museum and has spoken widely on Chamberlain and Maine in the Civil War, including at National Park Service events, Civil War roundtables, and historical societies. She lives near Bangor, Maine.