Captain E.I. VanAntwerp Leads Company D of the 16th Regiment of Engineers (Railway) on May 6, 1919 in front of the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit, MI.
16th Engineers Regiment (Railway)
Michigan's Only All Volunteer Regiment
The 16th Regiment of Engineers (Railway) was Organized, Mobilized and Trained with in the City Limits of Detroit, Michigan.
War had become a gigantic concentration of man power and equipment for the actual waging of offense. This necessitated an unprecedented non-combatant backing of man power to supply the battle line with needed food, munitions, sanitary, medical and surgical care, means of communication and transport, and countless other accessories.
Linkage of supply to front lines had to be maintained by railway and trackage, as no other means could convey the great tonnages that had to be transported to the actual scene of battle, a line four hundred miles long in Europe's "Western Front". This Fighting line was cut into sectors that were held by the various armies of the Allies, and the required transport to each of these armies was so arranged that there would be minimum of cross-traffic to impede the flow of supplies.
The American Expeditionary Force in Europe, besides its stream of trans-Atlantic transport and supply, would need in France auxiliary American soldiery, capable of combatant duty, yet whose principal duty would be to construct, maintain and operate railways from port of debarkation to the frontline sector assigned to the American armies. The planning of the 6th Reserve Engineer Regiment, later the 16th Engineers, started in early March of 1917. On May 5,1917, Lt. Col. Harry Burgess was directed by the army to organize his regiment. On June 5, 1917 the first of several hundred men mobilized at the Michigan State Fairgrounds at Woodard Ave. and Eight Mile.
On Sunday evening, July 29, 1917, in pouring rain the 16th Engineers left the Michigan State Fair Grounds on trains for Weehawken, N.J.. Arriving on the morning of July 31st. At sunset on August 1, 1917, the 16th left Pier 54 in New York on the liner Tuscania. The 16th arrived in "Sunny France" on August 27, 1917 after a 10 day delay because the Tuscania ran aground in Halifax, N.S. and had to be repaired.
The 16th Engineers built Camp Williams in France, worked on the largest construction project of the A. E. F., the Never's Cutoff, served with the British during the German spring offensive of 1918 and built the Marcy Engine Terminal to name but a few of their projects.
The 16th Regiment of Engineers (Railway) arrived in Detroit at the Michigan Central Depot on the evening of May 5,1919. On May 6th, they paraded through the streets of Detroit before going to Camp Custer to be mustered out of service.