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Signal Corps, U.S. Army


SIGNAL CORPS, U.S. ARMY. Congress created the U.S. Army Signal Corps on 21 June 1860. For more than a century, the term "Signal Corps" referred to both a separate unit within the War Department and the units having primary responsibility for army signal communications.

The Signal Corps first used a wigwag system of visual signaling developed by Albert James Myer, the first signal officer. In 1862 the corps began using the Beardslee magnetoelectric tactical telegraph machine. Following the Civil War the corps became responsible for army photography, established a pigeon service, and adapted to its uses the conventional electric telegraph; in subsequent decades it also incorporated the heliograph, telephone, radio, radar, and the communications satellite. From 1870 to 1891, the Signal Corps provided the United States with its first national weather service, which in 1891 became the Weather Bureau.

Beginning in 1962 a series of changes led to the elimination of the Signal Corps as a bureau. That year the Signal Corps lost responsibility for training, research and development, and procurement, and on 1 March 1964, the chief signal officer became the chief of communications-electronics (CC-E). The newly established U.S. Army Strategic Communications Command (USASTRATCOM) took over the corps command functions while the CC-E remained responsible for supervising staff. In 1973 USASTRATCOM became the U.S. Army Communications Command (USACC). On 16 September 1967 the CC-E became the assistant chief of staff for communications-electronics (ACSC-E), a position filled by a major general of the Signal Corps until elimination of the position in a major staff reorganization and transfer of functions in 1974.


History of the U.S. Signal Corps. New York: Putnam, 1961.

Raines, Rebecca Robbins. Getting the Message Through: A Branch History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Washington D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1996.

Paul J.Scheips/f. b.

See alsoArmy, United States ; Intelligence, Military and Strategic ; Radar .

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