Remembering America’s first chief engineer

On this date in 1710, Richard Gridley was born in Boston. Though a relative unknown compared to some heroes of the American Revolution, Gridley in his time was widely regarded as one of the most distinguished military characters of his era.

He was renowned for personal bravery and considered a contemporary of George Washington, Israel Putnam and Henry Knox.

Gridley was a military engineer during the French and Indian Wars, from the reduction of Fortress Louisbourg in 1745 to the fall of Quebec 14 years later.

For his services he was awarded a commission in the British Army, a grant of the Magdalen Islands, 3,000 acres in land in New Hampshire and a life annuity.

When the American Revolution began in 1775, Gridley sided with the Thirteen Colonies and was made chief engineer in the New England Provincial Army. He laid out the defenses on Breed’s Hill and was wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill, at age 64.

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