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We are back with Season 3 of our podcast. This is the first episode of a two-part interview with Professor Christopher S. Stowe, Ph.D., Professor of Military History and War Studies Department Head, Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University. We talk about the start of the United States Army Corps of Engineers and their involvement in the American Civil War, as well as the Topogs, cartography, and even into Chaos Theory!

Professor Stowe is the author of numerous publications and has been a featured speaker on C-SPAN and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. He is a member of the Society for Military History and the Society of Civil War Historians. He was awarded the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Civilian Service in 2011 and the Department of the Army Superior Civilian Service Award in 2014.

Correction: In the interview Professor Stowe credited a quote from Bierce, but for posterity wishes to note the quote was actually from Napoleon. Professor Stowe regrets the error.

The quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte is: "History is a set of lies agreed upon." 

The quote by Ambrose Bierce is: "History is an account, mostly false, or events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools."

Note: The views contained within the podcast cast belong to Professor Stowe only and do not represent those of the USMC, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. 

Please see the following links for the excellent book references provided by Professor Stowe:

Engineering Victory: How Technology Won the Civil War, by Thomas F. Army Jr.

A Scientific Way of War: Antebellum Military Science, West Point, and the Origins of American Military Thought (Studies in War, Society, and the Military) by Ian C. Hope (Author)

The Best School in the World: West Point, the Pre-Civil War Years, 1833-1866, by James L. Morrison

An American Profession of Arms: The Army Officer Corps, 1784-1861, by William B. Skelton

The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past, by John Lewis Gaddis

Other Links and Information:

The Society of Civil War Historians

Probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn, this map by Charles Joseph Minard tells the story Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812.

Music and sounds for this episode were recorded live at the Civil War Reenactment at the 24th annual Civil War Days Living History Event by the Huntington Beach Historical Society.


Be sure to send questions for "Ask an Engineer"  segments to

This podcast series explores the evolution of a career in engineering, the overlap of art & engineering, and also promotes engineering outreach and STEM / STEAM in schools. You can visit us online at and

Key Words: engineering, art, Army Corps, USACE, Chaos Theory, Topogs, Civil War

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