William Murray Black

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William Murray Black
William Murray Black (December 8, 1855 – September 24, 1933) circa 1915.jpg
Major General William Murray Black, Chief of Engineers 1916–1919
Born (1855-12-08)December 8, 1855
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Died September 24, 1933(1933-09-24) (aged 77)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York
Allegiance United StatesUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1877–1919
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held Chief of Engineers
Awards Distinguished Service Medal

William Murray Black (December 8, 1855 – September 24, 1933) was career officer in the United States Army, noted for his ability to organize and train young engineers.


Black, born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, graduated first in the United States Military Academy class of 1877 and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. From 1886 to 1891 Black headed the Jacksonville District, and in 1897-98 he was the Engineer Commissioner on the governing board of the District of Columbia. In the Spanish–American War, he was Chief Engineer, 3d and 5th Army Corps. As Chief Engineer under Generals William Ludlow and Leonard Wood (1899–1901), and six years later as advisor to the Cuban Department of Public Works, he modernized Havana's sanitary system. As Commandant of the Army Engineer School (1901–03), Black moved it from the Fort at Willets Point, New York to Washington Barracks, D.C. After his return from Cuba in 1909, he was Northeast Division Engineer and chairman of a board to raise the battleship USS Maine. Devoted to training young engineer officers in the art of war, General Black's greatest responsibility came as Chief of Engineers during World War I in mobilizing and training some 300,000 engineer troops for a wide range of military engineering tasks. For this work he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.[1]

He retired October 31, 1919, and died in Washington, D.C. on September 24, 1933. He is buried at West Point Cemetery, Section C, Site 23.[2]


The USS General W. M. Black (AP-135), launched July 1943, was named in his honor. As was the dustpan dredge William M. Black. [3]


  1. ^ Davis, jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Raleigh, North Carolina: Pentland Press, Inc. ISBN 1-57197-088-6. 
  2. ^ William Murray Black at Find a Grave
  3. ^ http://www.encyclopediadubuque.org/index.php?title=WILLIAM_M._BLACK


  • Davis, jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Raleigh, North Carolina: Pentland Press, Inc. pp. 38–39. ISBN 1-57197-088-6. 

External links[edit]

This article contains public domain text from "Major General William Murray Black". Portraits and Profiles of Chief Engineers. Archived from the original on March 6, 2005. Retrieved August 26, 2005. 

Military offices
Preceded by
Dan Christie Kingman
Chief of Engineers
Succeeded by
Lansing Hoskins Beach