714th Transportation Battalion - history

714th Transportation Battalion

The 714th Transportation Battalion (Railway Operations) (Steam and Diesel Electric) was constituted on 18 October 1927 and was originally known as the 56th Engineering Battalion (Railway). From then until the outbreak of World War II it existed only on paper. Although it was disbanded on 14 November 1940, it was reconstructed as the 56th Engineering Battalion (Railway Operating) because the entry of the United States into World War II was eminent. On 21 February 1941, it was redesignated as the 714th Engineer Battalion (Railway Operating). Then on 1 April 1942, it is again redesignated the 714th Engineer Railway Operating Battalion (ROB). Finally on 31 October 1942, the 714th ROB was activated at the Engineer Unit Training Center at Camp Clairborne, Louisiana. The skill of running a railroad battalion was not something that the US Army could train men to do overnight. Railroading required years of experience. Therefore, the US Army had an agreement with civilian railroad companies that in event of war they would sponsor railroad battalions. They would provide key personnel and training for the organization.

The Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway sponsored the formation of the 714th ROB and the recruiting took place primarily in St Paul, Minnesota. However, when the recruiting was completed, the men came from far and wide across the country. Since railway battalions were part of the Engineer Corps, the majority of the officers of the 714th were Engineer Reserve officers. The Engineer Center was not as improved as the rest of the camp so the men accustomed themselves to the rugged life. They first lived pyramid tents with dirt floors then moved into tar-paper shacks. Because of the preponderance of mutton on the menu, the men of the battalion took to calling their new home, “Goat Hill.” They later moved over to the main camp and replaced the 759th ROB on the Camp Clairborne-Polk Railroad. Read on