Chiefs of Signal
Brigadier General Adolphus W. Greely
1887 - 1907
Adolphus Washington Greely brought the Signal Corps into the age of modern technology. During his tenure as Chief Signal Officer (1887-1906), Greely introduced the radio, automobile, and the airplane into military use.
He wrote in his memoirs that his most important peacetime act was spending $50,000 in 1898, to convince Samuel P. Langley to produce a flying machine for the military. Although Langley was unsuccessful, his work encouraged the Wright brothers whose invention the Corps purchased in 1908.
Politically astute as well as an efficient administrator, Greely was instrumental in the survival of the Signal Corps in an era when Congress almost abolished it. Under Greely's command, the Corps strengthened its organizational structure and adapted the technology of the 19th century.
Greely's contributions to the Signal Corps were numerous. Among them were arctic exploration and overseeing the construction of thousands of miles of telegraph lines in the American southwest. But, most of all Greely's vision and courage made the Signal Corps an efficient, scientific arm of the United States Army.