Chiefs of Signal
Brigadier General William B. Hazen
1880 - 1887
In 1870, the Signal Corps founder, Albert J. Myer, committed the Signal Corps to operate a weather service for the United States. However, it was his successor, BG William B. Hazen, who excited the entire country by sending two Signal Corps teams to participate in an international polar project that would greatly increase the scientific knowledge about an unknown part of the world
Hazen, a Civil War hero, faced formidable obstacles as he led the Corps through the decade following Myer's death. While the one expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska was carried out flawlessly, the other to Lady Franklin Bay near Greenland resulted in great tragedy. Nineteen of its twenty-five members died after bungled rescue attempts. Many blamed Hazen for the tragedy. In addition, Congress dealt the Corps an almost mortal blow in 1885, when it closed the Signal School at Fort Myer and turned over military signal instruction to individual branches of the service.
When Hazen died on 16 January 1887, the Corps had severe problems. It would be the job of Captain Adolphus W. Greely, nominated on 16 February 1887, as the new Chief Signal Officer, to bring the Signal Corps to prominence.