A nineteenth-century military engineer, General Joseph Totten designed coastal defenses, oversaw harbor improvements, led the construction of several forts, and served as siege engineer at the battle of Veracruz during the Mexican-American war. He was the Army’s chief engineer from 1838 to his death in 1864. Totten also performed ordinance experiments on the shape and weight of guns and ammunition and on concrete and steel fortifications. Totten was active during the War of 1812 (where he saw combat), the Mexican-American War, and the U.S. Civil War. He was a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences.