In December 26, 1862, J. F. Gilmer, the chief of engineers, suggested forming a full regiment of engineers to be assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia. On May 23, 1863, the Adjucant and Inspector General's Office issued General Order No. 66 which called for one company of engineers to be drawn from every division in the army. These companies were to be organized into regiments of ten companies each. As a result, the 1st Engineers Regiment was organized and had begun work at an instruction camp in Richmond by that autumn. The regiment joined Lee's Army at the end of April 1864. It could have been ready for action sooner, but Lee wanted it split up and assigned to various divisions, and insisted that its ranks be largely with conscripts not volunteers. The Secretary of War overruled Lee, and ordered that it stay intact as a regiment. Its personnel, however, consisted of men who volunteered to join the regiment while they were still at conscript camps of instruction, rather than troops transferred from, line units.