To the Point: The United States Military Academy, 1802-1902

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

Preface

Many friends have asked me why I decided to prepare a new history of the Military Academy when so many have already been published by both graduates and historians. There were two reasons for my decision. First, while working on my book about the Cadet Chapel, I noted that a recent history written by an eminent historian included many errors of fact and perpetuated unfounded myths about West Point. To satisfy my own curiosity, I began looking at older histories to determine where some of these legends had originated. I was amazed and appalled to find that some resulted from authors' deliberately withholding information or changing facts to attain a predetermined objective. Countless cadets and graduates perpetuated unfounded myths and even rumors, passing such stories on from generation to generation. Both the inaccurate accounts of early authors and institutional legends often have been accepted by later historians and writers who failed to ascertain the veracity of these statements. Many of these inaccuracies are pointed out in this work. This led to my determination to research every available source to produce a history of the Academy based upon facts and actual occurrences, not on legend, cadet "sinkoids," or hearsay.

My second reason was the early discovery of new materials not previously available to or not used by other historians. Perhaps the best example of such materials are the Henry Burbeck papers, given to the USMA Library in 1987. These papers provided the first definitive information about the pre-1802 West Point academy of the Corps of Artillerists and Engineers. Regimental, battalion, and artillery company muster rolls provided additional information. The data from these sources was supplemented by material found in Quartermaster waste books, Court Martial records, pay vouchers, medical returns, and other similar

-xvii-

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To the Point: The United States Military Academy, 1802-1902
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • 1775-1802 1
  • 1 - The Foundation is Laid 3
  • 1802-1817 23
  • 2 - Struggle for Survival 25
  • 3 - Existence in Name Only 45
  • 4 - Right Man at the Right Time? 61
  • 5 - Deliver Your Sword to the Bearer 75
  • 1817-1828 97
  • 6 - The Rebuilding Begins 99
  • 7 - Governed by the Rules and Articles of War 119
  • 8 - Still in a State of Progressive Development 129
  • 9 - Members of One Brotherhood 149
  • 1829-1833 183
  • II - I Have the Honor to Tender My Resignation 185
  • 12 - I Believe It the Best School in the World 205
  • 1833-1852 219
  • 13 - A Firm Hand is Needed 221
  • 14 - Preparing for the Ultimate Test 239
  • 15 - We Follow, Close Order, Behind You 261
  • 1852-1865 279
  • 16 - The Ante-Bellum Army 281
  • 17 - When Shall We Meet Again? 287
  • 18 - Adhere to Your Purpose 323
  • 1865-1902 351
  • 19 - All Institutions Are Imperfect and Subject to the Law of Change 353
  • 20 - Guard Well Your Heritage 387
  • 1902 417
  • 21 - The Corps and the Corps and the Corps 419
  • Appendix A Superintendents, U.S. Military Academy 423
  • Appendix B Commandants of Cadets 427
  • Appendix C Deans of the Academic Board 431
  • Appendix D The 1780 Map of West Point: An Unintentional Historical Hoax 433
  • Appendix E Comments on Sources 437
  • Bibliography 447
  • Index 467
  • About the Author *
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