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

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

3
Existence in Name Only

When he arrived at West Point, Williams found Captain Barron, Masson, two other officers, and twenty-four cadets. Lieutenant Alexander Macomb served as adjutant and instructor of tactics. Additional cadets were appointed in May and December. One, Alden Partridge, was to have great impact upon the Military Academy.

The first task facing Williams was to establish a more suitable curriculum. He assigned Barron to teach mathematics and Masson to teach French and drawing. With Mansfield gone and no other qualified instructor available, natural and experimental philosophy was dropped. Macomb would conduct infantry drill and artillery instruction, assisted by Artillery officers of the garrison. The schedule called for infantry drill from 5:00 to 6:00 A.M.; mathematics from 8:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M.; French and drawing on alternate days from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.; study from 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.; and artillery drill, practical gunnery, surveying, or the study of fortifications after 4:00 P.M. This was essentially the schedule instituted by Major Wadsworth the year before.

There were other problems. Williams wanted to increase the holdings of the library but found little money available. Congress in 1803 had provided $2,000 for "purchasing maps, plans, books and instruments for the department of war and the military academy." This amount was halved in 1804 and reduced to $500 for 1805.

Williams was appalled at the appearance of the cadets. Their uniforms were a mixture resembling those seen at a costume ball. In 1802, cadets had worn the uniform of the Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers; in 1803, the uniform of the Corps of Engineers or the Corps of Artillerists. He now found that some cadets wore uniforms they had purchased before reporting. There were militia

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