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

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

8
Still in a State of Progressive Development

The June 1820 examinations showed the results of Thayer's efforts to transform the curriculum into an orderly, comprehensive course of study designed to develop officers with a technical background. Thirty First Classmen were qualified for graduation. Eleven had entered the Academy in 1814, eight in 1815, and nine in 1816. Their departure left only three cadets who had served under Partridge.

The Board of Visitors, which included retired General Joseph Swift, the first Academy graduate, did not restrict its report to comments on the examinations. The Board inspected all phases of Academy operations. After the tempestuous Ragland affair, it is not surprising that its primary interest was discipline and the method used to instill and continue that discipline. The Board recommended that the Superintendent be relieved of "the tedious duty of adjudging crimes and awarding punishment" and that instead "a court of council be authorized to assemble for the trial of all such delinquents whose cases might involve their dismissal or permanent disgrace." Many years later a similar concept was adopted. Boards of tactical officers were established to investigate serious violations of regulations and award punishments, subject to approval of the Commandant and the Superintendent. The Battalion "Batt Board" of pre-World War II cadets and the Regimental Board of the 1950s were tribunals of this type.

The Board of Visitors pointed out that there were differences between the regulations published by the War Department and those actually used at the Academy. "It is evident," the Board reported, "upon an inspection of the former that many of them must have of necessity become inapplicable from the changes that the institution has undergone." It recommended that the regulations be clarified and each cadet given a copy.

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