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

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

14
Preparing for the Ultimate Test

The combination of Delafield as Superintendent and Smith as Commandant provided what DeRussy and Fowle had lacked: teamwork and leadership. Commissioned in the 2nd Artillery when he graduated in 1825, Smith had been on duty at West Point since 1829. He had taught cadets infantry tactics from 1829 to 1831 when Thayer had appointed him Adjutant; DeRussy retained him in this position. When Fowle was promoted and transferred, Smith became Commandant, undoubtedly with Delafield's concurrence. Perhaps better than any of his predecessors, Smith fully understood the interlocking relationships of the functions of the Superintendent, the Commandant, and the Academic Board. He had been an assistant to Worth and Hitchcock during their tours as Commandant, enabling him to observe and absorb the techniques and disciplinary principles used by Thayer's two outstanding assistants. His service as Adjutant to Thayer and DeRussy provided him with a firsthand comparison of two completely different men and their supervision of Academy operations. Smith probably possessed more knowledge of the Commandant's functions and duties than any Commandant before or since.

By contrast, Delafield, who had graduated at the head of his class in 1818, had never been stationed at West Point. All of his duty after graduation had been as a supervisory engineer. He had been Astronomical and Topographical Draftsman for the American Commission that determined the northern boundary of the United States in accordance with the Treaty of Ghent. What he had learned in drawing classes at the Academy benefitted him greatly during this tour of duty. His other assignments included construction, repairs, or surveys at Hampton Roads, Virginia; along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers; Fort Delaware south of Wilmington; and Fort Mifflin near Philadelphia. His engineering

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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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