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

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

21
The Corps and the Corps and the Corps

On March 16, 1902, the United States Military Academy entered its second century. The first fifty years of that century had been a struggle for the Academy and its graduates, a struggle to survive, a struggle to grow and mature, a struggle to overcome antagonistic governmental officials and an indifferent public. Not until the War with Mexico did the true value of the West Point education and training become apparent. Although the graduates who fought in that conflict did not have senior rank and did not command any major forces, their contribution was a major factor in the successes attained in the field. As Winfield Scott commented--in words since memorized by countless plebes--"I give it as my fixed opinion, that but for our graduated cadets, the war between the United States and Mexico might, and probably would have lasted some four or five years, with, in its first half, more defeats than victories falling to our share; whereas, in less than two campaigns, we conquered a great country and a peace, without the loss of a single battle or skirmish."

The gratitude of the nation enabled the Academy to progress further along the road so ably mapped by Sylvanus Thayer. During the next decade, West Point entered what has been termed its Golden Age. It was in the foremost ranks of scientific and engineering schools. Textbooks authored by its professors were used in most of the technical schools of the time. Graduates who had left the Army built railroads, headed colleges, mapped rivers and harbors, and supervised countless engineering projects throughout the country.

A dozen years after the Mexican War, the Academy faced its most bitter test in a war where brother fought brother and West Point classmates faced each other on the battlefield. Graduates led the armies of both sides; and, when the conflict neared its end, they showed compassion and understanding for their

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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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