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