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

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

9
Members of One Brotherhood

Newly appointed cadets now reported to West Point by the end of June instead of in September. After examination by the Academic Board and Thayer, those who passed the tests were accepted. Despite the very lenient examinations-- essentially only an assurance that the young men were able to read, write, and do basic arithmetic problems--the number of candidates who failed was shocking. Few appointees from small communities or farms had any formal schooling. Sons of prominent men and young men from large cities had attended school as an accepted routine. Consequently, the Corps had far more cadets from "good families" than from poorer homes or rural districts.

To Thayer this was wrong. He sincerely believed that the Academy should reflect a cross-section of the American public. He realized that an entrance examination was necessary, and he believed that the examinations being given were not adequate because many cadets who passed were not able to absorb Academy instruction. He knew this could be corrected only by teaching fundamentals to a potential cadet.

Beginning in 1822, new cadets were required to report by the second week in June. For two weeks, they were taught subjects covered in the July examination. Most of the instruction was given by cadets or young officers, new graduates awaiting assignment orders. Church remembered that instruction consisted of four hours of arithmetic daily, two hours of basic drill, and one hour of reading and writing.

Examinations, recalled Church, were simple. Appointees were asked only two or three mathematics questions. "We were required to read and write in the presence of the Academic Board," said Church, "with more time given to reading than to writing." The results achieved Thayer's objective. As Church reported,

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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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