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

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

12
I Believe It the Best School in the World

Thayer's resignation was handed to the Secretary of War at an inopportune time. Cass and his small staff were struggling to handle the dangerous problem of troop assignments in the South during the South Carolina crisis, a step required by the President's public statement that he would use force if necessary to stop the nullification attempt. There were also other problems, including the settlement of pension claims and preparing to submit Indian treaties to Congress. He took no immediate action on Thayer's resignation, merely telling General Gratiot to tell Thayer that it would be acted on at the proper time. That he was surprised and, to a certain degree, shocked is evident, for he also told Gratiot that he could not understand the resignation, which assumed that "an officer possesses the right to decline a service which constitutes an integral part of his legitimate duties." This statement is puzzling because Cass routinely processed requests for reassignment by other officers. Nearly two months passed before Cass informed Gratiot that Thayer's resignation would become effective after the June examinations.

Ten days before he was notified that his resignation was accepted, Thayer was promoted to brevet colonel. The War Department issued other orders affecting the Academy. General Order 48 reduced graduation leave from four to three months, a specification that remained in effect during peacetime for many years. The same order required an officer to serve at least three years with his regiment before being assigned to special duty. This had a direct impact on the Academy because it was customary to assign distinguished graduates as instructors immediately after graduation. This same restriction applied to the War Department staff and other staffs as well, but the West Point faculty interpreted this to be another Jackson attack on the Academy.

-205-

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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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