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