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

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

15
We Follow, Close Order, Behind You

News from Mexico was of more interest to cadets than the arrival of the new Superintendent. Zachary Taylor's victories over Mexican forces with a force composed primarily of Regulars brought excitement and cheers, which ceased abruptly when casualty lists appeared. Rankin Dilworth, Class of 1845, died of wounds received at Monterey where his classmate, James S. Woods, was killed storming enemy entrenchments. Only eight months after leaving the Academy, Francis T. Bryan, 1846, was wounded at the battle of Buena Vista. Several members of the Class of 1846 accompanied Kearny's column on its march from Fort Leavenworth to California and others were with Taylor. The majority of the Class, thirty-seven men, joined Winfield Scott's invasion of Mexico and his subsequent advance to Mexico City. Casualty lists from Scott's headquarters saddened the West Point family for many of the Class of 1846 were included. Twenty percent of the Class were wounded. Other classes also had heavy casualties. Of the 714 graduates in service, 48 were killed in battle or died of wounds, a percentage of battle deaths nearly 3 times the percentage of losses for other Regulars and over 7 times greater than the percentage losses of volunteer and militia units. As Cadet Thomas J. Haines wrote to a family friend, they had "seen and felt the elephant," a phrase that became prevalent during the Civil War to indicate that an individual had been in battle.

Other word about graduates was more exciting. Many received brevet promotions, the only way to recognize outstanding service because decorations were not authorized until many years later. Thomas J. Jackson, the awkward cadet who kept to himself, was promoted to permanent first lieutenant, an unusual recognition. He also received brevet promotions to captain and major. The Class of 1846 earned fifty-one brevets. George McClellan earned three pro-

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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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