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

By George S. Pappas | Go to book overview

16
The Ante-Bellum Army

As the Military Academy entered its second half-century, the Regular Army was undergoing many changes. Despite its outstanding accomplishments during the Mexican War, Congress in 1848 reduced its wartime strength from approximately 31,000 men and officers to 10,317, over 2,000 less than its authorized strength ten years earlier. This minuscule force was tasked with a multi-faceted mission. Coastal fortifications had to be manned and improved. Frontier posts had to be garrisoned. New attention was drawn to the immense lands west of the Mississippi when gold was discovered in California in 1849. The Army now had to provide protection for settlers moving westward as well as surveying and mapping routes across the plains and mountains.

Many civil engineering projects--roads, bridges, canals, and river and harbor improvements--were made under Army supervision. Although other educational institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Rensselaer, and Norwich began to offer engineering degrees in the 1830s, Academy-trained officers still set an example for their civilian contemporaries.

The Regular Army of this period had an unwieldy and somewhat inefficient organization. Morrison in his history of the Military Academy from 1833 to 1866 divides the Army into three groups: the scientific or technical services consisting of the Corps of Engineers, the Topographical Engineers, and the Ordnance Corps. What would today be considered the general staff included the Adjutant General, Inspector General, Subsistence, Quartermaster, Medical, Pay, and Judge Advocate General Departments. The third group consisted of combat units of artillery, infantry, dragoons, cavalry, and mounted riflemen.

The Corps of Engineers was considered the elite organization of the Army. Until 1846, the Corps included only officers, all of whom had graduated high

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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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