All Institutions Are Imperfect and Subject to the Law of Change
Graduation is always exciting and impressive at the Military Academy. It was more so on June 23, 1865. More than one cadet firebrand regretted the end of the war, for that meant he would not see combat; fighting Indians was not considered to be civilized warfare. When the traditional graduation ceremony in front of the Chapel began, Superintendent George Cullum called the first man in the Class forward and announced, "Charles Walker Raymond, you are commissioned a first lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers." Applause came from the Corps and other spectators. Cullum continued, "Lewis Cooper Overman, you are commissioned a first lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers." More applause. The first nine men were all assigned as Engineer first lieutenants, not uncommon during the war years. The next four graduates were commissioned second lieutenants of Artillery. But the fifteenth graduate, John K. Heslep, was assigned to the 7th Infantry as a second lieutenant and was immediately promoted to first lieutenant. When Cullum announced his promotion after handing him his diploma, a roar came from the Corps; this was most unusual. This continued; man after man was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry and then immediately promoted to first lieutenant. Only the six Artillery and nine Cavalry assignees were not promoted. The lowly infantrymen, the graduates ranking lowest in the class academically, all ranked the elite artillerymen who ranked next to the engineers in graduation order.
What caused this unusual situation? There were two factors. The wartime army was rapidly disbanding, and regular units were being reconstituted. During the war, the number of regular Infantry regiments had been increased from ten to nineteen. The number of Artillery regiments, five, and Cavalry regiments, six, remained unchanged. In the Corps of Engineers, which had no regiments,