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West Point In Bygone Years

Great Days For Cadets - Closing of The Year At The Military Academy, Baltimore American - Jun 10, 1892


New York Times - Oct 15, 1893
Herman 3. Koehler has charge of the exercises for the past nine years. He is tha best and all-around athlete in the country. Mr. Koehler -was graduated from the ...

Two Sides of the Atlantic: Notes of an Anglo-American Newspaperman By Hamil Grant, 1917


Buck Privates to West Point - By Elmo Scott Watson

- Pentwater News - Aug 26, 1927

Duchesne County Newspapers 1928-01-27 West Points's 150 Years 

Millard County Progress 1928-01-20 West Point's 150 Years

Piute County 1928-01-27 West Point's 150 Years

West Point - All Right! -  By Elmo Scott Watson

- Providence County Times, Jun 28, 1929 (best copy)

West Point - All Right! -  By Elmo Scott Watson

- Carbon County News - Jul 4, 1929 (in May 30 link)

Piute County 1929-04-05 "Benny Havens, Oh!"
Times Independent 1929-04-04 "Benny Havens, Oh!"

Flag Day - Shrine of Flags on Display West Point - By Elmo Scott Watson

- The Pentwater News, Jun 10, 1932

Women at West Point - By Elmo Scott Watson
- The Pentwater News, Jul 28, 1933

West Point - Where They make "Officers and Gentlemen" - but, Most of
All, - MEN! - By Elmo Scott Watson
- The Pentwater News, May 18, 1934

The Virginia Military Institute - Stirring History as "West Point of the South" - By Elmo Scott Watson
- The Pueblo Indicator - Sep 9, 1939
- The Pentwater News, Sep 15, 1939

Iron County Record 1939-09-07 The Virginia Military Institute Looks Back over Its 100 Years of Stirring History as "West Point of the South"  

West Point Newburgh Evening News, Sep 13 1974

West Point - circa 1917 (by Hamil Grant, newspaperman)


ONE of the most frequent "try-outs," or tests of a newly-arrived journalist's descriptive capacity,favoured by New York editors, is an assignment to write up the United States Military Academy of West Point. In due course we visited the Post. More than once, in our earlier years, we played the Rugger game against Sandhurst, Woolwich and Cooper's Hill, and our recollections of these several academies are that they retained much of the colleges by Cam and Isis, in regard to the general atmosphere surrounding them, military discipline as a rule being hardly more in evidence than that which prevails at Haileybury, or other schools which cultivate in their pupils' mind a love for the British Army and a determination to follow the career of soldiering.
West Point is, however, a barrack pure and simple, and the discipline is obviously so much a prime consideration in the curriculum that a two-year man, or a three-year man, appears to develop, in our view, too many of the traits of an automaton to be altogether very easy company. His speech is either laconic or stilted ; his bearing

Well," explained his cicerone, " we invariably hear that complaint from Europeans and more particularly from French and British officers who have gone through their military training at Sandhurst and St Cyr. We have never yet heard a German, Italian, or Austrian military man complain.
In my time, the regulations as to seeing company at the Post were far more stringent, and it was nothing in the sixties and seventies for a too rigid, it seems to us, to warrant a full or athletic use of his undoubtedly handsome frame; and to a great extent he looks and acts more like a youth who is perforce, and not with the best of good-will, putting in a non-penal " stretch " in a monastery. Certainly there is nothing of the free-and-easy style which we are accustomed to think of in connection with American institutions, at West Point; and having seen the chief Prussian Military Cadet School, the discipline of which is (or was: we speak of over twenty years ago) far less rigorous than might be expected, the Ecole Polytechnique, Saint Cyr and Saint Maixent, we can conscientiously say that a West Pointer's life would not appear to be a happy one—if outward appearances count for anything. In a country where every newspaper special correspondent is permitted, ex officio, to pass an opinion without reference to the social, political, personal or peculiar sensibilities of the other man, the author made no scruple at all in drawing attention to what he thought to be the unduly ascetic aspect of the youthful West Pointer, and the quasi-monastic discipline which rules him:

cadet to go through his four years' apprenticeship at the Military Academy without having once visited home during that period, or having spoken with a woman in his own rank of life. Now-a-days the cadet is allowed a short vacation every two years, or under special circumstances, and with the exception of certain hotels at the Post, the locality is open to him, and he can meet his friends, men and women, or receive them at the Academy once a week. This helps to counteract our severe military stiffness, perhaps."
There is little doubt, too, that the vigorous esprit de corps which is developed in the West Point cadet overruns itself into something much stronger in the fulness of time, the truth being that towards hoi polloi, a cadet will comport himself, as a rule,throughout his subaltern years with all the airs and graces of superiority which we associate with the Prussian officer who is still in the minor stages of his hierarchic ascent. Even the democratic United States can show the germs of a militaristic caste, and the attitude of regular U.S. Army men towards the rest of the world, including Militia and National Guardsmen, is only to be paralleled with the exclusiveness of our own old-time Household Cavalry towards regiments of the Line.
In England, of yore, the Life Guard looked down on the Royal Horse Guard, and these twain united in looking down on the marching Grenadiers and other Foot Guardsmen. The Cavalry of the Line had an unholy contempt for the "shoppy" Artillery and Engineers, and these in turn held themselves far above ordinary Infantry. Even the


Heavy Cavalry looked down on the Medium Cavalry, which in its own good turn despised the Light Cavalry; and, again, in the Infantry the Light Corps—such as the Rifles—would have as little " truck " as possible with the commoner marching regiments. The Great War and the democratization of things in general may have the effect of altering all this; but there is no question that the conditions described once prevailed, and neither is there any doubt that the United States military officer feels himself to belong to a caste the ex-clusiveness of which bears no less marked a cachet than that which characterized the stamp of Vere de Vere. The cult undoubtedly begins at West Point, where it even seems, indeed, to be a first consideration in the curriculum.
With a long experience of many countries of the world, covering broad opportunities of observing closely, we have come to the conclusion that Canadians and United States Americans are, in the round average, the handsomest physical races in the world. Averages are, however, also exclusive, and though we have seen handsomer individual types in England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy
and Austria, we think that facially and physically, the two races of North America produce a far larger percentage of handsome men. And West Point is certainly true to American type. It is doubtful if in any country in the world, the all-round average for a high standard of good-looks and excellent physical development could be bettered in any academy or assembly of youthful


manhood we have ever had the advantage of seeing anywhere.
The Saint Cyrien may be a more graceful picture ; our R.M.C. Cadet more easy and supple in his movements and brighter of face and expression; the Prussian Cadet-Scholar more distinguished in dress and less stiff of carriage; but for a combination of all the qualities that go to make up a handsome presence, we shall certainly never seek farther than West Point. That in the " dress-parade " one could occasionally distinguish the homely Indian-faced and Mongol-faced types,so common to all American crowds — both in Canada and the States—did not, however, detract from the splendid average of presentability in the array of cadets.
Very few of the West Point aspirants now-a-days undergo the examination which at Oxford would correspond to " Smalls," or at Cambridge to the so-called " Little-Go," namely, a kind of minor matriculation which shows that men are competent by previous attainments to enter upon the academic curriculum. The majority of the candidates arrive at the Academy with all, and more than all, the requisite lights which allow them to start in at once on their very stiff course of studies—a course so stiff that some 25 per cent. of cadets fail to " pass out." And in this connection, English people will do well to disillusion themselves as to general standards of academic training in the States. The late Doctor Goldwin Smith once in Toronto assured the writer—then newly arrived in Canada—that classical, or aesthetic attain-


ment, both in Canada and the States, was " at the zero point," and without doubt this is so. Indeed any native North-American who has read a few books of Caesar, and a Gospel or two in Greek, is generally looked upon by the community in which he moves, and is invariably described by the local papers, as "a famous classical scholar."
It is generally overlooked, however, that Modernism is almost entirely the note of American education, and anyone who reads Emerson's American Scholar will readily find out that in respect of scholarship, the Americans have made a kind of academic declaration-of-independence, which, if it does not wholly taboo the Classics, at any rate prefers the study of English and the exact Sciences to the claims of the defunct glories of Greece and Rome. The result is that the high-school type of young American is really a better writer of English and an incomparably better scientist and mathematician, than his equivalent in the countries of the United Kingdom, the result making for a higher type of average practical scholarship in Canada and the States. Averages are, as we have said, exclusive, and one cannot measure the academic values of America by the lack of exact learning in, say, an American race-track reporter, or a Buffalo drummer, any more than one can take a gauge of English scholarship from a Double First-Class, or a Senior Classic. There is no illiteracy among native-born Americans of the past two generations, and even those who possess the humblest educational advantages are, without comparison, far better read and better informed


than the same class in England. The high-school youth, in his own turn, is for all practical purposes a better equipped citizen than the average product of English grammar schools, or so-called private schools. On the other hand, types of our Double First-Class, or Senior Classic, are rarely, if indeed ever, to be met with either in Canada or in the States, as native products.
The Cadets of West Point are "allowed" by their equivalent students at Harvard. Yale and Princeton to be in point of reading, much fuller men, in the Baconian sense. This admission is generally expressed in terms peculiar to the undergraduate of any of the above-mentioned
universities, who will tell you, as the case may be, that "Harvard has nothing on West Point."
West Pointers and indeed the United States, generally, make the claim that they are the first Military Academy in the world. However this may be, it is very certain that there is no academy of any kind in the world which places the science of Energetics on a higher altar, and to meet a man who has done his four years at West Point, is to meet a man who has been through one of the most trying curricula, whether academic or disciplinary, to be found in all Western education.

In regard to the academic curriculum, the first-year course is known as the Fourth Class, the members of which are known as Plebes, just as second-year students in American universities are known as Sophomores—a term which might be rendered as " foolish-wise," coming as it does from the Greek words sophos, wise, and moros, foolish.


On the authority of a West Point Cadet, the writer learned that the term Plebes used there is equivalent to the Greek hoi polloi, or common people (Plebs), and indicates the class from which certain chosen spirits must by the force of competition, eventually draw away; for it is not uncommon for a member of the Fourth Class to do his terms more than once over. As we have said, some never succeed in graduating, or " passing out," at all. In the Mathematical class of this year, the Cadet makes his first acquaintance with Trigonometry and Conic Sections. In Modern Languages, he confines his attention to English and French. His curriculum on the barrack square in the gymnasium to "setting up," or military deportment drill—as many as five times a day;
added to this, exercises in applied Tactics and route-marching, instruction in fencing with rapier and broadsword, also bayonet exercises. In this year he also begins his studies in " Service of Security and Information" — dealing with the safety of an army in the field against an enemy, and including the use of spies and counter-spies. In the second-year course, the Cadet who gets his promotion goes on to the Differential Calculus, takes Descriptive Geometry. In Languages, he tackles Spanish. Also Military Topography and
Drawing. To his curriculum in Drill, he adds riding-exercise and training in small-arms practice. He also takes a course of instruction in building of pontoon, spar and trestle-bridges, and in surveying.


Natural and Experimental Philosophy and Practical Astronomy, Mechanics, Chemistry, Mineralogy and Geology engage his mind's very full attention in the third-year course. Military Topography and Ordnance and Engineering Draughtsmanship. Further advanced courses of Drill, according to the Cadet's chosen service-arm. Also Riding-schools; Military Construction ; Signalling.
The Cadet's fourth year consists of courses in Civil and Military Engineering, the Science of War, Jurisprudence, International and Military Law, History, Geography; Applied Tactics, Route-marching, Horse Science and Ballistics. Foreign officers of Staff Colleges and University Professors of all countries and academic standing have confessed themselves surprised at the amount of work done by the Cadets of all the four years. So sternly, indeed, is economy of time insisted upon, from the very first hour when the Cadet arrives at the Military Academy, that a complete test of the born West Pointer may be said to be feasible in one month from his arrival. If he weathers the cast-iron coldness and positive un- sympathy of his surroundings during the first four weeks of his stay at the Academy, he is accepted as of the constructive stuff of which officers of the United States Army are made; and with three months' experience to his credit, wild horses could
not detach him from his military Alma Mater. To a large extent he is as responsible for the tidiness and order of his private quarters—which he shares with another Cadet—as an ordinary English Tommy


is answerable for the condition of his barrack-room, or a piou for his chambree.
At 6 a.m., reveille' finds him on his feet, when among his first duties is the rolling up of his mattress on the little iron bedstead, and the folding of blankets, sheets, coverlets and pillow. Boots, shoes, slippers, caps must be placed in order on their shelves, books and papers set to rights in their places, the floor swept, and all unworn garments properly hung. Less than fifteen minutes for this and toilet, and then the bugle sounds the Roll, which called, the Cadets march to the Mess Hall. Breakfast is over in about the half
hour; recreation follows for the next half hour and studies begin at eight o'clock—each class comprising sections of eight men so that the instructors may devote as much time as possible to each Cadet.
Recitations, as they are called, alternate with study until one o'clock. When the various curricula were drawn up in then- time, in each branch of knowledge the most searching examination was fixed upon to complete the successive courses, so that no smatterer should have any chance of just muddling through. " Pull," as the Americans call it, counts for less in the United States Army than in probably any other in the world, and each commissioned officer, who has won his way up from West Point, may without question be considered a complete master of his business. More so, even, than the so-called " contemptible little British Army " of our own ante-bellum days, the Regular Army of the United States may be termed one of the few professional armies of the world. It


follows, therefore, that it must, like our own Army,be of the very best stuff.
For lunch, with its following recreation, only one full hour is allowed at West Point, when
recitations start anew, and last till four o'clock, at which hour the various corps turn out for infantry practice. This exercise lasts about sixty minutes,when the Cadets—in fine weather—having arrayed themselves en grande tenue, go through what is known as the " Dress Parade," which ceremony corresponds approximately to those famous Castle-reviews with which the Hohenzollern chiefs were wont to regale themselves and their visitors, and at which the Prussian Guard passed under inspection —the only difference being that the West Point parade is more intricate in its movement, and out of sight less spectacular in regard to brilliancy of uniforms. With respect to the Prussian-Guards inspections, it may not be generally known that on the occasion of the coming of very distinguished visitors to Berlin, William II. was wont to indulge in his only extravagance, and that was in giving each Guardsman a stiff whisky, or brandy and soda, and each officer a pint of champagne before the corps appeared on parade, so as to prime them for a first-class showing.
For the West Point Cadets' Parade, which is really a most inspiring spectacle, in view of the splendid physique of the men, many hundreds frequently come from various parts of New York and New Jersey States, while a goodly portion of the population of the Post—as West Point township is called—is always present on the great square.


Supper, as it is termed, is held at 6.30, and at 7.30 the Cadets to a man, may be found again " smugging " for the next day's preparations. At 9.30 the bugle sounds the Last Post; at 10 o'clock Lights Out, or " Taps," is struck on the Guard-House drum, and silence reigns for the next eight hours. On Saturday nights alone, is there a relaxation of this rule, when the Cadets give their famous Hops —in the season of year—invitations being circulated to all their acquaintances in the neighbourhood, the invariably liberal response assuring a good company. On Sundays the Cadet may sleep until seven o'clock, and as in every other military institution the world over, there is on that day an inspection by the Commanding Officer before the midday meal.
As might be expected, religion is a forceful equation among the descendants of the Independence Fathers and the Mayflower Puritans. As in the British Army, a self-avowed atheist, or contemner of the Church, has no chance whatever of high promotion, and this is so well known that in rank and file, equally as much as among English commissioned officers, a pretence of being religious is often affected and solely with a view to promotion. This may not be, of course, a very edifying condition of affairs; nevertheless, the principle working at the root of the matter being in itself good—namely, the discipline exercised on men by religious practices, it must be allowed that the results
are altogether in favour of the Service. At West Point, although no such venality necessarily attaches to the Cadet's piety, there is no doubt that a proper


religious spirit and a gentleman's reverence for things spiritual is all in favour of the apprentice- officer—which is, indeed, as it should be. The Cadet Chapel is one of the principal monuments of the place, and the cicerone of an English visitor never fails especially to point out one among many tablets set up to the memory of departed soldiers, and which bears simply the date of an unnamed general's birth and death. The name has long since been erased: it was that of Benedict Arnold.
Among its many flags, are several British captured during the Independence War. In other respects, and with its long rows of benches, the edifice reminds one of the familiar chapel of one's schooldays. The majority of the Cadets belong to the Episcopalian denomination, which is the equivalent, in the United States, of the Anglican Church, or Evangelical Protestantism. Cadets of other denominations are allowed to attend their particular churches at the Post. ....

...The physical examination of the candidates for Cadetships is if possible harder than any intellectual test to which the Academy aspirant has to submit. He passes at his first examination through the scrutiny of some three or four medical experts, and if for any suspect cause a candidate is " queried," it will mean a special consultation on his particular case. Heredity is carefully enquired into, and the son of, say, a lunatic parent would possess not the slightest chance of successfully passing the medical tests, it being very properly held that the offspring of lunatics invariably reproduce part, if not all, of the mental defects of the unfortunate parent who transmits the diseased brain. We have said that from twenty-five to thirty per cent. of matriculated West Pointers fail to "pass out," as we say in England, or to graduate, as they put it in the United States. There is a far larger percentage of candidates for admission who fail to pass the medical examination, so severe is that ordeal. In one year within the past decade, not fewer than fifty-four per cent. of candidates were rejected,


some of the ailments of these youths being, seemingly, as ridiculous to the uninitiated as, let us say, the peculiar malady which goes by the name of house-maid's knee. And this, too, despite the fact that they had been certified "fit" by their family physicians.
The West Point Cadet is paid during his academic training a sum of 540 dollars, or about £112 per annum, a sum which he is not supposed to supplement by loans drawn on the family exchequer, by borrowing from friends, or even by the acceptance of presents of the smallest kind.
The official sum allowed is found, in any case, to be adequate for all the Cadet's requirements during the academical year. He is obliged to pay deposit money before arrival, equal to 100 dollars, or £20, which goes to provide his uniform. When in due course he becomes a second lieutenant—pronounced not lef-tenant, but loo-tenant — he receives pay beginning at the rate of 1400 dollars yearly, or about £280, in the Infantry, and £20 more in the Cavalry—a sum which compares very favourably with the English subaltern's £120 in a marching regiment, or £150 in the Cavalry. Besides this, the American officer receives quarters or allowance therefor, as well as for certain articles of
furniture. As a first lieutenant, he receives £300 —Infantry, and £320—Cavalry. An Infantry captain's pay amounts to £360 annually ; a Cavalry captain's to £400; a major of Cavalry receives £500, a lieutenant-colonel £600, a full colonel £700. A retired Cavalry captain, after twenty years' service receives a trifle over £400 yearly


pension, including certain ten per cent. allowances for every five years' service, known as "fogeys"; a major receives on the same principles retired pay amounting to £500 a year; a lieutenant-colonel £600, and a full colonel about £680—all after twenty years' service. A second lieutenant of Infantry after twenty years' service receives retired pay at the rate of £315 yearly, and a captain £375. Compared with our retired lieut.-colonel's pay, equal to about £400 a year, with a gratuity of perhaps £1250 for twenty-five years' service, the American officer's pay is decidedly in handsome contrast. The pay of the U.S. army's private soldier begins at the rate of £2, 13s. 2d., paid monthly, and long before he has finished his five years of service he will be drawing £3, 3s. monthly, with other " conduct"
pay. Should he re-enlist, his pay will be at the rate of nearly £l a week, which with the best rations and lodgings provided by any army in the world, puts him at the head of all paid professional private soldiers. Should he care to save, and he is encouraged
to do so, the U.S. Government pays him at the rate of 4 per cent. on deposits. He can take a yearly furlough of three weeks, with rations allowance, besides ordinary full pay, amounting to seven shillings a day. He can serve for twenty-eight or thirty years, and be certain of a life-pension of four shillings a day. With such comparative advantages and inducements offered to the possible loafer, or to the family remittance-man or to the common enough parasite who, incapable of earning an honest living off his own bat, is reduced to


finding some trimmer of hats or needle-woman, or worse, to support him, it is nevertheless extremely difficult to enter the United States Army. Of that institution, the late Lord Wolseley once declared that it was the best in the world, and among authoritative army-men the old Field- Marshal's judgments stood very high. In point of physical development and presence, we have never, it must be frankly admitted, seen anything to equal that of the majority of the U.S. Army regiments, and so good a judge of military matters as the late
Mr George Warrington Steevens, who had seen the world's armies, expressed this view in his correspondence to his London paper in 1898. German officers arriving in New York have often been heard to declare, entre eux, that Germany could conquer the United States with the Potsdam fire-brigade, as the formula used to go. We have met more than one, however, who was man enough to revise his opinion when he saw a few divisions at work on the occasion of a national festival. Noteworthy, too, the difficulty in enlisting in the United States Army is due, in the first place, to the high moral standard insisted upon in the recruits, while the next test is the physical standard.
It is an attested fact in regard to the Regular U.S. Army that for every ten men who offer their services, only five are successful in passing in, and out of the rejected five three—or thirty per cent. of the candidates—were disqualified because they could not produce sufficiently good attestations of character. It is writ rubric in the military regulations that " if satisfactory evidence of good


character, habits and conditions cannot be furnished by the recruits, or be otherwise obtained, the presumption shall be against the candidate and he shall not be accepted."...

...In one sense, says an excellent Canadian observer, America may be said truly to have the best army in the world; for, not in America can the private of the Regular Army be made the butt of scornful jests, or the fact of his enlistment be accepted as privia facie evidence of his having failed in life. The legal requirements which must be observed before he can enlist, and the physical examination which he must pass, render it certain that his acceptance is a guarantee of worth.