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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1867

Vol. III

(Born N. Y.)

William Jamesº Roe

(Ap'd N. Y.)


Born Newburgh, NY.​a

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1863, to June 17, 1867, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., 5th Artillery, June 17, 1867.

Served on leave of absence, June 17, 1867, to Mar. 29, 1869.

Resigned, Mar. 29, 1869.

Civil History. — President of the "Hydrogen Company of New York," 1882, to –––––.

Vol. IV
[Supplement, Vol. IV: 1890‑1900]

Civil History. — Author of various psychological romances: Bellona's Husband, The Last Tenet, Inquirendo Island, etc. over pen name "Hudor Genone;" of articles scientific, philosophic, or purely literary, to magazines and the press generally, too numerous and over too many signatures to quote. — Author of various semi-military stories: Cut: a Story of West Point,​b White Feathers, Royal Americans, Scarlet Gods, etc. — Warden of the N. Y. County jail (Ludlow St.) from Nov., 1895 to May, 1897. — Post-office address, Newburgh, N. Y.

Vol. V
[Supplement, Vol. V: 1900‑1910]

Civil History. — Illustrator in half-tone and pen-and‑ink for many publishing houses and periodicals. — Residence, Newburgh, N. Y.

Vol. VI
[Supplement, Vol. VI: 1910‑1920]

(Born Sept. 1, 1843.)

Military History. —

Second Lieut., 5th Artillery, June 17, 1867.

Resigned, March 29, 1869.

Civil History. — Resided at Newburgh, N. Y. Author of Story of the Sky (Scientific serial), Presbyterian Pub. Co.; The Divine Man (serial), Metaphysical Magazine; Fiat Morals (serial), Mind; Pamphlets reprinted from Popular Science and Scientific Monthly: Waterway Defenses of the Atlantic Coast; Europe's Dynastic Slaughter-House; Defending America; New York's Ten Thousand; Inn for Journeying Thoughts (verses); Following the Master (serial), in Presbyterian; many verses in N. Y. Times, Christian Advocate, Christian Intelligencer, Episcopal Recorder, Presbyterian, Toronto Globe and Quebec Herald.

Vol. VII
[Supplement, Vol. VII: 1920‑1930]

Military History. —

Second Lieutenant, 5th Artillery, June 17, 1867.

Resigned, March 29, 1869.

Died, Apr. 3, 1921, at New Windsor, Newburgh, N. Y.: Aged 77.

Portrait and obituary in Annual Report, Association of Graduates, for 1922.

Thayer's Notes:

a Lt. Roe's birthplace is from his AOG obituary.

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b I haven't read Cut, but the following review will give a good idea of the story, and probably of its lack of literary merit — but also of the utter cluelessness of the reviewer in West Point matters. The review first, from The Critic, Vol. 9, July 3, 1886, p52:

When an author has written so excellent a story as 'White Feathers,' and so poor a one as 'A Model Wife,' his third attempt will be looked for with interest. 'Cut: A Story of West Point' must have some foundation in fact, or possibility, we suppose; though the revelation of such a state of things there before the War implies a singular lack of the subordination to superiors which is the first essential in military life. The Colonel in command is, indeed, introduced once with some effect; but as a rule the Cadets, according to the story, were, to all intents and purposes, 'running' West Point. It will certainly be a revelation to many readers that two members of a class could, on false charges, be dismissed from it by the Cadets themselves, in the most ignominious manner possible and with instructions never to return, without even an exclamation of surprise from the authorities. When one of them returns and demands an investigation, his 'audacity' in demanding, and that of the commanding Colonel in allowing, an investigation, are considered by the Cadets an insult to their precious selves unparalleled in the history of West Point. The boyish stupidity of the whole affair is ridiculous. All of us remember strange scenes at West Point among the Cadets; but it is hard to believe that such events as these could have happened; and, as fiction, the story is certainly very poor. It is well enough to illustrate the boyhood absurdity of the self-important, consequential airs of class-feeling, and to show the bitter suffering of one unjustly the victim of it; but to suppose such an affair as this to be carried out successfully for a year or two by a whole class, on such slight reason, seems an insult to the commonsense of the young men who frequent West Point. The plot increases in interest as it develops, and the youthful idiots of the story who had been 'running' West Point take to 'running' the country during the War, and developing some latent commonsense as they grow older; but, as a whole, the story is remarkably thin. That a class so extremely sensitive on the subject of honor should not have found out the cad who was the real offender till he confessed many years afterward, is hardly to be ascribed even to the pig-headedness of the most self-complacent youth.

Now it does admittedly seem peculiar that an entire Class at the Academy should attach guilt and its consequences to an innocent party and only discover the true culprit many years later when he confesses: but this exact thing did happen, to one of the author's classmates. The tale "hardly to be ascribed" to the most pig-headed and self-complacent youths is in fact all too sadly true. It is drawn from life, and told in the obituary of Orsemus Boyd; Roe was a classmate of Boyd's, and Roe's novel was published in the year of Boyd's death.

As for the cadets half running the show themselves, that too, allowing for a touch of novelistic exaggeration, was true to life for a brief space of time, although just after the War between the States rather than before: see the comments by a member of the Class of 1866 on the lax discipline at the Point at that time.

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Page updated: 4 May 14