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Chapter 8

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
West Point

by
Elizabeth D. J. Waugh

published by
The Macmillan Company,
New York, 1944

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 10
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p110 Chapter IX
Brothers at War

Nowhere in the world was military science more expertly taught than at West Point in 1860. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Mahan and others had gathered the knowledge of Europe and brought it back to the Highlands of the Hudson. The esprit de corps at West Point needed no foreign influence; it stemmed then as it has always stemmed, from the Revolutionary heroes who founded the post. No line in the world was smarter than the thin gray one which paraded the plain.

Mahan, who adds his own peculiar military genius to his erudition, had written the authoritative texts on the art of war; yet he was but one member of a distinguished academic and military staff. Bartlett was the author of works on mechanics, and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Church on mathematics;a French, in spite of some opposition from overmilitary minds, had established a course in English which was advanced for the period. In geology Kendrick was a worthy successor to the distinguished Baily, who had done so much purely original work in this field. Robert Weir was far more than an able professor of drawing; he was an artist. Major Delafield, amiable and rotund, commanded an academy and a post which ran with smooth precision. "The Mill That Thayer Built" was grinding fine and running smoothly. Perhaps the stern militarism of Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Commandant Reynolds insured this smoothness.

Adding luster to the general scene was Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, the ideal soldier, who — though now a veteran of fourscore years and ten and about as many battles — still p111stood proudly tall, a stiff spine supporting his six feet six inches in perfect erectness while his blue eyes flashed as they had done long before in Mexico. He was commander in chiefº of the United States Army and was quartered at West Point.

Cadet life was already set in a pattern which, except for a few quaint details, seems strangely to resemble cadet life in 1943, before another war.b Among the quaint and now obsolete details was a barrage of buttons fired at quaking newcomers. Hazing was in full flower, fagging was practiced, and camp beds fell down with a peal like thunder. Yet other details sound strangely familiar.

One of the plebsº of 1858 had brought with him from his rural home in Maine a vast double-cased silver watch, while calculated to make a skintight uniform bulge in an unbecoming place. Cadet Custer and his friends pursued this plebe with a seemingly deep interest in his watch. Could they listen to it tick? The deaf could easily hear its strong voice. Could they look inside at the machinery? It resembled the boiler room of a river boat. Would he wind it for them and tell, once more, the story of the man who had last repaired it? And how did he dare to risk his life in the city of New York with such a possession? They insisted on accompanying him daily to the sun dial in the Area, threatening him that if he did not succeed in getting it to run accurately with the dial they would report him for "Carrying a time-piece that discredited the official time and therefore reflected on them as officers in the Army!"

There was at that time an almost artificial regard for honor which was a survival of the Napoleonic wars. As a rule this did little harm and added a certain spice to the very young officer's manner, but at times it led to almost tragic results. A cadet from Massachusetts took, by mistake, a pair of shoes belonging to a Southerner to the bootblack for repairing. The hotheaded Southerner accused the Yankee of trying to steal p112them. It was proved, of course, that he had had no such intention. There the matter might have ended, after a fight in the approved manner, but the Massachusetts man was not angry! Thereupon almost every classmate cut him dead. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Cadet Schaff, afterward General Schaff, bravely walked with the outcast; and when, during the Civil War, the Massachusetts officer was brevetted for gallantry in the Shenandoah Valley and was fatally wounded while charging at the head of his squadron, General Schaff had reason to be satisfied with his conduct.

"Beasts" were then known as "animals" — consigning plebes, in any case, to the fitting category. The first march to mess already presented the usual bizarre effect. No matter with what care and anxious thought the plebe had selected his civilian attire, at West Point it was sure to look as out of place as dirty peacock feathers. Each man, trying painfully to point his toes out and with eyes glued to the collar of the youth in front, stumbled along trying to obey the fierce orders from sergeants and lance corporals who proudly trod on each flank filling the air with "Hep, hep!" Every little while on the seemingly long march someone lost step and trod on the preceding man's heels, causing the whole line to pile up like a derailed train — when the sergeant would fiercely plant his heels, roar "Halt!" and reprimand savagely the poor offending boy, who still kept his abject eyes fastened on the coat collar of the heels he had trod upon. After the sergeant had spent his terrible wrath he would glance up and down the line with withering scorn and then, as a cadet of that period recalls:

Putting himself into an attitude, with great emphasis he would order the march resumed, whereupon the sergeants and lance-corporals resumed their yelps louder and fiercer than ever; and so it went on till we poor devils reached the mess hall.

The scholastic requirements were severe, too severe for the p113elementary schools of the period in America; but U. S. M. A. did not lower its standards. A circular written by Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, advised appointees that unless they were better than average in mathematics they had better not enter the Academy as more than one-third of the cadets failed and were dismissed the first year. Yet a cadet writing of this period says that while the examinations were thorough they seemed to him simple enough. The fault here was clearly not with U. S. M. A.'s requirements but with the low educational standards throughout the United States at that time. These reflected the growing pains of our nation. All the conditions of American life were changing so rapidly that it was but natural that the national mind should become unsettled.

New inventions were revolutionizing men's lives. The telegraph, invented in 1844, was beginning to be really felt in 1860; so was Charles Goodyear's process for vulcanizing rubber, invented in 1839. Cyrus McCormick's reaping machine was used almost exclusively in America until the London World's Fair of 1851 brought it to international attention. The power loom had brought social and industrial changes and upheavals which were widely felt. The American railroads had become a mighty force; American steam engines were being built. These new inventions and the drastic changes they introduced had their effect on the most dangerous of the new tendencies: the increasing isolationism of the South.

The cadet body at West Point was truly representative, since the cadets were appointed from every state in the Union. There more than elsewhere it was possible to note the sharp cleavage among the industrial East, the still wild West, and the deep South — where conditions had hardly changed since 1790. Slave labor had proved to be a stultifying force because a slave who was fit for any higher station automatically became a dangerous man. While the physical conditions were in the p114main unchanged from those which Jefferson knew, the mental climate was different. Because of the necessities of slave owning, there was no longer that high regard for the rights of man championed by the Southern patriots of the Revolutionary period.

The typical South cadet came from a stately pillared mansion set beneath live oaks trailing Spanish moss beneath their mistletoe. Permanent gardens gorgeous with vivid azaleas and fragrant with camellias and magnolias surrounded his house, which was filled with ancestral portraits and inherited furniture. His trusted house servants were slaves, but he was hardly conscious of the fact; he believed, however, that only with slave labor could his miles of cotton be harvested. In another way his society was feudal and aristocratic; his friends were likely to be the grandsons and daughters of his grandfathers' friends. The great Southern names were mighty. Southern blood was unmixed; there had been no stream of immigration to the South; families did not as a rule pile their belongings into a prairie schooner and head for the fertile Western wilderness. Nor did their sons remove to fast-growing industrial cities with their opportunities for sudden fortune. Like their house slaves the young masters were contented with the broad acres which they had inherited. But they were troubled by the cotton yield, which each year grew less, and by the encroachment of the new-rich North. This was apparent in the national capital. During the first half of the century representation had been rather equally divided, but in 1860 there were thirty slave-state Senators and thirty-six from the free states.

The bitterness of the Abolitionists in the North and of the Secessionists in the South had already divided even the great Protestant churches. The Methodist Episcopal and the Baptist Church were both divided into Northern and Southern p115branches. In 1861 the Presbyterian Church was also forced to divide; it could no longer exist "half slave and half free."c But within its natural barriers, its high mountains, and its moatlike river West Point had been hardly infected with the national unrest existing without the reservation. There is a monastic singleness of purpose about a military education. The cadets were dedicated to the service of their country; for the most part they had felt themselves removed from the political ferment without. But a cold change was already in the air. An equinoctial storm tore the green summer leaves from the trees and a sharp frost froze up and blackened the flowers and the grass. Northern cadets on furlough — there was only one before graduation — had read Uncle Tom's Cabin, had been wrought up over the cruelties of the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, while Southern cadets fumed under the injustice of the accusations of the extreme Abolitionists — who denounced all Southern slaveowners as monsters, forgetting that Jefferson himself had owned his servants. The black shadow of the coming event had already fallen over Storm King.

The cadets, as gentlemen, tried to keep the burning issues from spoiling friendships. There was a genuine and for a long time a successful effort to ignore them. In 1858 a cadet found it a novelty, almost an impertinence, to be asked if he were a Republican or a Democrat. But the news of John Brown's raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, the certainty that he had tolerated the possibility of a general massacre; the suppression of the outbreak by the former Superintendent of U. S. M. A., Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Robert E. Lee — this broke the bubble of restraint.

Once in earnest — when Paine of Massachusetts was set upon by Jessup of Maryland and two other Southerners — and once in a play — when theatricals called for a duel — were swords drawn by cadets upon cadets. Later came the formal battle between Cadet Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Wade Hampton Gibbs of South Carolina and p116Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Emory Uptonº of New York. The combatants with their seconds were enclosed in a room on the first floor of the First Division. Almost the entire cadet body gathered without the room and one cadet, more excited than the rest, called for the use of bayonets! Upton had attended Oberlin College, to which Negroes were admitted, and Gibbs had insulted him by alleging that he had become too intimate with some of them. It is small wonder that the fight was almost to the death and that it crystallized the painful division which was to set West Pointers against West Pointers in mortal combat. It was Gibbs who afterward fired on Fort Sumter, the first shot of the Civil War.

After the election of Lincoln a straw ballot was taken unofficially but most mischievously; by this means the Southerners were seeking to chastise the Lincoln men. Some of the Northerners pusillanimously, as the count proved, denied their vote for Honest Abe. On the nineteenth of November, a month lacking one day before the secession of South Carolina, the first Southern cadet resigned from the U. S. M. A. — Henry S. Farley of South Carolina. Before the formal declaration of war many Southerners had followed in his footsteps. Trained in obedience to the governments of their states, the Southerners could not envisage the Union as a whole. Robert E. Lee said in a letter which he wrote after he had made his most fateful decision, written, indeed, after he had been unofficially offered the leadership not of the Southern armies but of the Union forces:

I have been unable to make up my mind to raise my hand against my native state, my relatives, my children and my home. . . . I merely tell you what I have done that you may do better.d

His painful decision faced every Southern cadet at West p117Point. But for the Northerners there was much spiritual comfort.

At reveille on January 31, 1861, a trumpet echoed in the still, cold air, followed by the heavy thudding of the caissons of the West Point Battery's brass guns. Trees which had seen the West Point Battery depart on another January morning during the Revolution, when the garrison at West Point had marched to quell the New Jersey mutineers, looked down from old Fort Putnam. Three throat-bursting cheers rose from the Cadet Corps, grouped in front of its barracks, and the West Point drummer boys rolled out the call to battle while a fading moon showed between the lace of the elm branches against the faint pink sky, pale behind the brilliance of the battle flag.e

On Washington's birthday the personnel of the post and the Corps of Cadets were ordered to the chapel

to commemorate the birth of Washington and to listen to the friendly counsels and almost prophetic warnings contained in his farewell "Address to his Countrymen."

Covertly, with hearts deeply moved, the Northern cadets watched the Southerners, many of whom were their dear friends and roommates, as the words of Washington once more were heard in the post he loved:

It is of infinite moment that you shall properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness . . . that you should cherish a cordial, habitual and immovable attachment to it; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

p118 During this service the colors were placed at the altar and the military band was substituted for the choir.

That night the full band replaced the usual drums at tattoo. Just before it passed under the elms in front of the old barracks the band struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner," playing as it had never played before, and so came swinging proudly through the sally port. Perhaps Cadet George A. Custer started it; in any event a rousing cheer suddenly rose from the barracks. But then another song, also considered a national anthem, was heard — "Dixie." And there was a stirring cheer for "Dixie," with Cadet Rosser as its leader. So cheer rivaled cheer late into the night of Washington's Birthday, 1861. Later Rosser and Custer faced each other at the head of the cavalry each was to lead so gallantly on many battlefields. Both survived the war, and when Custer had made his last stand it was Rosser who was among the first to volunteer to go rescue his body where it lay near the Little Big Horn.

As always when war strikes our nation — and always it has happened to strike us as a complete surprise — U. S. M. A. classes were graduated in hurry.

We cannot wonder that trained officers were urgently needed. According to a report made to Congress the Union Navy had but two vessels fit for sea duty, one of twenty tons and one of two tons. And yet in a short while the North not only was successfully patrolling three thousand miles of coast but was enforcing an effective blockade. Our national army strength was little more than sixteen thousand men. The heaviest guns in the forts were ten‑inch columbiads, while the small arms were all muzzle-loading smooth-bores and rifles.

The coastal forts were for the most part sleeping in the sunlight, and there were usually no troops to guard the Northern arsenals. The forts on the Southern seacoast were garrisoned with perhaps a single officer and half a dozen enlisted men, p119who were living on the sweetest terms of amity with the planters around them. In some forts there was merely an ordnance sergeant whose duty consisted of little more than renewing, at not too frequent intervals, the black lacquer on the ancient cast-iron cannons and the triangular piles of almost historic cannon balls beside them. They duly fired the morning gun when the colors were hoisted and another at sunset when they folded and put away the flag which many an old sergeant had followed through romantic Mexico. Needless to say, political tendencies troubled these sleepy garrisons not at all and they fell an easy, almost an unsuspecting, prey to the militant South.

The news of the hopeless defense and final surrender of Fort Sumter on April the eleventh came to West Point by telegraph and a few days later cadets were serenading Professor Weir's son-in‑law, who had been one of the defenders of the fort. President Lincoln had issued his call for seventy-five thousand volunteers, and West Pointers were being commissioned to ever-higher commands — in two armies.

However, the South, which was forming a new army, gave high ranks to West Pointers — such as Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson — whereas in the North they retained in most cases their regular army rank, and there was a flood of political appointees to high places. This may have been in part responsible for the North's early reverses. Certainly many West Pointers who started the war at the bottom of the ladder had time to climb but a rung or two during the war's duration.

When the struggle ended, both Union and Confederate armies were commanded by West Point men. Colonel Dupuy comments:

Practically every important battle saw command on one — and generally both sides — in the hands of graduates. Out of a p120list of sixty of the most important engagements all but five had been commanded on both sides by graduates; of the exceptions one side in each case was commanded by a graduate, and in four cases the individual concerned was victorious.

Note the following table:

Union

Graduates who became

General Officers, regular and volunteer

294

Generals

3

Lieutenant Generals

1

Major Generals

85

Brigadier Generals

205

Confederate

Graduates who became

General Officers

151

Generals

8

Major Generals

40

Brigadier Generals

88

On the twenty-third of January, 1861 — we must remember that war had not yet been declared — Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Beauregard of Louisiana took over the superintendency from Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Delafield. He was as suddenly removed five days later when Major Delafield resumed his former command.

The cadets remaining at West Point after the Southerners had departed and the upper classes graduated before their time took the oath of allegiance; thus only men loyal to the Union remained in the Academy. Yet there had been little bitterness, each man realizing that the other was obeying the dictates of his conscience. On Tuesday night, the twenty-seventh of April, the cadets serenaded Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Seymour, the son-in‑law of Professor Weir, who had just returned from the bitter p121experience of the surrender of Fort Sumter, as has been recorded. And yet the following Friday they were serenading Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Fitzhugh Lee, the handsome and popular instructor from Virginia, who was leaving to take his place in the Confederate Army. The cadets so far forgot military usage as to wave their hats to him next morning when he was on his way to the dock and Lieutenant Lee, forgetting his standing as an officer, actually shook hands with the cadets.

"I believe," says a cadet writing home of this event a day after it happened, "it is the second time that I ever shook hands with an officer, although it is three years that I have been here."

The wonder was that any cadet or graduate from the South remained loyal to the Union, and yet more than half of the graduates living at the time war was declared stood by the Union. The personal sacrifice this entailed cannot be counted; many lost their lives, many were invalided by wounds, and almost all were reduced to utter poverty and cast off by immediate families and relatives. These were indeed moral heroes.

The classes which remained at work were most envious of those already ordered to duty. There were bitter days ahead. The first dispatches from the Battle of Bull Run, which was recognized even then as the first major battle of the war, had all been favorable to the North; so a cadet, passing the almost inhumanly dignified mathematics professor, Church, saluted and would have walked by as usual.

But the professor, instead of acknowledging the salute, said, "Mr. –––––, the news has just been received that our army has met with defeat at Bull Run and is fleeing to Washington in utter rout!"

The cadet was dumfounded at the news and also at the mention of his receiving it.

One more class was graduated hurriedly, each man to be commissioned and sent to the front without a moment's delay; p122this was Custer's class, but Custer was not with it. Yet he had graduated — the goat — at the very foot of his class! It was June the twenty-fourth and the war was more than two months old. Custer was splendid in dress uniform with red sash, with shako and towering plume. He was Officer of the Guard. Two plebsº got into a fight as to who should have precedence at the water faucet. Custer did not stop the fracas; he set up a ring around the contestants saying only that he would see that it was a fair fight! The tactical officer, appearing at that moment, put Custer under arrest and charges were filed against him. But the charges were not pressed and Custer, it will be remembered, became the youngest general in the Union Army, at the age of twenty-three.

Meanwhile Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class."Mr. Henry" Du Pont, class of 1833 — the last class to graduate while Thayer was Superintendent — not only had placed the entire output of his Brandywine Powder Mills and other plants at the disposal of the North but had, as general of the Delaware National Guard, made each man take the oath of allegiance to the Union. Delaware had cast only one-third of its vote for Lincoln, so Du Pont's action may have had a decisive result in swinging the doubtful state to the Northern cause.

Yet Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Leonidas Polk, the West Pointer who had become Bishop to most of the Southwest, cast in his lot with the Confederates, most necessarily believing in their cause. One day he was a bishop, the next a general under the command of the former Superintendent of the Academy, Robert E. Lee.

West Point officers were fighting bravely for the Union in remote and isolated spots as well as Bull Run, where the old West Point Battery had given a good account of itself before the final defeat. In December, 1860, Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Robert Anderson had moved his command from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. He had heard the warlike threats of the p123new South Carolina troops and he feared that as a Union garrison within Southern lines he would be subject to attack. He knew how utterly unprepared was the North. Arrived at Fort Sumter, his chaplain said a prayer for peace as he ran the Stars and Stripes up the flagstaff over Sumter. But the appeasing attitude of Congress would not allow Anderson to take real precautions and he was forced to stand idly by when a vessel loaded with munitions and supplies for the fort was fired upon by Confederate ships and so turned away under his anxious eyes. The garrison was starved out during the siege and surrendered only when the water supply was also exhausted.

Yet other forts remained within Confederate territory for the duration of the war. Fort Pickens at Pensacola, Florida, was defended with a handful of men by the meditative assistant professor Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Adam J. Slemmer, who, a lamb in peacetime, proved to be a tiger in war.f At Key West another graduate, Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Brannan, and at Tortugas, Florida, Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Arnold held forts throughout the war. The First Artillery commemorates these feats in its coat of arms by a hand upholding a torch.

The main events of the War between the States are matters of history; so, too, are the deeds of the West Point-trained generals who led both sides. No remembrance of deep friendship was allowed to interfere with stern duty. In this place, however, we prefer to dwell for a moment on those human exchanges which, while they in no way shortened the war, lighted the way for permanent peace. Any gesture which tended to preserve that "immovable attachment" to the Union was surely not in vain and by these exchanges between officers who had been cadets together at West Point future good will was created. And good will, as history has shown us, was the quality most bitterly needed in the years to follow.

At the battle of Williamsburg a Confederate graduate, p124Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class."Gimlet" Lea, was severely wounded and was cared for by a Ms. Durfee, to whose daughter he became engaged. Custer, who was on the staff of General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McClellan, asked his superior for permission to cross the lines to call on his wounded classmate. Durfee had intended to be married two weeks from the day of Custer's visit, but he was so anxious to have the Yankee for his best man that he decided to be married the next day; so the wedding was celebrated with two uniforms before the altar, one blue and one gray!

One murky night just after the general Battle of the Wilderness a young West Pointer, Morris Schaff,º was sent by General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Grant on a difficult detail. He was to go to Spotsylvania Court House in order to get behind the enemy.

Young Schaff was throwing himself down exhausted in the yard of Todd's Tavern when he stepped on a sleeping man, who called out angrily, "Can't you see where you are going?"

Schaff recognized the voice of a classmate, Mackenzie, who then made a place for him on his poor blanket. Later Mackenzie took Schaff to a little garden where Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Collins, a Confederate casualty, whom both had known at West Point, was lying dead. He had been killed in the Battle of the Wilderness that afternoon. His Northern friends cut a lock of his hair and sent it to his mother, and a suitable marking stone was set upon his grave by his West Point comrades.

At the Battle of Cedar Creek, Custer — who was in the center of the victorious cavalry — was rounding up the fleeing remnants of rebel detachments when he saw an ambulance and heard one of his troops ask the driver who was within.

A husky voice replied, "Do not tell him."

But Custer had recognized that voice; it belonged to Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Ramseur of North Carolina, his good friend at the Academy. Custer had the wounded man brought to Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sheridan's quarters, where, surrounded by his other friends and classmates — p125among whom were Generals Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Pennington and Merritt — he passed quietly away next day. The sacrifice West Pointers made in America's most tragic war will be appreciated when it is remembered that one in every five died and one in every three and possibly even a higher percentage was wounded.

After four bitter years we come at last to the Battle of Appomattox. The South, always inferior in numbers, had collapsed. The North, so slow to wrath, so ill prepared at the start, was clearly the victor. Lee had asked to meet Grant to arrange for the terms of surrender. The two forces were lying quiescent with only a broad ditch between.

General Custer, still a boy in spite of the stars on his uniform, said to another Union general, Pennington, "Let's go and see if we can find Cowan."

Cowan, now a Confederate colonel, had been his friend on the Hudson. They crossed the ditch and asked an officer who was walking up and down if he would send for Colonel Cowan. Not long afterward a horseman appeared, jumped his mount over the big ditch.

"Hello, you damned redheaded Rebel," said Custer as Cowan dismounted.

The old friends were enjoying a chat and a smoke when they noticed a commotion in the Confederate lines. It was a historic commotion — General Lee was riding out to meet Grant! He caught sight of the strange little group by the ditch and sent a member of his staff over to say that he did not wish fraternizing until the surrender had been formally arranged. The friends separated at once, but had planned to reconvene as soon as Lee was out of sight. Much before they expected him General Lee returned. He had seen Grant. He looked depressed and, glancing up again, saw the little group of friends; but he was carried away on a wave of cheering, his loyal followers trying to give him heart in his darkest moment.

p126 Yet before the table, opposite General Grant, General Lee had received every courtesy due to a soldier. The terms of surrender were as magnanimous as Grant could make them and Lee, by accepting them and causing his army to abide by the articles, prevented what might easily have led not only to another hopeless battle and more bloodshed but to years of guerrilla warfare.

The leadership of the war in both armies had been almost exclusively in hands of men trained in Thayer's fortress school. Now the peace — an honorable peace — had been arranged by two West Pointers.


Thayer's Notes:

a Albert E. Church (Class of 1827): a biographical sketch and a partial list of his scientific works can be found at Prof. Rickey's site on the History of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at West Point.

[decorative delimiter]

b This slip — "1943, before another war" is internal evidence that Elizabeth Waugh started work on this book before Pearl Harbor; she must originally have written "cadet life in 1941" or some earlier year, then after war was declared, added "before another war". In her rush to see the book published before her death (see the Foreword) the sentence was updated without being adequately adjusted.

[decorative delimiter]

c For details on the splitting of all three denominations over slavery, see for example "Slavery in Kentucky: Public Opinion Regarding Emancipation and Colonization".

[decorative delimiter]

d See similar letters by Lee quoted by Freeman, I, pp443, 475; and Townsend's account of Lee's interview with Winfield Scott, p637: all three in the space of a few weeks in April and May, 1861.

[decorative delimiter]

e The moon trips up more writers! Advice to those of you who are pondering the authorship of a novel in your future: keep as far away from her as you can.

From the astronomical tables provided at the U. S. Naval Observatory, it can be determined that on January 31, 1861, at West Point (actually: at the contiguous village of Highland Falls; close enough for government work, as the saying goes) the sun rose at 0708h and the moon did not set until 0927h. So far then, so good: the moon was indeed fading in the pink twilight.

From the same collection of tables, however, the moon's altitude at 0708h was 21.8° and her azimuth, roughly in the west of course, was more precisely 229.5°. In practical English: the moon was low enough that she could no longer be seen at all behind Mt. Independence that forms the western backdrop to the Point. Even allowing for a sun not yet risen at Reveille, (0550h according to Waugh, p198, about fifty minutes before twilight by the way), the moon was still low enough, at 31.3°, that she was obscured from most places on post. (A bit further leeway might be possible, but not much: since in 1861, times were not yet measured in Standard Time Zones, local time would have been operative. West Point is at 73°58′ W, and thus only four minutes fast on the central meridian of EST, which is 75° W.)

[decorative delimiter]

f A fair characterization: the full details of the standoff at Fort Pickens are interestingly told by Edwin C. Bearss, "Civil War Operations in and around Pensacola".


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