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becomes the place of our education, its memories become poetic; its associations mingle with the flow of life, and the structure of our minds.
To return. The law having authorized this ideal Academy, it was immediately instituted, by the appointment of officers. The Academy, it is seen, was on quite a small scale. In fact, so far as teaching was concerned, the Academy consisted of two captains of engineers and ten cadets. The two captains were William H. Barron and JareD MANSFIELD. Mr. Mansfield had been a teacher of mathematics, navigation, and the classics, first at New Haven (Conn.,) and then at Philadelphia. He had written a volume of “Essays” on mathematics and physics, quite original, and distinguishing him at that time, as the first mathematician of his country. This was brought to the notice of Mr. Jefferson, who with no great love of military affairs, was a warm friend of science. When the act was passed authorizing the Military Academy, Mr. Jefferson wrote to Mr. Mansfield, that he would appoint him a captain of engineers, for the very purpose of becoming a teacher at West Point. Accordingly he was appointed, on May 3rd, 1802 ; Captain Barron had been appointed in April. Then, in May 1802, the actual Military Academy was constituted, Captains Barron and Mansfield being teachers of mathematics and philosophy, to some half dozen or more cadets and lieutenants. No professor of engineering or of any other department was appointed before 1812. In pursuing the course and growth of instruction at West Point, during this period of ten years, we can only refer to the services of the instructors and graduates. In fact, there were no graduates prior to 1815; but there were appointments made from the cadets of the Military Academy, after more or less study at West Point. To understand what was done, we must refer to the actions of teachers and cadets, rather than to history. Its teachers were few and its annals brief. Captain Mansfield, after a year's teaching at West Point, was in 1808, appointed by Mr. Jefferson, to a more responsible position. It was necessary to the correctness of our public surveys, that the meridian lines and the base lines (which are co-ordinates,) should be established with astronomical accuracy. For this purpose, Captain Mansfield was appointed surveyor general of the north-western territory ; furnished with astronomical instruments, and taking his residence in Ohio, proceeded to establish and perfect that beautiful system of surveys, by which the north-western states are distinguished. Retaining his military bent, with a view to his original destination at West Point, he actually returned there in 1814, to recommence, as we shall see hereafter, his career as an instructor in the national institution. Of Captain Barron, his co-teacher, we only know that he was relieved in February, 1807. At the same time, his successor, FERDINAND R. HASSLER, was appointed, and remained till he resigned in 1810. Mr. Hassler was, we believe, a Swiss by birth. He wrote a small treatise on mathematics, and had quite an extensive reputation, as a mathematician, but was said to be too analytical and refined in the character of his mind, for American practical habits. He was intended for the coast survey, and, we believe, actually commenced it.
In November, 1806, ALDEN PARTRIDGE, superintendent of engineers, was appointed acting assistant professor of mathematics, and retained that position till April, 1812.
The “Teacherships” of French and drawing were created, by the act of February, 1803, being a very important addition to the original scheme of the Academy. To the teachership of French, Francis De Masson was appointed, March, 1804, and resigned in March, 1812. To the teachership of drawing, CHRISTIAN E. ZOEL LER was appointed, September, 1808, and resigned in April, 1810. Mr. Masson was a Frenchman by birth ; Mr. Zoeller, a Swiss. Mr. Masson was highly spoken of by Colonel Williams, a good judge of what constitutes a scholar. Mr. Zoeller was an amiable man, of no high attainments, whose instruction in drawing was wholly confined to the military part, fortifications and bridges.
From this brief history, it appears, that there were but six teachers at West Point, between 1802 and 1812. Of these, no more than four were ever present at one time, and that only between 1808 and 1810. The teachers present, each year, were as follows: 1802–1803, . . . Captain Barron, Mathematics.
Captain Mansfield, Philosophy.
Francis Masson, French.
Francis Masson, French.
Alden Partridge, Mathematics.
Alden Partridge, “
Christian Zoeller, Drawing.
Francis Masson, French. This glance at the actual teachers of West Point enables us to
see at a glance, what was done. No continuous study was pursued at all, except mathematics. For the eight years, between 1804 and 1812, French was taught by an able professor, Mr. Masson, and from 1808 to 1810, drawing. In 1812, this inchoate existence of the Academy was ended by the act of congress, reorganizing the institution, and placing it on a permanent and extensive foundation. The next period of five years, from 1812 to 1817, was the forming period of the Academy. In some respects, its elements were chaotic. In others, its personnel was inefficient and inharmonious. In others, again, its materials of instruction were inadequate. From this condition it finally emerged, and attained its present high character and usefulness. The history of this change is important, if not interesting to those who would understand what are the true foundations of a great school of education. In the meanwhile, let us return to what the Cadets of the Academy had done. If they were few, and with small means of instruction, they may nevertheless have shown that the Academy was not altogether fruitless. How many cadets were appointed between 1802 and 1812, we do not exactly know, but we have the number appointed from the Academy. The number of cadets promoted from the Academy during that period were for each year, thus :
In 1802, ...
In 1812, ... 18. This makes eighty-nine in ten years. Let us look at their career, as stated in the brief annals of the army; or, as they are retained in memory. Of this number, comprising ten cadets of more than half a century ago, this is the result :
Killed in battle, ... 10.
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This is no bad roll. If we were to search our college rolls for those who had been really useful, those who died in battle, or served to the end, or entered other fields of usefulness, or now live in the performance of duty, we should find a less grateful exhibition than this. The number of those who had been “ dropped," or " dismissed,” for incompetence, or vice, would be far greater. Alas! if we could read the secret history of the college roll, how sad would be that account! We know, that in times past, many of the officers of the army were addicted to dissipation. Happily, we can say, many less now. But since we would estimate the value of the Military Academy, even in its most imperfect condition, let us see who some of these men were.
The first cadet appointed was General JOSEPH G. Swin,' who having risen to the rank of general of engineers and inspector of the Military Academy, resigned, became surveyor of the port of New York, and is now a venerable and respected citizen of Geneva Of those who were killed in battle, Eleazer D. Wood, (whose montment stands at West Point,) was killed while loading a cannon, in the sortie from Fort Erie. Five others were killed on the Canadla frontier, and four in battle with the Indians. Of those who died in service, two reached the rank of general, and eight that of field officers. Of those who are now in service, (7,) one is General Joseph G. TOTTEX, chief of the corps of engineers, who served on the Canada frontier in the war of 1812, and at the siege of Vera Cruz One is Col. SYLVANUS THAYER, who served in the war of 1812–15; who was superintendent of the Military Academy from 1817 to 1833, and to whom it is indebted for a large part of its psefulness, Of these gentlemen, we shall have more to say, when we refer to the forming period of the institution. Another is Colonel Resz De Rossy, who was distinguished in the battle of Plattaborg, and became superintendent of the Academy on the retirement of CL Thayer. Of those who resigned or were disbanded, many died young; one became a member of congress and politician; and another, Col. WILLIAM McRae, was a remarkable man, distinguished for gallant conduct in the battle of Niagara and Fort Erie, a member of the board of engineers, and of cultivated mind; be reigned from the army and became surveyor general for Missouri and Arkansas, and finally died of cholera at St. Louis. Of the wbrile eighty-nine, who were commissioned prior to 1813, but twenty-one were alive in 1850, and several others have died since. The few
The first diploma, which we suppose was a manoscript certificate, was the one given to the then Cade Swin, and signed by Captain Barton and Manabek.
who now remain have seen more than half a century's service iu useful employments. Perhaps it should be mentioned to the advantage of the Military Academy, as a school of physical education, that at the end of half a century, twenty of its pupils out of eightynine, should be yet alive. In twenty years of civil life, as appears from the United States census of 1830 and 1850, more than the same proportion of youth between ten and twenty years of age perished. The general strength and health of the pupils of West Point are beyond a doubt greater than that of the same number of young men brought up in the ordinary methods of education. This is not wholly due to physical exercises, but also to moral education, and to the care and comforts of their mode of life. Will any one deny that discipline is a part of moral education? Is not self-restraint, the regularity of habits, and the art of using the mind in intellectual pursuits, the most important elements of a moral education. It is to all these, and not merely the training and exercise of arms, that the eléves of the Academy owe so large a share of the health and strength of life.
In the period of its history which we have now examined, the Military Academy was really only in the germ of its existence. Like most other useful or remarkable enterprises, it was first thought of as a thing needed; then began without any clear idea of what it would become, and was then improved upon, till it grew to be of magnitude and importance.
PERIOD 11.—1812—1825. The Academy, in its germinal existence, whose history we have briefly traced, was obviously inadequate to supply the army and country with young men instructed in the art of war. Congress authorized the appointment of a large number of cadets. But the President did not act upon it, because there were neither professors, nor books, nor quarters, nor material at West Point for their training. In 1808, Mr. Jefferson recommended an enlargement of the Academy. In 1810, Mr. Madison did the same. In vain, however, were these recommendations, till the nation was roused from its indolent repose by the sudden shock of war. In 1811, the battle of Tippecanoe electrified the people. The war-whoop sounded on the north-western frontier, and the aggressive conduct of Great Britain became insufferable. War was an imperious necessity. Then it was that the use if not necessity of an institution for military training became obvious to all reflecting minds. In April, 1812, the act was passed which erected the frame-work of the pres.