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THE ADMISSION OF CADETS INTO THE MILITARY ACADEMY.
APPLICATIONS for admission into the United States Military Academy at West Point, should be made by letter to the Secretary of War. By provision of law, each Congressional and Territorial district, and the District of Columbia, is entitled to have one cadet at the Military Academy, and no more. The district appointments are made on the nomination of the member of Congress representing the district at the date of the appointment. The law requires that the individual selected shall be an actual resident of the Congressional district of the State or Territory, or District of Columbia, from which the appointment purports to be made. Also, appointments "at large," not to exceed ten, are annually made. Application can be made, at any time, by the candidate himself, his parent, guardian, or any of his friends, and the name placed on the register. No preference will be given to applications on account of priority; nor will any application be entered in the register when the candidate is under or above the prescribed age; the precise age must be given; no relacation of the regulation in this respect will be made; nor will any application be considered in cases where the age and other qualifications of the candidates are not stated. The fixed abode of the candidate, and number of the Congressional district which he considers his permanent residence, must be set forth in the application. The pay of a cadet is $30 per month, to commence from his admission into the Military Academy, and is considered ample, with proper economy, for his support.
The appointments will be made annually in the month of February or March, on the applications made within the preceding year. The claims of all the candidates on the register will be considered and acted upon. No certain information can be given as to the probable success of the candidate, before the arrival of the period for making the selections. Persons, therefore, making applications, must not expect to receive information on this point.
As a general rule, no person will be appointed who has had a brother educated at the institution.
QUALIFICATIONS. . Candidates must be over sixteen and under twenty-one years of age, at the time of entrance into the Military Academy; must be at least five feet in height, and free from any deformity, disease, or infirmity, which would render them unfit for the military service, and from any disorder of an infectious or immoral character. They must be able to read and write well, and perform with facility and accuracy the various operations of the four ground rules of arithmetic, of reduction, of simple and compound proportion, and of vulgar and decimal fractions.
It must be understood that a full compliance with the above conditions will be insisted on—that is to say-the candidate must write in a fair and legible hand, and without any material mistakes in spelling: such sentences as shall be dictated by the examiners; and he must answer promptly, and without errors, all their questions in the above-mentioned rules of arithmetic: failing in any of these particulars, he will be rejected.
It must also be understood, that every candidate will, soon after his arrival at West Point, be subjected to a rigid examination by an experienced medical board; and should there be found to exist in him any of the following causes of disqualification, to such a degree as will immediately, or in all probability may at no very distant period, impair his efficiency, he will be rejected:
1. Feeble constitution and muscular tenuity; unsound health from whatever cause; indications of former disease; glandular swellings, or other symptoms of scrofula.
2. Chronic cutaneous affections, especially of the scalp, or any disorder of an infectious character.
3. Severe injuries of the bones of the head; convulsions.
4. Impaired vision from whatever cause; inflammatory affections of the eyelids; immobility or irregularity of the iris; fistula lachrymalis, &c., &c.
5. Deafness; copious discharge from the ears.
8. Want of due capacity of the chest, and any other indication of a liability to a pulmonic disease.
9. Impaired or inadequate efficiency of one or both of the superior extremi. ties on account of fractures, especially of the clavicle, contraction of a joint, ex. tenuation, deformity, &c., &c.
10. An unnatural excurvature or incurvature of the spine. 11. Hernia.
12. A varicose state of the veins, of the scrotum and spermatic cord, (when large,) sarcocele, hydrocele, hemorrhoids, fistulas.
13. Impaired or inadequate efficiency of one or both of the inferior extremi. ties on account of varicose veins, fractures, malformation, (flat feet, &c.,) lameness, contraction, unequal length, bunions, over-lying or supernumerary toes, &c., &c.
14. Ulcers, or unsound cicatrices of ulcers likely to break out afresh.
The above Regulations were issued by the War Department in 1862. Although it appears from this official document, that " applieations for admission into the United States Military Academy at West Point, should be made by letter to the Secretary of War," and that “the claims of all candidates on the register will be considered and acted upon," it is also stated, that “the district appointments are made on the nomination of the member of Congress representing the district at the date of the appointment.” This delicate duty, and great privilege of selecting, out of all the young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one years, in a Congressional district of at least 70,000 inhabitants, who aspire to serve their country in a military capacity, the one best qualified, or even well qualified, is not imposed or conferred directly by law, but by the practice of the appointing power, on the member for that district.
REPORT OP THE BOARD OF VISITORS FOR 1863.
The Board of Visitors invited by the Secretary of War to visit the Military Academy at West Point, to make "a full and free investigation of the Military and Scientific instruction of the Cadets, and of the internal police, discipline, and fiscal concerns of the institution, and communicate the results of their observations, with • any suggestions for the improvement of the Academy," consisted of the following members : :
Oliver S. Munsell, Illinois, PRESIDENT. Birdsey G. Northrop, Mass., SECDETARY. Thomas M. Allen, Missouri. Henry Barnard, Connecticut. Samuel W. Bostwick, Ohio. Thomas Brainard, Penn. Cyrus Bryant, Illinois. A. W. Campbell, West Virginia. Ralph W. Emerson, Mass. Oran Faville, Iowa. John H. Goodenow, Maine. P. D. Gurley, District of Columbia. Oliver P. Hubbard, New Hampshire. Edward Maynard, District of Columbia. Henry S. Randall, New York. William H. Russell, Conn. William A. Rust, Maine. Albert Smith, New Hampshire.
The Visitors introduce an account of their inspection with the following remarks :
Some of our number came with objections and prejudices against the Academy. But all doubts as to the value and importance of the institution were banished by the evidence presented in the course of our personal inquiries into its present condition and actual results. The Mexican war clearly evinced the value of military science. Still more has the present war demonstrated the necessity of maintaining, and even enlarging our Military Academy.
This Academy belongs to the whole nation. So far as its purpose and numbers permit, it is the Peoples' College. It is maintained for the special benefit of no particular section, sect, party, or class. We could discover no evidence of aristocracy, exclusiveness, or caste. The Cadets represent all sects and parties, and almost all nationalities, now naturalized among us. The poor are not denied its privileges, for the expenses of all are paid alike. If particular dogmas have at any time prevailed here, the fact is an accidental, rather than an essential one, and should be referred to the ruling influences at the seat of government, and not to any inherent element in the local organization at West Point.
Their Report has been communicated to the Secretary, by whom the same will be transmitted to Congress—to receive such attention as the Secretary and Congress may see fit to bestow on its various suggestions. By permission of the Secretary, we transfer to our pages, that portion of the Report in which the subject of the Admission of Cadets—their number, age, attainments, and mode of appointment, is discussed with considerable fullness.
ADMISSION OF CADETS. In concluding the report of their inspection of this, the only national military school, to which the country naturally looks for the organization and command of her armies, and the construction of her works of defense, the Visitors would respectfully urge on the consideration of the Department, an immediate and thorough revision of the law and regulations relating to the admission of Cadets—the number, the qualifications required, and the mode of ascertaining these qualifications, and of making the appointments. No matter how appropriate may be the location, how complete the buildings and equipment, and how skillful and faithful the teachers, unless there is a constant and sufficient supply of pupils of the right age, character, bodily and mental vigor and aptitude, as well as aspirations for a military career, the public will be disappointed in the practical workings of the institution.
1. The number of pupils in the Military Academy is determined by the law, which limits the Cadet Corps of the United States Ariny to one cadet for each Congressional District in the several States, one for each Territory, one for the District of Columbia, and to forty more, whom the President may appoint, ten each year, from the country at large, without reference to their residence. Under this law, if each Congressional District and Territory were represented, the whole number of cadets would be two hundred and eighty, but owing to vacancies by withdrawal or non-appointment in Congressional Districts in the States involved in the rebellion, the number at this time is reduced to less than two hundred—and the graduating class of 1863, to twenty-five-a number altogether inadequate for the regular army in time of peace, and much below the present and future exigences of the service, while the expense of the Academy remains the same. We are assured by the Superintendent that without any additional expense for building and material equipment, and with a small advance in the pay of pupils and assistant teachers, the Cadet Corps could be increased to four hundred. The Visitors are unanimously of the opinion that the corps should be at once increased to this number, and should be maintained at this maximum at all times, by authorizing the President to appoint to any vacancy which may remain unfilled for three months by reason of nullification, secession, rebellion, or any other cause. If the appointments to fill and maintain the Corps at this maximum, can be selected out of the many American youths, ambitious to serve their country in the army, on the plan of an open competitive examination in the several States, the Visitors believe that ninety out of every one hundred thus appointed will go through the whole course with honor, and the average ability, scholarship, and good conduct of the whole corps, will equal that now reached by the first ten of each class.
2. By the original law providing for the appointment of cadets to the corps of Artillerists and Engineers, and by the act of 1812, by which the Military Academy was made to consist of the Corps of Engineers, the candidates for cadets were to be “not under the age of fourteen, nor above the age of twenty-one years." By regulations of the Department the minimum age is fixed at sixteen years, and the Visitors believe that the interests of the Academy and the military service, will be promoted by making the legal age for admission between eighteen and twenty-one years. The four years preceding and including eighteen are peculiarly the formative period of the body, mind, and character, and should be devoted to the acquisition of right habits of study and general culture, as the proper foundation for all special and professional training, which should not be commenced until the constitution is consolidated, the taste for a pursuit is distinctly pronounced, and the moral character is naturally developed under the influences and supervision of home. The experience of Europe, and particularly of France and England, has led to the abandonment of juvenile military schools, as nurseries for officers; and the very common practice of nominating candidates who exceed the legal age, expresses the convictions of our own people that military studies now require more maturity of mind than was deemed necessary in the early history of the Academy. The present want of uniformity as to age and mental discipline explains in part, the wide disparity of attainments between members of the same class. With few brilliant exceptions, confined to cadets of rare aptitude and vigor of mind, the most solid practical education is obtained by those who come to West Point when at least cighteen years of age, with at least a good preparation in English studies, and a taste for mathematical and military pursuits.
3. The school attainments required by law of candidates for admission to the Military Academy, are as rudimentary and limited as our language can express—far below, we are assured, the requisitions of any similar school in the world. Prior to 1812, when the Academy was little more than a school of mathematics, taught by two professors, in the line of geometrical and algebraical demonstrations, and the practical exercises were confined to surveying, and the simplest forms of military construction, the candidates were not