Category Archives: Photos

Michie Stadium

Named after “Dennis Michie” Class of 1892 who brought Football to West Point

September 28, 1957 – Army 42 Nebraska 0

Sports Illustrated named Michie Stadium #3 in the world in its list of the top 20 sports venues of the century. “It’s a scene straight from The Long Gray Line, surpassed only by the view of the Hudson River from the west stands at Michie Stadium. The Corps of Cadets, seated together and dressed in gray and black, evokes memories of when Army was one of the most formidable of college football powers, and cannon blasts shake the 76-year-old edifice to its foundation every time the Black Knights score.”

Michie Stadium as it is today

For Years Cadets seating started at the 40 yard line behind the Army Team, (so a player coming off the field could look up into the eyes of the Corps of Cadets) however in recent year Cadets have been moved toward the NW corner. The new seating will place the Corps in the East Stands – no longer behind the Team.



Holleder Center

Holleder Center, home of West Point’s hockey and basketball programs, begins its 14th year as the venue for Army’s premiere winter sports teams. The 131,000-square-foot building, located adjacent to picturesque Michie Stadium, opened on Oct. 1, 1985, after a 30-month construction period. The $16-million building houses “Tate Rink”, the home of the Army ice hockey team, “Christl Arena”, the venue for the men’s and women’s basketball squads.
Holleder Center was named in honor of Maj. Donald W. Holleder ’56, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1967. While at West Point, Don Holleder excelled both in basketball and football. He earned All-America honors in the latter, and has been enshrined in the NCAA Hall of Fame.

Holleder Center on the left, West Stands of Michie Stadium top right and Kimsey Athletic Center on the Right

Tate Rink seats 2,746 and continues to attract fans in record numbers while providing the Cadets with a comfortable home-ice advantage. Since their debut in Tate Rink, a 5-0 win over Ryerson Tech on Oct. 25, 1985, the Cadets have enjoyed much success in their new home. In each of the past nine seasons, the Cadets have drawn paid attendance of more than 35,000 patrons per year.

In 1996-97, the Cadets set a third consecutive attendance mark, attracting 42,929 fans to surpass the previous mark of 42,565 established in 1995-96. Ten times in 1997-98, the Cadets played before a home crowd of more than 2,000 ardent supporters, with five of those crowds surpassing 2,500 fans. The all-time single-game attendance mark for Tate Rink is 3,147, established in 1988-89 when Army edged Rensselaer 4-3.

Seating in the rink is comprised of chairback seats, fixed bench bleachers, standing room areas and handicapped-access platforms. All seating is close to the ice, giving the rink a cozy feel that continues to make Tate Rink one of the most popular rinks on the East Coast.

“Christl Arena”

The Edward C. Christl Jr. Arena seats 5,043 and was named for 1st Lt. “Edward C. Christl” Jr. (USMA ’44), who was killed in Austria in 1945. Elected basketball team captain during his senior year, Christl led the Cadets to a perfect 15-0 record.

Christl Arena possesses a Horner hardwood basketball floor, which was refurbished in 1999 and measures 149×116 feet. The arena also contains six Hydra-Rib basketball supports, fixed chair and bench seating for spectators and a four-sided overhead scoreboard at midcourt, easily visible at any angle.

Christl Arena has been host to other sporting events such as international volleyball and gymnastics meets and exhibition basketball contests. It has also been the site of various intercollegiate and high school championship tournaments and has served as home to Army’s women’s basketball team the past six years.



United States Military Academy Band

The 36 Member Band plus a Commanding Officer amd The Drum Major as it appeared in 1890

Academic Excellence

At West Point, a Cadet is far more than a mere face in the crowd. Small classes– usually 12 to 18 cadets — assure individual participation and individual attention. Cadets are expected to participate daily and are evaluated frequently. If unsure of the material taught on any given day, or if one desires to move beyond the material, extra one-on-one instruction is available. The present curriculum reflects more than 195 years of evolutionary change both in the military profession and in higher education. Today’s balanced offering of courses in the arts and sciences leads to a Bachelor of Science degree and builds a foundation for continuing education and professional development. Approximately 80% of West Point graduates who remain in the Army beyond their initial commitment do attend graduate school, usually funded by the Army.

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The Kimsey Athletic Center

The Center was donated by Jim Kimsey – Class of 1962

Nestled among several of the U.S. Military Academy’s showcase athletic facilities, sparkling Kimsey Athletic Center serves as the new home to Army’s storied football program. The massive 120,000-square-foot, four-story facility houses Army’s state-of-art strength development and athletic training centers, spacious locker rooms, coaches’ offices, meeting rooms, equipment room, media room and multi-purpose rooms, among others. Kimsey Athletic Center will also serve as the home to the Earl Blaik Gallery and Doug Kenna Hall of Army Sports, a thorough depiction of West Point’s rich athletics heritage.

The Holleder Center can be seen on the left and the West Stands of Michie Stadium can be seen behind the Kinsey Athletic Center.

The South Wall of the Center facing one of the Practice Fields.

Cadet Locker Room Facilities

In Addition to the Earl Blaik Gallery,in Honor of Col Earl Red Blaik Army’s Legendary Football Coach and Doug Kenna Hall Honoring one of Army’s Great Football Players, The Kimsey Center houses the O’Meara, Malek, Pete Dawkins, Class of 1959 Strength Developement Center.

Duty Honor Country

The Mission of the United States Military Academy

To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.”

The West Point Motto & Crest

The best source of information on the Academic Board’s selection
of the USMA motto in 1898 is found in the U.S. Military Academy Staff
Records which are available in the USMA Archives. There is very little information on the reason for the selection of the motto and no
discussion of why a committee was originally established in 1896 to
consider the subject of a so called “Device for the Military Academy.”

At an Academic Board Meeting of 31 January 1898 the committee
appointed to consider the subject of a “Device for the Military Academy” submitted a report dated 14 January 1898. After amendment, the report was ultimately adopted. This committee, which selected both the Academy’s crest and motto, stated that: “The selection of a
satisfactory motto includes some of the foregoing, such as significance, propriety, intelligibility, and suitability, as well as dignity, conciseness, and to a certain extent sonorousness and tradition.”

Although some discussion of the reason for the selection of the crest is included, the following is the only mention in the Staff Records of the reasoning behind the selection of the words for the motto:

“After much thought and inviting the opinion of many others, the
Committee is satisfied that the sentiment expressed by the words:
‘Duty, Honor, Country’ more clearly and concisely express the genius of the institution than that embodied in any other motto or quotation which has suggested itself or has been suggested by others. It has met the approval of those to whom it has been submitted.”

Charles W. Larned, Professor of Drawing, Chairman
E.W. Bass, Professor of Mathematics
S.E. Tillman, Professor of Chemistry

At the following meeting of the Board on 4 February 1898 it was decided, by a vote of 5 3 with three members absent, that the words for the motto should be arranged as “Duty, Honor, Country.” The amended report of the committee was then formally adopted.

At the 31 August 1898 meeting of the Academic Board it was resolved:
“that the Academic Board recommend to the Honorable Secretary of War
that the design for a Seal and Arms and the Motto submitted and
recommended by the Committee of the Academic Board appointed for its
consideration and preparation, be adopted as the Seal, Arms, and Motto
of the U.S. Military Academy.”

That approval was evidently forthcoming because at the 15 December 1898 meeting of the Board the following resolution was adopted:

“Resolved that the sum of one dollar and five cents ($1.05) be allotted from the Contingent Fund of the Military Academy appropriations for the current fiscal year, to be expended under the direction of the Academic Board for the payment of the fee for copyrighting the Arms, Motto, and Seal of the Military Academy, and Descriptive Text of same.”

Office of USMA Historian 25 February 1980

Dr. Stephen Grove — USMA Historian, Office of Policy, Planning and Assessment

L’Ecole Polytechnique Monument

As it was until the early 1940’s

Until the early 40s, the Statue was referred to as the “Gold Tooth” by the Corps of Cadets.

Located in Central Area, the monument was presented to the Academy in 1919 by the Cadets of the French School. It is a replica of a statue standing on the grounds of that school and is tribute to the French Cadets who took part in the defense of France in 1814. Originally Gold Plated.

In The early 40’s the Middies from the Naval Academy sneaked onto West Point and painted the Statue prior to an Army Navy Game. When the Academy removed the paint, the Gold Plating was worn off and was never replaced.

Cadet Lore further states that whenever the cannon fired, (reason for firing known only to Cadets) the French Cadet would come to attention salute and the Flag would wave back & forth.

It should be noted the cannon balls are too large for the cannon, the Cadet’s scabbard is straight while the saber is curved, the wind is blowing the tails of the Cadet’s uniform backward while it is blowing the Flag forward and his coat is unbuttoned.

The Statue now stands inside Central Area next to the original 1st Division, an area restricted to only Cadets. It once stood outside just to the North of the Old Central Area, on the South edge of the Plain right across the street from the North Sally Port.

Why the Statue was removed from public access can only be speculated

That it is better protected from Middies

That cannon fire was damaging Cadet Barracks

Academy Officials decided to end a piece of Cadet Lore by removing the Statue from public access.

Additional information about the Statue is restricted Cadet knowledge. If any Cadet would like more information relating to Cadet Lore associated with cannon fire, they should contact Roy Thorsen or Stan Harvill Class of 1955.

L’Ecole Polytechnique Monument as it stands today — The public protected from it

The French Monument
(AOG Gray Matter)

Previously it had graced old Diagonal Walk, before the near doubling of the size of the Corps of Cadets in the mid-sixties forced the movement onto The Plain of that esteemed walk. It now stands next to the 1st Division of Old Central Barracks, the only portion of that ancient structure to survive the expansion of Washington Hall and the addition of the MacArthur and Eisenhower wings of barracks necessitated by the larger Corps. It officially is known as The French Monument, but in an earlier day it was nicknamed “The Gold Tooth” because it was coated in gold leaf. Unfortunately, it was not immune to a midshipman’s prank that doused the statue in Navy blue paint prior to an Army-Navy football game many years ago. It, like the original in France, now boasts a blue-green patina. (Note since this publication the Statue has been painted)

Many older graduates recall, as plebes, being required to cite the mistakes attributed to the sculptor of the statue: the cadet’s saber is curved but his scabbard is straight; the wind is blowing his coat tails in one direction and the flag in another; the cannon balls at the base are larger in diameter than the bore of the cannon behind the cadet; and, horror of horrors, the brave cadet has a button unbuttoned! And in combat, no less. And thereby hangs a tale.

For the original statue of the staunch little French cadet, proudly holding his colors and bravely brandishing his saber, was created by Corneille Theunissen and dedicated in July 1914 to mark the centennial and commemorate the courage of the cadets of L’Ecole Polytechnique in France when they were mobilized to help defend Paris in 1814. The motto upon the statue reads, “Pour la Patrie, les sciences et la glorie” In the end, Paris fell, and Napoleon was forced to abdicate. Nevertheless, the 1814 statue stands proudly on the Court of Honor at L’Ecole Polytechnique. The cadets, however, again would play a role in the Revolution of July 1830 that deposed Charles X.

In December 1830, no less a personage than the aged Marquis de Lafayette visited L’Ecole Polytechnique to present a letter of fraternal congratulations from the West Point cadets to the Twenty-ninth of July cadets “our brothers in arms and our co-partners in the defence of that sacred Liberty”. The French cadets sent an equally cordial and respectful reply. Sometime in 1918, the discovery of these letters in the papers of Marshall Bosquet, one of the French cadets who signed the 1830 letter, led to two independent actions.

In May of 1918, the cadets of L’Ecole Polytechnique sent a letter of gratitude confirming the ties between France and the United States in the Great War. They also had a miniature of the 1814 statue created for presentation to the cadets of West Point. The Corps sent a warm letter back, citing the historic links between the two countries. Both letters were published in the Howitzer, along with a photograph of the statuette. The West Point cadets who answered the letter on behalf of the Corps, however, soon graduated a year early in June 1918 and were preparing to assist France in battle. The next two classes were combined into a mega class and graduated soon afterwards, on 1 November 1918 – just ten days before the Armistice. After a tour of the European battlefields, the younger class was recalled to West Point for additional academic training, graduating again on 11 June 1919.

Also in 1918, Les Amis de l’Ecole Polytechnique (equivalent to our Association of Graduates) determined that they would raise funds to present a full-size casting of the statue to West Point. On 21 October 1919, after Douglas MacArthur had arrived as Superintendent (12 June 1919), France sent a military mission to help dedicate the statue at West Point. Among the delegation was Marshal Foch. The base is said to be of stone from Verdun, with relics from the Marne battlefield inside. When the Washington Hall mural was painted in the thirties, represented in the lower right corner is Joffre at the Marne. An earlier proposal depicted Foch at the Marne.

The Class of 1920 that presided over the dedication of the statue had not yet reported to West Point when the letter of May 1918 and the miniature statue had been received. The installation of the full-sized statue evidently was considered a minor event in the great sweep of things and received only a mention, sans photo, in their 1920 Howitzer. No specific date, no mention of dignitaries in attendance – although much was made of the autumnal visits by King Albert and Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium and the Prince of Wales. Of course, these personages were able to grant amnesty to the Corps, and the statue was not. While King Albert was the first reigning monarch to have visited West Point, the Prince of Wales took the added step of joining the Corps of Cadets for dinner in the mess hall. After delivering a short address, he was honored with a Long Corps Yell.

Looking deeper into the 1920 Howitzer, however, one finds another mention of the statue in the History of the Class of 1922. It is a facetious reference to upper classmen “crawling” the French cadet for not wearing a B-plate until a plebe informs them that the statue represents a “French soldier, Revolution of 1830, sir.” Of course, the plebe is wrong, but there is a reason (not an excuse) for his confusion. It was the letters regarding the Revolution of 1830 that prompted two separate groups to provide statues commemorating the 1814 defense of Paris to West Point. Fortunately, this 1922 class history does include a photograph of the installed statue, beneath a tree and facing the barracks, with The Plain, the flagpole, and Battle Monument in the background.

The Statuette


One of the Company B-1, Class of 1954 Athletes at the French Monument

The West Point Cemetary

The West Point Cemetery behind The Old Cadet Chapel

Links established by the USMA Department of History

Cemetery Home Page

Index of Grave Sites

Cemetery History

Cemetery Map

Cemetery Tour

Links to Other Cemeteries

Although the site below misses a number of key graves, it is a very useful list providing very good information on 106 prominate individuals

Escorting Our Classmate, Our Friend General Wayne Downing Class of 1962


24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions

by Jari A. Villanueva

Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to render emotion than the call Taps. The melody is both eloquent and haunting and the history of its origin is interesting and somewhat clouded in controversy. In the British Army, a similar call known as Last Post has been sounded over soldiers’ graves since 1885, but the use of Taps is unique with the United States military, since the call is sounded at funerals, wreath-laying and memorial services.

Taps began as a revision to the signal for Extinguish Lights (Lights Out) at the end of the day.

Up until the Civil War, the infantry call for Extinguish Lights was the one set down in Silas Casey’s (1801-1882) Tactics, which had been borrowed from the French. The music for Taps was adapted by Union General Daniel Butterfield for his brigade (Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac) in July, 1862.

Daniel Adams Butterfield (31 October 1831-17 July 1901) was born in Utica, New York and graduated from Union College at Schenectady. He was the eastern superintendent of the American Express Company in New York when the Civil War broke out. Despite his lack of military experience, he rose quickly in rank. A Colonel in the 12th Regiment of the New York State Militia, he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of a brigade of the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac. The 12th served in the Shenandoah Valley during the the Bull Run Campaign.

During the Peninsular Campaign Butterfield served prominently when during the Battle of Gaines Mill, despite an injury, he seized the colors of the 83rd Pennsylvania and rallied the regiment at a critical time in the battle. Years later, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for that act of heroism.

As the story goes, General Butterfield was not pleased with the call for Extinguish Lights feeling that the call was too formal to signal the days end and with the help of the brigade bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton, wrote Taps to honor his men while in camp at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, following the Seven Day’s battle. These battles took place during the Peninsular Campaign of 1862. The call, sounded that night in July, 1862, soon spread to other units of the Union Army and was even used by the Confederates. Taps was made an official bugle call after the war.

The highly romantic account of how Butterfield composed the call surfaced in 1898 following a magazine article written that summer. The August, 1898 issue of Century Magazine contained an article called The Trumpet in Camp and Battle, by Gustav Kobbe, a music historian and critic. He was writing about the origin of bugle calls in the Civil War and in reference to Taps, wrote:
In speaking of our trumpet calls I purposely omitted one with which it seemed most appropriate to close this article, for it is the call which closes the soldier’s day. . . . Lights Out. I have not been able to trace this call to any other service. If it seems probable, it was original with Major Seymour, he has given our army the most beautiful of all trumpet-calls.

Kobbe was using as an authority the Army drill manual on infantry tactics prepared by Major General Emory Upton in 1867 (revised in 1874). The bugle calls in the manual were compiled by Major (later General) Truman Seymour of the 5th U.S. Artillery. Taps was called Extinguish Lights in these manuals since it was to replace the Lights Out call disliked by Butterfield. The title of the call was not changed until later, although other manuals started calling it Taps because most soldiers knew it by that name. Since Seymour was responsible for the music in the Army manual, Kobbe assumed that he had written the call. Kobbe s inability to find the origin of Extinguish Lights (Taps) prompted a letter from Oliver W. Norton in Chicago who claimed he knew how the call came about and that he was the first to perform it.

Norton wrote:
Chicago, August 8, 1898
I was much interested in reading the article by Mr. Gustav Kobbe, on the Trumpet and Bugle Calls, in the August Century. Mr. Kobbe says that he has been unable to trace the origin of the call now used for Taps, or the Go to sleep , as it is generally called by the soldiers. As I am unable to give the origin of this call, I think the following statement may be of interest to Mr. Kobbe and your readers.. ..

During the early part of the Civil War I was bugler at the Headquarters of Butterfield s Brigade, Morell s Division, Fitz-John Porter s Corp, Army of the Potomac. Up to July, 1862, the Infantry call for Taps was that set down in Casey s Tactics, which Mr. Kobbe says was borrowed from the French. One day, soon after the seven days battles on the Peninsular, when the Army of the Potomac was lying in camp at Harrison’s Landing, General Daniel Butterfield, then commanding our Brigade, sent for me, and showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that still summer night, and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade. The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades, asking for copies of the music which I gladly furnished. I think no general order was issued from army headquarters authorizing the substitution of this for the regulation call, but as each brigade commander exercised his own discretion in such minor matters, the call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac. I have been told that it was carried to the Western Armies by the 11th and 12th Corps, when they went to Chattanooga in the fall of 1863, and rapidly made it s way through those armies. I did not presume to question General Butterfield at the time, but from the manner in which the call was given to me, I have no doubt he composed it in his tent at Harrison s Landing. I think General Butterfield is living at Cold Spring, New York. If you think the matter of sufficient interest, and care to write him on the subject, I have no doubt he will confirm my statement. -Oliver W. Norton

The editor did write to Butterfield as suggested by Norton. In answer to the inquiry from the editor of the Century, General Butterfield writing from Gragside, Cold Spring, under the date of August 31, 1898 wrote:

I recall, in my dim memory, the substantial truth of the statement made by Norton, of the 83rd Pa., about bugle calls. His letter gives the impression that I personally wrote the notes for the call. The facts are, that at the time I could sound calls on the bugle as a necessary part of military knowledge and instruction for an officer commanding a regiment or brigade. I had acquired this as a regimental commander. I had composed a call for my brigade, to precede any calls, indicating that such were calls, or orders, for my brigade alone. This was of very great use and effect on the march and in battle. It enabled me to cause my whole command, at times, in march, covering over a mile on the road, all to halt instantly, and lie down, and all arise and start at the same moment; to forward in line of battle, simultaneously, in action and charge etc. It saves fatigue. The men rather liked their call, and began to sing my name to it. It was three notes and a catch. I can not write a note of music, but have gotten my wife to write it from my whistling it to her, and enclose it. The men would sing , Dan, Dan, Dan, Butterfield, Butterfield to the notes when a call came. Later, in battle, or in some trying circumstances or an advance of difficulties, they sometimes sang, Damn, Damn, Damn, Butterfield, Butterfield.

The call of Taps did not seem to be as smooth, melodious and musical as it should be, and I called in some one who could write music, and practiced a change in the call of Taps until I had it suit my ear, and then, as Norton writes, got it to my taste without being able to write music or knowing the technical name of any note, but, simply by ear, arranged it as Norton describes. I did not recall him in connection with it, but his story is substantially correct. Will you do me the favor to send Norton a copy of this letter by your typewriter? I have none. -Daniel Butterfield

On the surface, this seems to be the true history of the origin of Taps. Indeed, the many articles written about Taps cite this story as the beginning of Butterfield’s association with the call. Certainly, Butterfield never went out of his way to claim credit for its composition and it wasn’t until the Century article that the origin came to light.

There are however, significant differences in Butterfield’s and Norton’s stories. Norton says that the music given to him by Butterfield that night was written down on an envelope while Butterfield wrote that he could not read or write music! Also Butterfield’s words seem to suggest that he was not composing a melody in Norton s presence, but actually arranging or revising an existing one. As a commander of a brigade, he knew of the bugle calls needed to relay troop commands. All officers of the time were required to know the calls and were expected to be able to play the bugle. Butterfield was no different-he could play the bugle but could not read music. As a colonel of the 12th N.Y. Regiment, before the war, he had ordered his men to be thoroughly familiar with calls and drills.

What could account for the variation in stories? My research shows that Butterfield did not compose Taps but actually revised an earlier bugle call. This sounds blasphemous to many, but the fact is that Taps existed in an early version of the call Tattoo. As a signal for end of the day, armies have used Tattoo to signal troops to prepare them for bedtime roll call. The call was used to notify the soldiers to cease the evening’s drinking and return to their garrisons. It was sounded an hour before the final call of the day to extinguish all fires and lights. This early version is found in three manuals the Winfield Scott (1786 -1866 ) manual of 1835, the Samuel Cooper (1798-1876) manual of 1836 and the William Gilham (1819?-1872) manual of 1861. This call referred to as the Scott Tattoo was in use from 1835-1860. A second version of Tattoo came into use just before the Civil War and was in use throughout the war replacing the Scott Tattoo.
The fact that Norton says that Butterfield composed Taps cannot be questioned. He was relaying the facts as he remembered them. His conclusion that Butterfield wrote Taps can be explained by the presence of the second Tattoo. It was most likely that the second Tattoo, followed by Extinguish Lights (the first eight measures of today’s Tattoo), was sounded by Norton during the course of the war.
It seems possible that these two calls were sounded to end the soldier’s day on both sides during the war. It must therefore be evident that Norton did not know the early Tattoo or he would have immediately recognized it that evening in Butterfield’s tent. If you review the events of that evening, Norton came into Butterfield’s tent and played notes that were already written down on an envelope. Then Butterfield changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. If you compare that statement while looking at the present day Taps, you will see that this is exactly what happened to turn the early (Scott) Tattoo in Taps. Butterfield as stated above, was a Colonel before the War and in General Order No. 1 issued by him on December 7, 1859 had the order: The Officers and non-commissioned Officers are expected to be thoroughly familiar with the first thirty pages, Vol. 1, Scott’s Tactics, and ready to answer any questions in regard to the same previous to the drill above ordered Scott’s Tactics include the bugle calls that Butterfield must have known and used.

If Butterfield was using Scott’s Tactics for drills, then it is feasible that he would have used the calls as set in the manual. Lastly, it is hard to believe that Butterfield could have composed anything that July in the aftermath of the Seven Days battles which saw the Union Army of the Potomac mangled by Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Over twenty six thousand casualties were suffered on both sides. Butterfield had lost over 600 of his men on June 27th at the battle of Gaines Mill and had himself been wounded. In the midst of the heat, humidity, mud, mosquitoes, dysentery, typhoid and general wretchedness of camp life in that early July, it is hard to imagine being able to write anything.

In the interest of historical accuracy, it should be noted that it is not General Butterfield who composed Taps, rather that he revised an earlier call into the present day bugle call we know as Taps. This is not meant to take credit away from him. It is only to put things in a correct historic manner. Following the Peninsular Campaign, Butterfield served at 2nd Bull Run, Antietam and at Marye’s Heights in the Battle of Fredericksburg. Through political connections and his ability for administration, he became a Major General and served as chief of staff of the Union Army of the Potomac under Generals Joseph Hooker and George Meade. He was wounded at Gettysburg and then reassigned to the Western Theater. By war’s end, he was breveted a brigadier general and stayed in the army after the Civil War, serving as superintendent of the army’s recruiting service in New York City and colonel of the 5th Infantry. In 1870, after resigning from the military, Butterfield went back to work with the American Express Company. He was in charge of a number of special public ceremonies, including General William Tecumseh Sherman’s funeral in 1891. Besides his association with Taps, Butterfield also designed the system of Corps Badges which were distinctive shapes of color cloth sewn on to uniforms to distinguish units.

Butterfield died in 1901. His tomb is the most ornate in the cemetery at West Point despite the fact that he never attended. There is also a monument to Butterfield in New York City near Grant’s Tomb. There is nothing on either monument that mentions Taps or Butterfield’s association with the call. Taps was sounded at his funeral.
How did it become associated with funerals? The earliest official reference to the mandatory use of Taps at military funeral ceremonies is found in the U.S. Army Infantry Drill Regulations for 1891, although it had doubtless been used unofficially long before that time, under its former designation Extinguish Lights.

The first use of Taps at a funeral during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia. Captain John C. Tidball of Battery A, 2nd Artillery ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Since the enemy was close, he worried that the traditional 3 volleys would renew fighting.

During the Peninsular Campaign in 1862, a soldier of Tidball’s Battery – A of the 2nd Artillery – was buried at a time when the battery occupied an advanced position, concealed in the woods. It was unsafe to fire the customary three volleys over the grave on account of the proximity of the enemy, and it occurred to Captain Tidball that the sounding of Taps would be the most ceremony that would be substituted. The custom, thus originated, was taken up throughout the Army of the Potomac, and finally confirmed by orders. Colonel James A. Moss Officer’s Manual Pub. George Banta Publishing Co. Menasha Wisconsin 1913 Elbridge Coby in Army Talk (Princeton, 1942), p.208 states that it was B Battery of the Third Artillery that first used Taps at a military funeral.

This first sounding of Taps at a military funeral is commemorated in a stained glass window at The Chapel of the Centurion (The Old Post Chapel) at Fort Monroe, Virginia. The window, made by R. Geissler of New York and based on a painting by Sidney King, was dedicated in 1958 and shows a bugler and a flag at half staff. In that picture a drummer boy stands beside the bugler. The grandson of that drummer boy purchased Berkeley Plantation where Harrisons Landing is located. The site where Taps was born is also commemorated. In this case, by a monument located on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation. This monument to Taps was erected by the Virginia American Legion and dedicated on July 4, 1969. The site is also rich in history, for the Harrisons of Berkeley Plantation included Benjamin Harrison and William Henry Harrison, both presidents of the United States as well as Benjamin Harrison (father and Great grandfather of future presidents), a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

It must be pointed out that other stories of the origin of Taps exist. A popular one is that of a Northern boy who was killed fighting for the south. His father, Robert Ellicombe a Captain in the Union Army, came upon his son’s body on the battlefield and found the notes to Taps in a pocket of the dead boy’s Confederate uniform. When Union General Daniel Sickles heard the story, he had the notes sounded at the boy’s funeral. There is no evidence to back up the story or the existence of Captain Ellicombe. As with many other customs, this solemn tradition continues today. Although Butterfield merely revised an earlier bugle call, his role in producing those 24 notes gives him a place in the history of music as well as the history of war.

As soon as Taps was sounded that night in July 1862, words were put with the music. The first were, “Go To Sleep, Go to Sleep.” As the years went on many more versions were created. There are no official words to the music but here are some of the more popular verses:

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
God keep.
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise, For our days,
‘Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.

Jari A. Villanueva, is a bugler and bugle historian. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and Kent State University, he was the curator of the Taps Bugle Exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery from 1999-2002. He has been a member of the United States Air Force Band since 1985 and is considered the country’s foremost authority on the bugle call of Taps.

His website, includes a history of Taps, performance information and guidelines for funerals, finding buglers for sounding calls, many photos of bugles and buglers, music for bugle calls, stories and myths about Taps, Taps at the JFK funeral, ordering his 60 page booklet on Taps (24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions) and many links to bugle related sites. Jari is also working on book on the History of Bugle Call in the United States Military.

Our Flag

The Flag at Trophy Point

The Traveling Wall – who we lost in Viet Nam

wall at Trophy point     wall plus 2

wall atWest PointAcceptance of Walllooking North

Washington Hall

Washington Hall — The Cadet Dining Area, with Statue of George Washington in front and the Cadet Chapel on the rocks above.

The Cadet Mess is responsible for feeding the Corps of Cadets, and the entire Corps eats breakfast and lunch at the same time in less than 25 minutes. Cadets are seated at ten-person tables and are served hot meals family style. The messhall is decorated with various military and historic artifacts dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War. The large mural in the southwest wing depicts the history of the weapons of warfare used in the twenty most decisive battles in history as visualized by the artist, Mr. T. Loftin Johnson. When completed in 1936, it was one of the largest unbroken interior paintings in the world, with an overall surface of 2,450 square feet.

Front Entrance to Washington Hall as it was in 1958


The Mural — far wall of the Southwest wing.

Wahington Hall as it was with Col Thayer in front — prior to the addition which was required when the Corps of Cadets was expanded from 2400 to over 4,000 Cadets.



Cadet Chapels

The Cadet Chapel

see below for additionall photos of the Cadet Chapel

Catholic Chapel 1965

Jewish Chapel

The Old Cadet Chapel

The Cemetery holds many Members of the Long Gray Line

Interior of the Old Cadet Chapel

Catholic Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity – looking out over the Hudson

The Cadet Chapel Alter

The Cadet Chapel Interior

The Cadet Chapel Interior

The Cadet Chapel Interior

The Cadet Chapel Interior

The Cadet Chapel Interior

The West Point Cemetery behind The Old Cadet Chapel

Old Chapel as it once stood


chaple - completed


Hudson River to the North at Battle Monument

Sylvanus Thayer

Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, Class of 1808, served as Superintendent from 1817-1833, the longest tenure in Academy history.

Taken from the Annual Report, June 12,1922
The Life and Character of General Sylvanus Thayer

The life of Sylvanus Thayer was, from birth to death, typically American. There was no environment, I should say, anywhere else in the world that could produce such a character. His life was deep rooted in the soil of New England. He was of the seventh generation in direct line from Richard Thayer, a Puritan immigrant, who came from the parish of Thornsbury in Gloucestershire, England, and settled in Braintree, Massachusetts, about 1635. He was born in Braintree, June 9, 1785, the fifth child of Nathaniel and Dorcas Faxon Thayer, one of a family of seven children. His parents were a sober, God-fearing couple, intelligent and upright; without pretention and without humility. Theirs was a home of probity, piety, strict justice, and straight grained honesty.

The boys of Sylvanus Thayer’s day felt dimly perhaps, but certainly deeply that days of hard struggle and high achievement were before them. They sensed that a time was coming when to them should be sounded the stern admonition of the apostles: “Quit ye like men; be strong and fight.” Our Puritan forbears most assuredly were not puppets of an arbitrary control, or ritual, or pageantry of life; they early transmitted to their sons that vital lesson in democracy that they as young men should have the liberty, unhampered, to explore and bring to light, and to set in action the unfathomed mysteries of their powers.

Such a challenge came early indeed in life to young Thayer. At the tender age of eight he lost his mother. As Lincoln said of his mother years after he had lost her at a tender age, so Sylvanus Thayer might well have said through the retrospect of the years of Dorcas Faxon Thayer, “I remember her prayers. They have clung to me through life.”
The death of his mother brought a change both in his manner of living and in his place of residence; he was summoned to Washington, N. H., to live with his maternal uncle, Azariah Faxon. A few months later Thayer’s father died, and Sylvanus, a youth of nine, became prematurely the arbiter of his own future. Thus it was from early youth that grim necessity compelled him to grapple single – handed with the flintiest of hardships. The grim condition of his early life which would have depressed and broken down a weaker lad, seemed only to give greater life, vigor, and purpose to his heroic spirit. His sturdy character was forged into its final form through the fiery furnace of sharp and persistent struggle; it was hammered out under the blows of obstacles and disasters until there was at last produced that finely tempered nature of the man whose memory you and I have come so deeply to respect.

Sylvanus Thayer never got beneath his skin that vulgar idea, so prevalent today, that the world owed him a living. He was ready for every kind and quality of work. And what he did, he did with implicit obedience and ready cheerfulness. On what more substantial foundation stone could Sylvanus Thayer have based his youth than the one which rests on the gospel of work? Do you officers know of any more salutary moulder and ennobler of men? Work! It is the balm of grief; it is the cure of vice; it is the very tonic of life. Sylvanus Thayer did not know what it was to leave a task half done “because five o’clock had come and damned if he’d do another stroke.” Sylvanus Thayer rose at five, the modern workman leaves at five-when he can’t sneak off before. Charles Dudley Warner has prophesied that when labor gets to be ten dollars a day the workmen will not come at all, “they will send their cards.”

When I see about me today so many young men who are striv- ing to see how many chips of time they can shave off each end of the day and off both sides of the middle, I am thankful that I have as my beacon light the memory of the founder of the Thayer Academy. The democracy that he did his part in vitalizing came to know that the only way to do better tomorrow is to do one’s best today; and you and I know how doing better and being better were the noble objects of this freeman’s life.

I think James Russell Lowell must have had a Sylvanus Thayer in mind when he paid tribute in homely phrase

“To the high stern-featured beauty Of plain devotedness to duty.
Steadfast and still, nor paid with mortal praise But finding amplest recompense
In work done squarely and unwasted days. ”

At the age of seventeen Thayer began teaching in a New Hampshlire district school; thenceforward his ambition was to obtain a col- lege education. To this end he bent all his efforts; he mastered the rudiments of the Latin and Greek languages and the elements of mathematics, in which he excelled. He was admitted to Dartmouth College with honorable mention in September, 1803. There amid the rugged hills of Hanover he laid the foundation of a liberal education. His vigorous intellect began at once to assert itself, and he was soon one of the leaders of his class. He had competitors for highest honors, I assure you; among them I would mention particularly George Ticknor, the distinguished author, who became his life-long friend, and Joseph Bell, the eminent jurist. But Thayer surpassed them all; he earned the highest final honors and was designated to deliver the valedictory of his class.

It had been steady, persistent, intelligent, courageous work. His valedictory was not delivered! Duty had called him, as he believed, to another field of service; he had been appointed a cadet at the West Point Military Academy and the summons had come to report immediately.

Sylvanus Thayer was of the stuff of which good soldiers are made. In becoming a West Point cadet he sensed at once that he had. taken upon himself a covenant that made him, in a very special sense, a son of the nation. He seemed to realize that every act of his life would form a part of the public record of the West Point Military Academy, and that that record would be a part of the history of his country. If ever a cadet walked always and steadily in “the path of duty, virtue, and honor”, that cadet was Sylvanus Thayer. Within a year, to be exact on February 23, 1808, he was graduated from West Point, the most brilliant cadet in his class. He had been trained under the wise and efficient supervision of Colonel Williams, at that time superintendent of the Academy.

“From that date till he was called to the field in 1812” – I am quoting from General Cullum of the West Point Class of 1833 -“Syl vanus Thayer was actively employed on engineer service; in giving mathematical instruction at West Point, where he was also the Adju tant of the Academy; and upon ordnance duty, there being then scarcely an officer in our army who knew how to make even a musket cartridge.”

At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Lieutenant Thayer entered immediately into active service as an officer of engineers. He was chief engineer of the Northern army under the command of Major General Dearborn in the campaign of 1812, of the right division of the same army under command of Major General Hampton, to whom he was aide de camp in the campaign of 1813, and of the forces under command of Brigadier General Porter in the defense of Norfolk, Virginia, in 1814. “For distinguished and meritorious services” against the British in the defense of Norfolk he was brevetted a Major, February 20, 1815.

The United States government had discovered Major (General) Thayer’s marked ability and great promise. Almost immediately he was selected, with Colonel William McRee of North Carolina, to accompany Commodore Decatur’s expedition to chastise the Algerine pirates who had been preying upon American trading vessels in the Mediterranean. But happily for West Point Academy, before the expedition set sail, these two men were entrusted with the greater responsibility of studying the military systems of Europe, particularly the science of war as practised in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. A voyage of a month in the frigate Congress brought them to the English Channel. As they sailed into the Channel the news reached them that the Battle of Waterloo had been fought only two days, before! But they had the honor of riding into Paris with the staff of the Duke of Wellington. In Paris, occupied immediately after by the allied forces, they had unique opportunities for perfecting a military education by witnessing and studying daily the evolutions of the troops who had defeated Napoleon’s army on the field at Waterloo. Sylvanus Thayer spent two years in the mastering of this government trust. The military organizations of the Great Powers-their armies, their equipments, their arsenals and their military schools – were carefully examined, and the fundamentals thoroughly mastered.

Shortly after Major (General) Thayer’s return from his mission abroad, in the spring of 1817, President Monroe visited the West Point Military Academy. The President’s eyes were opened! I am adhering strictly to facts gleaned from your most trustworthy records when I summarize conditions as follows: First, nearly all the cadets were missing. Evidently they had left for the different parts of the country on furlough. Moreover, there was no registration enrollment which gave the cadet’s place of residence. When Major (General) Thayer took the helm he had actually to resort to the newspapers to advertise for the return of the cadets. Some never came back and were by order of President Monroe dismissed on March 1st of the following year.

The cadets remaining at the Academy ranged in age between 12 and 34. Some were deformed and altogether disqualified for the profession of arms. Both physical and mental examinations had been dispensed with; there was no merit list whatever. The law of 1812 regulating attendance at West Point specifically required that cadets should go “through all the classes”. Yet the evidence is conclusive that cadets at this time were becoming full fledged officers in four months’ time.

One of your former highly esteemed superintendents of the Academy summarizes conditions as follows: “Up to 1817 nothing was positive in discipline, instruction, or administration, all being conducted by a military rule rather than upon any fixed military system. As courts martial for the trial of cadets had no existence, they had no dread of punishment beyond the arbitrary awards of the commandant, and deficiency, or being turned back for neglect of studies, had never occurred; the Professors, mostly old men, had little ambition, and were in a state of chronic feud with their superior; and the control of cadets’ supplies and the care of public property was mainly in the hands of the relations and proteges of the acting superintendent, who gave to them most of the patronage of the Academy.”

President Monroe was firmly convinced that conditions were chaotic, without system or regularity in administration. He immediately took the matter in hand and scarcely a month after his visit President Monroe relieved Colonel Partridge of his superintendency and sent Major (General) Thayer to reorganize the Military School of the nation.

At this point, I wish to bring to you the admirable contrast made by General George W. Cullum, highly esteemed former superintendent of this Academy. “The officer relieved,” writes General Cullum, “and his successor in command of the Military Academy were the very antipodes of each other, and both stamped the institution with their respective characters. Partridge was ungainly in person and uncouth in manner. Thayer of heroic mould and of stately dignity; the one a martinet drill-master and contracted pedant, and the other a scientific soldier and erudite scholar; the former partial and severe by turns, the latter uniform and just in discipline; the one controlling by temporary expedients, the other administering authority with intelligent wisdom; the former everywhere present and general factotum, the latter an unseen governor steadily regulating a complex machine; and while the one with restless activity accomplished little, the other buried in his study worked out with cool composure the great problem of military education.”

We have now come to the Golden Age of the West Point Military Academy. It would be presumptuous indeed for me to attempt to discuss with authority the changes and methods introduced and successfully enforced at West Point under the leadership of Major (General) Thayer. But the hundred and more years that have elapsed since Sylvanus Thayer assumed the superintendency have firmly fixed his place in the esteem of the Academy and justly earned for him the title which crowns his memory. Time has been impartial, just, and certain in its action. And even I at the present hour, ignorant as I am of the inner life of your institution, may with confidence call attention to a few outstanding features of his leadership.

It is manifest to me that Major (General) Thayer’s work was far more than reconstruction or reform; it was a new creation of the Academy. He found when he came, to use the words of General Cullum, “a drowsy school of supine students”; he left it a great sem- inary of science and military art. It is only just to say that Major (General) Thayer gave to West Point its unique character among the educational centers of the country and laid the foundation for its wide fame.

Major (General) Thayer’s first great problem was to bring order out of chaos. His advertising in the papers for the return of cadets was, as I have already pointed out, an irregularity forced upon him by conditions.

Major (General) Thayer must have had a tremendous fight on his hands in ridding the Academy of attempted domination by members of Congress. Drawn as the cadets were from all sections of the country, appointed by the Secretary of War, on the recommendation of members of Congress, I can readily see how the interest of Congressmen persisted in their appointees. Many Congressmen insisted on seeing that justice was done their proteges in the examinations; that none were found deficient who in their judgment had the brains to pass, and that no needless severity was exercised in discipline.

A few months after his appointment as superintendent, Major (General) Thayer faced a storm cloud. One hundred and ninety four cadets denied their amenability to trial by court martial, and asserted the right of free criticism of their superior officers; they brought the matter to court. Thank God the man they dealt with had an iron will! Sylvanus Thayer knew that in ancient times a little band of Spartans had withstood a whole army. He knew that epitaph that commemorated their noble death at the pass of Thermopylae – “Go tell to Sparta, thou that passest by; That here, obedient to her laws we lie.” He did not hesitate, he did not falter. He wrote in no uncertain way to the Secretary of War that the cadet corps at West Point should form a part of the land forces of the United States and be subject to the Rules and Articles of War.

The resolute action of Sylvanus Thayer was upheld by John Calhoun. “It spelled obedience and established,” as Lieutenant General Schofield has so pertinently said, “a principle which has been of untold. value to the military service of the Republic.”

Let me say right here that insistence on obedience to law was with Sylvanus Thayer the quintessence of patriotism. He believed with all the strength of his moral fibre that in the scrupulous maintenance of our laws lay the supreme safeguard of our democratic institutions.

Major (General) Thayer never could have brought about the reorganization of West Point which he did if he had not been supported so strongly and surely by the iron minister of war, John Calhoun. I have always looked upon the eight years Calhoun served as President Monroe’s Secretary of War as the golden age of his service to the nation. At that time he looked upon the State of South Carolina and the nation as one and inseparable. He had a deep sentiment of nationality. The fact that Sylvanus Thayer was a New Englander did not bias him one jot or tittle. Calhoun’s first examination of the West Point problem developed to his mind all its conditions. He saw that the Academy, to be successful, must be placed under the dominion of law and positive regulations; and he saw at once that Sylvanus Thayer was the man to do it. A friendship sprang up which was warm and constant. Probably at no other time in the life of the Academy were intermeddling influences more strongly exerted, and at no other time were they so firmly and wisely resisted.
The course of studies which Major Thayer instituted at the Academy has, I understand, been closely followed up to the present time. Of course the steady advancement in science, and probably more improved methods of instruction, have brought about changes particularly in the departments of Mathematics and Engineering. But the organization of studies embraced all the necessary elements of a liberal education. “It was constructed”, as Professor Davies, himself a distinguished professor under Major Thayer, once remarked, “on the true principles of permanent equilibrium.”

Nothing is more admirable than the masterly way in which Major (General) Thayer surrounded himself with a group of picked men to build up the scholastic standards of the Academy. He put in the department of Natural and Experimental Philosophy, Colonel Jared Mansfield, one of the most distinguished scholars of his day; in the engineering department he placed a brilliant graduate of the schools of France. Sylvanus Thayer knew how to blend the theories of the French with the practical methods of the English. Professors Douglas, Davies, and Courtenay developed the analytical sciences; Pro- fessors Torrey, Hopkins, and Mather instructed in chemistry, miner- ology, and geology; Crozet and Mahan skillfully applied all these branches to military and civil engineering and the science of war.

“But the directing mind”, reflects General Calhoun, “was the great Superintendent himself, a ripe scholar, acquainted with every science taught, passionately fond of military literature, and singularly gifted for his elevated command.”

Morris Schaff in “The Spirit of Old West Point” pays this sterling tribute to Sylvanus Thayer: “When he left the Academy, as we all know, every feature of West Point life, and especially its martial features, were softly illuminated by the inherent glow of scholarship; not merely technical scholarship, not the patchy stenciling of pedagogy, but that deeply reflecting scholarship which comes from a mingling of science and literature with idealism.”
In bringing Major (General) Thayer’s administration at West Point to a conclusion, I want to present to you two pictures of Sylvanus Thayer, from the diary of his dear friend, Ticknor. Here they are:

June 12, 1826 – Breakfast precisely at seven; then we have all the newspapers, and, a little before eight o’clock, Thayer puts on his full dress coat and sword, and when the bugle sounds we are always at Mr. Cozzens’, where Thayer takes off his hat and inquires if the President of the Board is ready to attend at the examination room; if he is, the Commandant conducts him to it with great ceremony, followed by the Board. If he is not ready, Thayer goes without him; he waits for no man.

In the examination – room Thayer presides at one table, surrounded by the Academic Staff; General Houston at the other, surrounded by the visitors. In front of the last table, two enormous blackboards, eight feet by five, are placed on easels; and at each of these boards stand two cadets, one answering questions or demonstrating, and the other three preparing the problems that are given to them. In this way, in an examination of sixteen young men lasting four hours on one subject, each of them will have had one hour’s public examination on it; and the fact is, that each of the forty cadets in the upper class will tonight have had about five hours’ personal examination. While the examination goes on, one person sits between the tables and asks questions, but other members of the Staff and of the Board join in the examination frequently, as their interest moves them. The young men have that composure that comes from thoroughness, and unite, to a remarkable degree, ease with respectful manners towards their teachers.

June 17th – Thayer is a wonderful man. In the course of the fortnight I have been here, he has every morning been in his office doing business from six to seven o’clock; from seven to eight he breakfasts, generally with company; then he goes to the examination – room, and for five complete hours never so much as rises from his chair. From one to three he has his dinner party; from three to seven again unmoved in his chair, though he is neither stiff nor pretending about it. At seven he goes on parade; from half-past seven to eight does business with the cadets, and from eight to nine, or even till eleven, he is liable to have meetings with the Academic Staff. Yet with all this labor, and the whole responsibility of the institution, the examination, and the accommodation of the visitors, on his hands, he is always fresh, prompt, ready, and pleasant; never fails to receive me under all cir- cumstances with the same unencumbered and affectionate manner, and seems, in short, as if he were more of a spectator than I am. I do not believe there are three persons in the country who could fill his place; and Totten said very well the other day, when somebody told him – what is no doubt true – that if Thayer were to resign, he would be the only man who. could take his place – “No, no man would be indiscreet enough to take the place after Thayer; it would be as bad as being President of the Royal Society after Newton.”

Time forbids me to trace the honorable career of Sylvanus Thayer after he left the Academy, which he had so faithfully served for 16 years. He was immediately appointed to take charge of the fortifications between Boston and the British provinces. In December, 1843, he went a second time to Europe, under a commission from the government, to examine the state of military science and the fortifications on that continent. You know how he returned to this country and how the colleges of the land united to do him honor. In 1846. Dartmouth College conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws; five years later Harvard College conferred a like degree. Throughout these years he was an esteemed member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. He retired from active service June 1, 1863, his name having been borne in the army register more than 45 years. Two days before his retirement he was brevetted a Brigadier General. In 1867 he generously remembered his Alma Mater by founding at Dartmouth College the Thayer School of Engineering.

Slowly his life grew old and rich like wine. When lengthening shadows marked the evening of his day, how natural and fine it was for him to return to the town of his birth in the land of New England that he loved so well. I can see him in his garden close to the soil, starting his hoeing with the streaks of dawn. I can see him remind- ing his leisurely workmen that the donning of their overalls was not a part of the day’s job in his garden. I can see the look of disgust that swept across his rugged face as he rebuked the politician who came to curry favor with him with the crisp comment, “I will never shake hands with a dishonest man.” I can see his set expression when he first surveyed that load of oak wood ordered for the fireplace and discovered crooked sticks among them. Can’t you hear him say, “I did not order crooked wood. I want straight sticks. Send the crooked things back and bring me straight ones.” How he hated sham! How he detested crooked things! I can see him bending over the big antique mahogany table in his study on which are spread plans and maps of the Civil War. Beside him are his lifelong friends, Winfield Scott, Ticknor, and Mahan. Too old for active service General Thayer is now the master adviser of the Northern Army, using every ounce of effort to preserve the Union cause. A sturdy patriot, a staunch defender of Abraham Lincoln. Finally, I can see him, before his earthly labors ended, preparing, out of the bigness of his heart and with a delicate sense of honor, his last will and testament. If ever the face of a man writing noble and generous words glowed with a solemn joy, it must have been the face of Sylvanus Thayer, as he wrought into shape the disposition of those legacies accumulated through years of self denial for friends, relatives, and the generations yet to be.

The richest legacy he left was for the founding, of a school in his native town-a school that should offer to the youth the opportunity to rise through the pursuit of duty, industry, and honor, from small beginnings, to honorable achievements. On the site of his home in Braintree the Thayer Academy was reared.

To his parent earth, near his father’s grave, Sylvanus Thayer was laid to rest in the Old North Braintree cemetery. Simply and appropriately priately he was buried there. But you also revered his memory, and five years later you demanded the earthly tenement of the master soul of this great and good man, “the Father” of your Academy. May you vow a more tender veneration for his memory as you recall how he loved, revered, and served the West Point Military Academy. He set before you the standard of honor – it is nowhere higher; he laid deep the foundation of respect and reverence for law and liberty; he taught you by precept and example how a soldier and a citizen should live; he made his life the incarnation of the delicate honor of honesty. He taught you that the supreme test of life is its consecrated service ableness. These are the foundations of your faith and mine.

God’s naked truth can never injure the fame of such a master buider.

Known as the “father of the Military Academy,” Thayer put his mark on this institution to a greater extent than any other individual. He strengthened the caliber of the faculty and quality of the academic instruction, brought discipline to the military environment and recognized the importance of instilling honor and integrity in cadets.

The Thayer Monument, erected in 1883, was sculpted by Carl Conrad 50 years after Thayer’s departure as Superintendent





In the closing days of World War II, Brigadier General Charles Canham, then assistant division commander of the 8th Infantry Division, was about to receive the surrender of a German Unit.

“I’m here to receive your surrender,” he told the three- star German commander, who replied “I won’t surrender until I see your credentials”.

Canham gestured to the Riflemen accompanying him:

“These are my credentials.”

Founders of Rugby at West Point — The Army Rugby Team – Spring of 1962:

The Class of 1962 are the Founders of Rugby at West Point. One of those first “Can Do” Rugby players was to become Army Chief of Staff. He understood the profound significance of General Canham’s response …. and the sacred and inherent obligation officers have to the soldiers under their command.

Currently the only names listed are Class of 1962 – The Can Do Class.

Extreme upper left in soccer uniform – Coach “Ric Cesped”;
70 John Taylor – Founder; 6X Mike Schredl – Left Prop; 65 Dean Stanley; XX Denis Reimer – Right Prop;
62 George Tank Telenko – RFC Scrum Lock; 40 Bob DeVries (Left Wing); 20 Bill Scherr – Scrum Half; 44 Russ DeVries (Right Wing); 93 Dick DuncanDave Mundt not in Team picture due to injury. Paul McNamara (Right Wing) also not in Team picture.

Probably Ric Cesped standing and Russ DeVries #44

John Taylor Class of ’62 the driving force in founding Rugby, dedicates what Rugby is in 2008/2009 to our Classmate “Ric Cesped” Rugby’s First Coach:
Rugby at West Point – An Article from the Irish Times – Saturday Dec 2008

!New! Army RUGBY ALUMNI page:

Click on “Photos”
to see some 70 photos from the decade pages:

Army Rugby, 60s
Army Rugby, 70s
Army Rugby, 80s
Army Rugby, 90s

Army Rugby, 00s

More photos and information are welcomed – send to

Note- These photos were once hosted by USCC but are no longer available at the Rugby club page. However, if you want to follow the current Men’s and Women’s Army Rugby teams i.e. view roster, schedule etc. (current as of 2013) go to:
click on Competitive Sports for Men’s and Women’s Rugby:

West Point Rugby on Facebook

West Point Women’s Rugby on Facebook:

The First Army Men’s Rugby Team – 1961

The Early Years: It was gloom period 1961. Since the previous summer John Taylor ’62 was intent in bringing the game of rugby-football to West Point. He knew that once started it would spread like wildfire adding to the long tradition of leaning how to win by competing in the fields of friendly strife. He faced a tough challenge. Little support from organized sports at the Academy, no funds, no experienced players, no coach, and no fields to call home. John persisted against all odds. He got the support of Pete Dawkins, who had made fame first as an All-American Football player and later as a successful rugby player while at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. He gathered positive feedback from the Corps, Finally John received a personal letter from General “William Westmoreland”, the Superintendent, authorizing the formation of a Class B competitive Club.
From the surveys that John conducted he learned of a classmate from Chile, “Ric Cesped”, who had played rugby. I first met John in March 1961. John infected me with his enthusiasm to add rugby-football to the sports practiced at West Point. Would I coach? Coaching was an art about which I knew nothing – although I had been blessed with wonderful coaches in my life. My rugby experienced was limited to playing wing forward for 6 years at the Grange School, an English Boarding School in Chile, with some success as a player. To coach in English, my second language was a daunting thought. But I could not refuse John’s request and thus I joined him in starting the Army Rugby-Football Club and in creating the first team of what would become the seed to the most successful sport in the history of West Point.
Authorized to start the Club John, raised enough funds to buy a few rugby balls, whistles, and rulebooks. In recalling those early days Bill Scherr ’62, Army Rugby’s first great scrum half recalls… (our first practices we didn’t have uniforms. During practices, half of us had to turn our USMA Sweat Shirts inside out to distinguish the two sides. One afternoon, walking back to the barracks after practice, I was written up by the OIC for being out of uniform because I was wearing my muddy sweatshirt inside out. My understanding TAC threw it out). Later, Coach Palone loaned us Army soccer equipment and much came from the B football team. We were assigned the furthest-most field on Post (Target Field located by the Hudson River) where only the NYC railroad trains would visit us, once in a while. If you got injured, your teammates would have to carry you back. John took the lead on all administrative tasks and in learning how to finds rugby teams to challenge. He also played whenever and wherever there was a need. At the time, rugby in the USA was played mainly in Ivy League schools, in the West Coast at Stanford and Cal, and by Clubs formed mostly by immigrant enthusiasts from traditional rugby countries like England, Ireland, France, Australia and South Africa. The Rugby Clubs were the best teams around and were known for having the best party traditions in American sport circles.
Those who volunteered to start the Rugby Club finally gathered at our lonely playing field. About 40 cadets from all four classes showed up on that cold April day. Their backgrounds were B squad football, 150 lb. football, soccer, and ice hockey and intramurder jocks. Not one of the prospective players knew what rugby was all about. Within minutes John and I realized that creating a respectful Army rugby team would be a bigger challenge than we ever imagined, specially doing so safely and without serious injury. Learning the basics on how to tackle (not block), how to use your feet (after all the game is called rugby-football because the feet play an important part in winning the game), how to constantly pass the ball to your team-mates (and not hang-on to the ball while trying to gain as many yards as possible), how to play without rest in 45 minutes halves, how to form loose scrums to retain control of the ball, etc would be the key to our mission… and so, we started with the basics. But the volunteers wanted to “play” the game, and so, we started playing a little at a time, with the one practice ball we had, selecting in the process an A and a B team, without regards to class standing, and without loosing focus of the need to master the basics. We all learned at the same time, not only how to play the game but how to do a better job of coaching the game and administering the emerging organization. By late April 1961 we were ready to try our new skills, against one of the best rugby clubs in the East — the Westchester NY Rugby Club (NYRC). It would be a learning experience — Army lost, but the score was very close, and our heads were held high. In the process, we gained confidence and we became a better team. Rugby had become part of our life at West Point.
In our second year, spring 1962, we again focused on the basics while learning to improve our teamwork. John had organized a full schedule of games ending the season with a match against “our teachers of an earlier year… the Westchester NYRC. We started fielding one team. We had about 40 – 50 club members by then. General “William Westmoreland” and his wife took interest in our Club and we got more support including a medic and an ambulance in case of serious injury. Once in a while they would show up during practice and encourage us on.
We became a pretty good team, blessed with tons of enthusiasm, lots of energy and speed, fearless low tackling, a serious lack of weight and size in the forward line, and an incredible “Can Do” attitude. We needed no coaching in having a good time together or in partying in NYC when we played away. Lack of discipline in our trips was noted by the Sup. As the team departed for NYC to play Columbia it was stopped by the MPs and returned to barracks for inspection, by General Westmoreland, no less. The bus commander, Mike Schredl ’62, was requested to call him at his quarters on the team’s return to WP. In Mike’s words… “When I called him at home that Sunday evening and told him that we lost, I was expecting disciplinary action. I had visions of a 15&15 and possibly a delayed graduation. Completely opposite of the tact taken when inspecting us he expressed his sorrow over our loss and then complemented us for a good season. I am sure that he sensed the anxiety in my voice. He then commended me for seating at the front of the bus and explained that good leaders lead by example and are highly visible but, at the same time, are always aware of what the troops in the back are doing. I found General Westmoreland to be a warm, caring and compassionate man and he then told that there would be no further actions taken….”
Our second season was our first winning season. We had lost only one game by the time we again met the NYRC. It was Saturday, May 12, 1962 when we were scheduled to play the NYRC, our last game of the season. That same day General Douglas MacArthur would make his famous trip to West Point to deliver his last speech to the Corps of Cadets. (“Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be duty, honor, country….Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the corps, and the corps, and the corps. I bid you farewell.”) No doubt, MacArthur’s speech had a profound impact on all of us. Maybe it was listening to the author of such inspiring words. Maybe it was just what West Point is all about. On that day, the Army Rugby-Football team would play and beat the best team in the Country, giving those who would follow us the legacy that our rugby team was destined to stand not only among the best in America, but ultimately rank with the best in the world.
Success in the rugby fields requires total commitment to teamwork and rarely one player makes the difference, perhaps with one exception –the fullback position. This is the last line of defense, the one person who has … to stop the hordes at the gate…. and we were blessed by the best fullback in the Eastern Rugby League — Rizzio, who knew no fear and kept the opponents from scoring in numerous occasions. He would be selected to the All Eastern Rugby Team to play the All Canada Rugby team.
A few weeks later, the oldest of the Founding Classes would graduate. On June 6, 1962 we bid a fond adieu to some of the best friends we made while at the Academy, our Rugby-Football teammates.

Written by Ricardo E Cesped, First Army Rugby Coach, with invaluable help from John Taylor and many members of the Founder’s Team June 2003
This rememberance is also posted at:

The First Women’s Rugby Team – 2003

Just as John Taylor 62′ and the members of the first men’s Rugby Team experienced a difficult start so did “Kafi Joseph” 03′ and the members of the first Women’s Rugby Team. There was little support from the Corps Squads, no funds, no coach, no field to call home, and no experienced players. Kafi received verbal approval from the Commandant, General Brook after obtaining a very positive commitment from the Corps of Cadets.
Women’s Rugby received the official sanction to become an Army Club sport when, despite three feet of snow on the ground, the newly formed team played a scrimmage to demonstrate their determination to compete at the intercollegiate level. The Charter was signed immediately – probably November 2002.
After a practice session in Ike Hall, we didn’t have dedicated practice space and at times had to practice in the ball room and ran laps around the upper floor of Ike Hall. The second is after our first Victory, which was against Rutgers.

The Second Year

Their 2d season was a winning season just as with the Men’s Team 41 years before.
The Team won the MET-NY Championship, defeating the previous six-time champions in the process. The Team’s early accomplishments also include beating Navy 31 to 3 (2004), placing 3rd at the DC Cherry Blossom Tournament, and sending 6 ruggers to the NERFU U-23 team tryouts and had a player selected for the U-19 development camp. Women’s Army Rugby has continued to pursue excellence in its trips to Ireland, where the team took on the Women’s Irish Defense Forces team, and to San Diego, where they finished first in the Champagne Classic.
“Kafi Joseph”

Good Afternoon! I am Kafi Joseph, founder of Women’s Army Rugby – I wanted to add a submission to the Women’s Rugby portion of the page. A lot of folks don’t know how the Women’s team got it’s name and I’d like to contribute that, if I may.
Women’s Army Rugby – W.A.R…Declare It!
“W.A.R. is about Desire…W.A.R. is about Leadership…W.A.R. is about Camaraderie…W.A.R. is building and leaving a tradition for future W.A.R.riors to live up to.”
Above are excerpts from the Original W.A.R.rior Creed drafted by the Founding Forty (and original members of the first team) after spending hours of in a Washington Hall Lecture Room. It is those words that highlight the VERY reasons why we call ourselves “W.A.R.” and the essence behind why we “Declare It!”
For those that don’t know, here’s a W.A.R. Story (aka history about the team and its name):
As you may or may not know, the men’s rugby team calls themselves “the Brothers” which is derived from a the speech given by King Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt in the Hundred Years War. There is a particular segment of that speech around which the Men’s Rugby Team rallies. It reads:
“…We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother;”
When we (the women’s rugby team) were deciding on a name, in one of the Mac Long day rooms, we KNEW wanted something just as powerful as the “Brothers shedding blood together in pursuit of victory” around which we could also rally. While the thought of naming ourselves the “Sisters” crossed our minds, there was nothing in a simple sisterhood that specifically tied us to being Soldiers, being ruggers…then Gennelle Lee looking at the folder I was holding saw the words written on it as such:
Women’s Army Rugby
And exclaimed, “What about W.A.R.?!” And that was it for us…we coined the phrase “Declare It!” as our battle-cry (and pre-game chant) because each time you step on the the pitch you are facing an opponent, you are battling for victory! We affectionately reffered to members of the team as W.A.R.riors and we drafted the WARriors Creed…which was no accident. We hammered out that ENTIRE W.A.R.rior’s Creed to leave behind as a legacy, as the beginning of a TRADITION…
Those who do not know the history behind the name, think of it as simply a slogan, but for those that are WARriors – we benefit from the bonds of friendship and camraderie that has been borne from this team; we know that these bonds won’t be broken in the years to come BECAUSE of this team; and understand in part, that is due to “Declaring It” and being WARriors.

W.A.R. is not just a name, it IS a TRADITION and we are WARriors now and we always will be.

The Women’s Rugby Creed

USMA ’03

Anderson Rugby Complex

On May 12, 2007 Army’s Anderson Rugby Complex was dedicated at a ceremony attended by the principal donors, officials from West Point and from the Association of Graduates, many Old Grads who played rugby while cadets at West Point, friends of West Point and both men and women cadets who are members of the 2007 Army Rugby teams.

Saturday May 12 2007 was exactly 45 years since General Douglas MacArthur delivered his famous speech to the Corps of Cadets on the occasion of his accepting the prestigious Thayer Award.

It was also the day when the first Army Rugby team beat the then best rugby team in the nation launching what would become the most successful sport in West Point history.
The new Anderson Rugby Complex is a spectacular sports facility and the best of its kind in the Nation. The day was one to remember. The weather made for a perfect spring day. West Point and all that it stands for was at its very best.

The Founding Members made the decision to not include the Train as part of the Rugby Page. I like Trains and as Editor I decided to include the Train. The rails run along the west side of the Hudson through a tunnel under the Plain and rail traffic is a part of Rugby.

The 2007/2008 Army Women’s Rugby Team

2007/2008 Women’s Annual Snow Game

U.S. National Collegiate Championships – Army

In 1980 the USA Rugby Collegiate Championship playoff system was established. Since then, the Army Rugby team has qualified for every Sweet 16 tournament and has also reached more than ten Final Fours. The Army Rugby team has finished second in the nation 3 times. 2 Army Rugby players have played for the Eagles, and 6 players earned All American honors.

Club Honors
1989 D1 Collegiate Championship- 3d place
1990 D1 Collegiate Championship- Runner-up
Air Force 18, ARMY 12
1991 D1 Collegiate Championship- Runner-up
California 20, ARMY 14
1992 D1 Collegiate Championship- Runner-up
California 27, ARMY 17
1995 D1 Collegiate Championship- 4th place
1999 D1 Collegiate Championship- 4th place
2000 D1 Collegiate Championship- 3d place
2001 D1 Collegiate Championship- 4th place
2002 D1 Collegiate Championship- 3d place
2003 D1 Collegiate Championship- 4th place
2009 D1 Collegiate Championship- Semifinals
2010 D1 Collegiate Championship- Semifinals
“Division 1-A Rugby (formerly known as the College Premier Division) is the highest level of college rugby within the United States and is administered by USA Rugby….The competition’s first season was played during 2011 and consisted of teams from 31 schools from across the United States.”
2011 D1 Rugby East Conference Champion
2011 D1 Collegiate Championship- Quarterfinals
2012 D1 Rugby East Conference Champion
2012 D1 Collegiate Championship- Quarterfinals
2013 D1 Rugby East Conference Champion
2013 D1 Collegiate Championship- Quarterfinals


2011 – Army 33, Penn State 29 – NATIONAL CHAMPS!

USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship


2011 – ARMY 14 – Penn State 5 – NATIONAL CHAMPS!
Army beat Penn State 14-5 in the women’s title game of the 2011 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championships

2010 – Quaterfinals
2011 – Dartmouth 32 – ARMY 10 – 2nd
2012 – Quarterfinals



All Americans
1994 Jon “Petro” Petrucelli (No.8, Lock, Prop)
1996 Jason Jerreris (Inside Center)
1996 Justin “JP” Pelkey (Lock)
1996 Austin White (No. 8)
2006 Andrew Lock (Flyhalf)
2013 Will Holder (Flyhalf)

All Army
1980 Mike Stephenson
1986 Wade Jost
1987 Dave Duffy
1988 Mike Tetu
1988 Brian Mennes
1996 Dave Averett
1996 Jack Senneff
1996 Justin “JP” Pelkey
1998 Thomas “TJ” Iak
2007 Andy Locke

USA Eagles
Anthony M. Ridnell ’82: 14 starts from 1987-1993
Will Holder ’13: 1 start from 2012-

2009 – someone please identify this brother!


Work Area below this Point

1 – This page needs a lot of work. Anyone who has ideas on how best to organize the Rugby section – Please advise. Click on 1915 and 1962 for a method. Everything is tossed together for now so it is not lost. The ’62 page along with the photos of the Anderson Rugby Complex (with approval of his Class) should go on the first page with links to the other classes — or it could be set up similiar to the 150, Lightweight, Sprint Football page.

So as not to confuse CLICK ON — 1915 1962 and 150, Lightweight, Sprint Football

2 – Kafi ’03
P.S. – I will scan and send you a copy of the original W.A.R.rior Creed for the website as well as a picture of the founding 40. I would like my individual picture replaced with the team pic because I could not have done this without my fellow W.A.R.riors.
Attached is a scan of the WARrior Creed…and 2 pics of the Founding Team. The first is after a practice session in Ike Hall, we didn’t have dedicated practice space and at times had to practice in the ball room and ran laps around the upper floor of Ike Hall. The second is after our first Victory, which was against Rutgers. While it is much “cooler” looking, the picture you have on the website is not actually of the founding team, but of the second team.

WRT dates…I guess I’m officially “old” as I can’t recall actual dates…I believe we picked the name around the time we were “officially” authorized by Gen Brooks. The official birth month and year we give the team is Nov 2002. None of can really remember the actual date…

As far as ideas for organizing the Rugby page…I believe that telling the men’s story with a segue to the women’s team established 40 + years later is great. I’ll chew on it some more ad get back with you? Hopefully before your backlog is relieved
Thanks again,

3 – Russ Grimm’76
Page updated on 05/23/13 with links to the new Army Rugby Alumni, which enables access to 70 some photos previously on the now defunct USCC hosted-page, Facebook links, and Club records added. I also re-ordered this page for readability and “flow” – i.e. removed duplicate pics. No text was changed. However, if there are strong objections to my reorganization (assumed from mandate above) – I can and will resubmit the older html file I have saved in Stories.

Flirtation Walk

Entrance to Flirtation Walk which runs along the Hudson River shore line below the Plain. Cadets and their Dates are the only ones allow access to Flirtation Walk. Photo faces South

Kissing Rock

17 Steps to Sherdian

Thayer Hall in the distance

The River can be seen running Southward beyond the Arch.

Captured Cannon at Trophy Point

The Post Signal Gun can be seen on the right

Major General John Sedgwick

This memorial to Major General John Sedgwick from the members of his last command, the 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, was dedicated in 1868.

Sedgwick was an 1837 USMA graduate who fought in many of the major battles of the Mexican War.

During the Civil War Battle of the Wilderness, he rallied his soldiers to victory. Sedgwick was later killed at the Battle of Spottsylvania in 1864.

His statue reportedly was cast from the Confederate cannon captured by his 6th Corps.

There is Tradition in the Corps of Cadets – spinning his spurs at Midnight by a Cadet in Full Dress will bring success in Final Exams.

For further information go to Historic Structures Inventory Volume 2 Part 1 Frame 72 & 74 by clicking on the link below

Battle Monument

The most prominent and majestic monument at the Academy is Battle Monument. Located at Trophy Point, it was dedicated in 1897 —

“In memory of the officers and men of the American Army who fell in battle”.

Specifically it Honors the Regular Army casualties of the North during the Civil War.

The shaft is reportedly the largest polished granite shaft in the Western Hemisphere. Some 2,230 names are inscribed on it. The figure at the top is “Lady Fame” or “Victory”.

The view is looking East. The Statue in the lower right is of George Washington which originally sat at the Northeast Corner of the Plain before being moved to its present location in front of Washington Hall, the Academy Dining Facility

The Photo to the right was taken in 1952

For further information go to Histopric Structures Inventory Volume 2 Part 1 Frame 89 by clicking on the link below

West Point

Taken from the 1919 AOG Report

New Library Under Construction

The Academy December 1960

Looking North up the Hudson taken in mid 60s. Constitution Island is center right.

Early 1960

As much as West Point changes — it remains the same.

It appears that the South Wing of Central Area is under construction
south wing of C A not complete

Probably the Encampment

West Accademic bld

Original Riding Hall
old riding hall

Thayer Hall prior to conversion to AcademicsCadets -now Thayer

Post Headquarters
Post Hq

Parade Fall of 2007