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councils of the nation, and not only refuses relief to the sufferers, but recklessly tramples upon the most sacred feelings of humanity by a cowardly insult of the dead. Is this generous ? Is it just? Is it human ?
“But I would ask, why are the events of Florida laid to the charge of the graduates of the Military Academy? The gallant and unfortunate Dade was not a graduate, neither is General Clinch. The secretary of war is not one of its graduates, and it is known that the present general in chief could not establish a claim to be ranked among them. Scott, honoured and respected as he truly is by every true soldier, for the zeal and ability with which he has advanced military science in our army, is not a graduate ; and in fact there is hardly an officer above the grade of a captain at this moment with the troops on that expedition who was ever within the walls of the school. What, then, may I again ask, is to be laid to the charge of the graduates in this affair? In what duty have they been wanting there? Who were the victims of the Wytblacoochee butchery? Four of them were mere boys, hardly yet habituated to the strange feeling of their epaulettes. Did they turn their backs upon their foe? Did they evince any unmanly signs of dismay in the awful moment when death was inevitable? What was the conduct of the privates under their charge? Read the simple statement of almost the only eyewitness of that massacre who escaped! Read the official relation of those who gathered up the remains on the bloody field of action. "The officers and men were found lying side by side as they were successively shot down.' Where, sir, is there another instance on record of more confidence shown by the common soldier in his commanders than in this? Is it necessary to tell you, or any man, sir, how this delicate plant, confidence, is nurtured and brought into maturity, as we see it exhibited in this case ?
"In General Clinch's action, who were the sufferers ? Let his own bulletin bear witness. In the leaguer of General Gaines we find two officers alone, both graduates, among the injured. The gallant Izard, than whom a truer soldier never bared his breast in his country's defence, fell a victim to his own gallantry, and was found, where every comrade of his would have looked for him, on the battle ground of the advanced guard. If these, sir, are the deeds of old women, may Providence, in its wisdom, always inspire our men with a portion of such weakness !
“It is painful, sir, to every soldier of proper sensibilities, to vauot the deeds even of a comrade to the private citizen. But what alternative is now left to the graduates after the repeated illiberal attacks made upon them in both houses of congress, when no one upon those floors volunteers one word in their defence ?' The care of the reputation of the living may be well left to themselves, but it is a holy duty to shield the character of the gallant dead from the unmerited aspersions of those who are craven enough ia spirit to attack their ashes. Our Military Academy dates but of yesterday, and yet the deeds of the children, though still in their childhood, may be cited without any fear of disgracing their Alma Mater. The events of our last struggle with England are now nearly effaced from the recollection of the present generation, and are seldom adverted to, except to manufacture some political hero'; still, at that early period of its infancy, there are names whose memory the soldier loves to cherish. Those of Wood and Gibson are connected with the best defence and one of the most gallant deeds of the war-the seige and sortie of Fort Erie. They both fell in leading on their columns against the enemy's trenches. Besides these, the rolls of the school bear the names of several others who but exchanged the walls of their Alma Mater for the short shrift and hasty burial of the battle field.” pp. 6—8.
We have now proceeded through the examination of the branches of the subject in the order naturally marked out for it; and during the course of our remarks we have been obliged briefly but comprehensively to compare the advantages and disadvantages of the institution in reference to its own peculiar organization, and its effects upon the people and the country at large. After the testimony which has been elicited in its favour, and which we have hastily glanced at rather than gathered together, it would seem strange to one not specially acquainted with the topic, that so useful and praiseworthy an establishment, in which it would appear to be but natural that all sections and classes of our citizens should take a deep and abiding interest, should have met with bitter enemies, and the question at once occurs, what can have aroused their hostile feelings, and called forth their reprehension? The explanation of this state of things developes motives and causes, partly natural, and, to a certain extent, for that reason excusable, though erroneous, and partly censurable in the highest degree, because of the source from which they have sprung. Public opinion is an ordeal, like a fiery furnace, which sometimes consumes the major good, while intended only to destroy the minor bad. That which by its own inherent virtue is made to pass through this severe test
, and yet retains vitality, as in this instance, must surely in the end attain indestructibleness. The fuel with which popular feeling is oft-times supplied, is accidental error as well as wilful misrepresentation, and of this the case before us is an illustration. Much of the opposition to this school has arisen in the newly settled western states. The habits of many of those who by their age necessarily have a voice in the state and national councils of the present day, were of an active military character, proceeding from early contests with the Indians, who clung with desperation to the soil of their fathers, and from participation in the hunt and the chase, incident to a life in the woods. Hence ensued a military spirit, enthusiastic and often powerfully efficient, but impatient of that discipline and restraint which designate the well-trained soldier. The same feeling has descended from sire to son, and the similarity of characteristics, from so intimate a connection, is perceptible in whole districts in the west. We are incapable of disparaging the patriotism or the proud services rendered by our western brethren, and we trust we incur no such charge in stating what we believe to be the natural effects from evident causes. In our view of the latter, we are borne out by history. As an illustration, it is sufficient to refer to its record of the discontents and insubordination in General Jackson's army of volunteers and militia in his celebrated campaign against the Creeks and Cherokees in 1813, which nothing but the energy of such a leader
could have mastered, and which were well nigh frustrating those victories, memorable for their brilliancy, as well as for their signal good effects. The result is, that this state of feeling has given rise to a partial prejudice against the disciplined and educated soldier, coming from that school in which obedience is taught to be the initiative test of a capacity for command, and, by an obvious transition, this feeling has extended to the academy itself. A second cause of hostility arose from the fact, that in the early history of the institution the eastern states had an undue proportion of their youth under its care. That cause of complaint has for several years past been removed, and an equal distribution of appointments has been made, which fact, it would seem to be reasonable, ought to remove all heart-burnings on this score. But another, and more powerful, because mure direct cause of adverse feeling, consists in the number of youths from the western states, who have been either found incompetent for admission under the requisitions of the law, or who, after admission, have been discharged for demerit of conduct or inaptitude. The want of good schools of ordinary grade in the south and west for many years, is too well known to require more particular detail. From this cause it frequently happened that young men came to the academy unable to read or write, or sadly deficient in the ground rules of arithmetic. The necessity of this preparatory knowledge it is unnecessary to enforce, and the appointees were of course rejected. From a similar cause, too, many of our youths of the west, after admission, became impatient of the severe but monotonous toil, and systematic discipline of the school, till hurried away by temptations, too strong for the force of their early habits to overcome, they violated some important regulation which required dismissal. Our remark, we take occasion in passing to say, is not exclusively applicable to the western youth, but the justice of the dismissals seems less to have been acquiesced in, in the west than in the east. The consequence of all this was the engendering of an adverse sentiment in the minds of some portion of our occidental brethren, as we occasionally see it manifest in congress and elsewhere, but which we trust is passing away under the influence of the tardy but sure operations of truth. The last cause of this hostility which it is worth our while to notice, is the offspring of mere political “hobby-horseism," unreined by even the slightest regard to the merits of the question, except so far as they may be used to answer the ends of personal notoriety, and ridden so ruthlessly as to spare no single condition of the establishment. It is in this respect that the countless charges against an aristocratical and extravagant national university, and privileged classes, as well as in favour of republican principles, a soldiery of the moment, and equality of rights, are
rung, in the hope that it may sound in the popular ear an alarm to their patriotism and democracy. This sin against the cause of truth must go unwhipped of justice, until the people themselves shall apply the merited castigation to its perpetratorsma task to which it is our desire to invite them in the present review of the subject.
But, while we render our testimony in favour of the merits and excellent results of the academy, and its organization in general, we are not to be understood as saying that the institution has arrived at such absolute perfection as to be incapable of improvement in any respect. All human provisions, made with a view to a general object, must, of necessity, be subject to amendment. This, however, is best applied when the infallible test of experience has discovered the defects, but, in removing the latter, there is no occasion to destroy the whole fabric. In addition to the alteration in the constitution of the board of visitors already suggested, it would seem advisable that the appointing power should be exercised differently than it is at present. The whole country has a deep interest in the institution, and all possibility of favouritism in the selection of youths as cadets should be removed. Appointments are now made by the war department according to the ratio of representation of each state and territory, and, as to the individuals, upon the recommendations of the delegations in congress. We do not like that the selections should, in point of fact, reside with the latter, because they are not governed by any general principles, except, perhaps, those of political influence and private friendship. Let a law of congress be passed providing for the nomination of candidates by the several states and territories ; and let the legislatures of the latter provide for the selection of the candidates from lists of applicants for the current year by lot. This selection, by lot or chance, can be conducted by any officers whom the legislatures may designate, or by committees of their own body, or in any mode which will best attain the object. None can then have ground for complaint of the exercise of favouritism ; nor can the political complexion of the nominating power have the slightest influence in determining who shall be the nominees.
We further entertain the opinion that the course of instruction should be more extended, so as to afford a greater degree of practice in some of the branches than exists at present. To a certain extent, the school is practical in its character, of which the instruction in infantry and artillery tactics, pyrotechny, and camp duties, is an illustration. But great advantages would result from the extension of this kind of tuition to other branches. For instance, the student should not only be familiar with the mode of constructing a gun.carriage, but should be made to
construct it himself. The pupils of the Woolwich Academy make many of the carriages which actually are afterwards used in the British service. In the construction of fortifications, temporary bridges, and many of the subjects involved in military engineering,' too, there is ample space at West Point for practical lessons. There is a suggestion in the report of the board of visitors for 1837, which is also worthy the attention of the war department. The importance of a cabinet of specimens to the student of geology and mineralogy is universally admitted. The collection at West Point is perhaps large enough for the purposes of ordinary instruction. But no other place in the United States possesses equal advantages for the collection of an extensive mineralogical and geological cabinet at a small expense. If the war department were to invite the officers of the army stationed at the various military posts scattered over our immense territory, to collect and send specimens in aid of the cabinet at the Point, the collection would rapidly increase. The graduates themselves, as they enter the army, most probably would lend their aid in furtherance of this plan, and thus a very extensive and valuable cabinet would be formed.
Having now reviewed the subject as far as our limits will permit, we cannot conclude without invoking for the military academy the favourable regard of our citizens of all classes and sections. Wherever an evil can be found to exist, let a remedy be provided, but let the establishment be fostered. Let us remember that there was a time when the officer of a foreign country was considered, by virtue of his military education, an acquisition to our service; when courts-martial in the army were exhibiting continual deviations from the true line of soldierly and manly conduct; when the title of officer was no guarantee of the moral character of the man, and the circles, not merely of fashionable life, but of that society which is composed of the moral and the prudent, were not open to the owner of a commission ; when default, in a pecuniary point of view, in relation to the public funds, was no uncommon occurrence in the service; and when striking instances of insubordination and incompetence disgraced our arms. Let us then look upon the contrast exhibited by the officers of the present day. The army is mostly supplied with officers of the lower grades from this academy. Scarcely a foreigner wearing an epaulette is to be
I Since this article was in type, one on " Military Reform," in the London and Westmin. ster Review, for April, 1837, just come to hand, has met our eye (Art III The reviewer denies that the Woolwich school has ever done for England what the Polytechnic has done for France, and asserts that, even under the modern organization of the former, its character is not sufficiently practical. Upon this point he contends, in which to a certain extent we agree with him, that the course of instruction in a military academy should comprehend “fortifica. tion, permanent and field, the latter on the ground as well as on paper; military reconnois. sances, and the mode of laying them down; the practice of artillery in all its numerous branches; the casting and boring of guns; all the details of carriage making; all laboratory business, &c.; and the cadets ought to work with their own hands at all this."
VOL. XXII.-NOG 43. 17