Imágenes de página



the colonel's epitaph. After this, I returned to New York.

"Yet why repine? does not the Lord of Heaven

Decree to all their portion here below?
For not by chance, but by His hand is given
Our various fortune, whether weal or woe.
Oft does His gracious providence bestow
A thousand tender mercies on mankind;

From Him alone our joys and comforts flow!
Then man should still be humble and resign'd,
And let Religion's balm for ever soothe his mind.”


Leave New York to visit West Point.-The frozen Hudson.

The Military Academy. The course of Study. The Classes. Artillery Cadets.-Subsistence of Cadets.-Confinement to Halls of Study.-— Excesses. - Effects of the Ordeal at West Point.-The Army of the United States.— Artillery and Infantry. The Ordnance. - Major-General Macomb.-Military Chiefs.-The Staff of the Army.-Desertions and Enlistments.-The Privates. Moral Culture neglected. The Non-commissioned Officers.-Intemperance. -Uniform of the American Army.-Temptations to belong to it. Military experience of a young Artillerist.-Posts.— Bush Expeditions.-British and American Soldiers compared. -Arsenals.-Rifles.-Topographical Enquiries highly commended. The States not fortifying the Maine Frontier.— Field Works. The American Hatchet.-The Militia.-Injudicious System.- A muster in Vermont.-Evacuation Day at New York. The Invincibles.-Prospects of War.-Britons ought to be superior to petty jealousy.

It was a bitterly cold day in December, the ice was closing up the sides of the Hudson, and masses of it were floating down in the open centre channel, which daily became more and more contracted, when I stepped into a steam-vessel, and essayed to visit the Military Acdemy at West

[blocks in formation]



Point. The hills, prairies, and fields, were in their bleak winter mantle, and the white frame houses in the midst of the snow, suggested any other idea than that of warmth and comfort.

We ploughed and crushed through the ice, and after several severe struggles with thickening floes, landed at the Military Academy, got a most comfortable apartment next the officers' messroom, and were received with great kindness by Colonel Thayer and the other gentlemen of the institution.

The situation of the academy is beautiful and romantic. High above the Hudson, on a level plateau, and surrounded with mountains of a thousand feet elevation, stand the plain buildings of West Point. Three barrack-like edifices contain the halls of study and sleeping apartments of the two hundred and fifty cadets, and a row of detached houses, with poplars before them, are occupied by the superintendent and the professors. On the heights around, and everywhere commanding the river, are traces of the redoubts and batteries of the revolution. A cenotaph in memory of Kosciusko, the Polish patriot, overlooks the river; and not far from it is the garden retreat, among rocks and trees, where he used to meditate on his fallen fortunes. On the left of the ground is the cadets' grave-yard, where is a




handsome marble tomb, with military emblems. on it.

Cadets remain at the Military Academy four years; when admitted, at fourteen years of age, they are examined in English, reading, writing, and arithmetic only; but after six months, there is a severe mathematical examination, which many are unable to pass. As at our Royal Military College, there are half-yearly examinations at West Point; but these are so strict, and the course is in general so severe, that half of those who enter the college, are obliged to leave after the first examination. There is a remarkable difference between the cadets of the Northern and Southern States; the former are generally studious and industrious, the latter, brought up among slaves, are idle and inattentive, so that they are almost all dismissed; consequently the academy is not " in good odour" with the planters, for they imagine that favouritism prevails, and that the dismissals are not impartial.

The cadets are divided into four classes for the four years' course. The junior class study French grammatically, (but pay no attention to speaking the language,) mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, algebra, mensuration, and surveying; they are also drilled. The second year the mathematical course includes descriptive and analyti



cal geometry, conic sections, and fluxions; French is continued, and drawing the human figure is taught. The third year natural philosophy is given, with chemistry, and drawing, or rather copying landscapes, and topography. And the fourth or last year, the studies are engineering, including the science of artillery, field, and permanent fortification, tactics, military and civil architecture, besides chemistry and mineralogy, law and ethics.

The cadets intended for the artillery, after leaving West Point, attend the school of practice at Fort Monro, in Virginia, where they see, for the first time, the construction of field works. The West Point cadets are encamped two months in autumn, but then only for the purpose of drill. At that time about one fourth of the cadets are allowed to visit their friends, for there is no regular vacation. The uniform of the cadets is a grey coatee with three rows of brass buttons and black braid, white trowsers in summer and grey in winter. Their pay is twenty-eight dollars a month, out of which ten are deducted for messing, and the rest furnishes clothes and other necessaries.

The cadets are confined to their halls of study for about ten hours per day; they seemed to be very well prepared with their exercises, but their

« AnteriorContinuar »