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THEIR CONFINEMENT AND EXCESSES. 277
proficiency is attained with the loss of health, for they all looked pale and sickly, stooped, and some wore spectacles. From October to March they hardly ever move out of doors or take active exercise, and it was really painful to see young men under such a rigorous system. After what I saw, I need hardly have enquired after the health of the cadets, but I did so, and found that from January to March dyspepsia was very common among them; and though few die at the establishment, yet I am convinced the seeds of disease are sown there, and that many return to their friends with broken constitutions. As no watch is kept over the cadets at night, I was told by one of the young gentlemen, that some leave their rooms, and repair to haunts of dissipation among the hills known only to themselves, where they meet women of loose character, eat pork and molasses, drink gin-sling, and chew tobacco, which last (horresco referens) is too often an accomplishment of the American youth of all classes.
I naturally enquired what figure the cadets who pass the ordeal of West Point make in after life are they distinguished in the walks of science? do they contribute to the literature of their country? The answer I received was, that they are never heard of after they leave the Military Academy. A short time ago, certain young
ORDEAL AT WEST POINT.
officers were sent from the academy to assist General Bernard to draw up reports for Congress on the national defensive works, and he complained that, so far from these officers being of any assistance to him, he was compelled to translate his own French into imperfect English. No attention being paid to English composition at the academy, the young men could not express themselves intelligibly in their own language; and I imagine, from getting a surfeit of mathematics at West Point, they throw aside Legendre and Lacroix the moment they quit the academic
In a word, though the Military Academy has produced some names distinguished in the history of their country, yet it appears to me that the present system is not judicious; the health of the young men is needlessly sacrificed, and they acquire a distaste for abstruse studies of every kind.
I may as well now say a few words on the army of the United States in general, in case any military reader should desire to be better acquainted with the composition of the republican
The peace establishment of the United States is composed of four regiments of artillery and seven regiments of infantry, and, with staff officers, amounts to about six thousand men. Each
ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES.
regiment of artillery consists of nine companies, one of which is equipped as light artillery. A company is officered by a captain, four subalterns, and eight non-commissioned officers, with three artificers, two musicians, and forty-two privates. A company of infantry consists of a captain and two subalterns, seven non-commissioned officers, two musicians, and forty-two privates; and to each regiment of artillery and infantry there are one colonel, one lieutenant-colonel, one major, an adjutant, sergeant-major, and quarter-mastersergeant.
The corps of military and topographical engineers are not attached to the ordnance department, which is merged in the artillery. The ordnance service in the States consists merely of thirty officers of artillery, selected to command the different depôts of arms and arsenals of the Union, with ten superintendents of armouries and storekeepers.
Major-General Alexander Macomb, who commands the army at present, is a stout, good-looking man, about fifty-nine years of age, and has served thirty-two years; "he was a member of the Military Academy, and distinguished by his services in the last war, as the commandant of a regiment and brigade, and particularly at the battle of Plattsburgh, where he commanded in
chief, and for which latter service he received the thanks of Congress, and a gold medal, a brevet of major-general, the freedom of the city of New York, and a sword of honour voted by the legislature, the special thanks of Vermont, and the general thanks of several other States." I had the honour of making the acquaintance of General Macomb, and found him a very frank and intelligent gentleman, with more of the engaging offhanded manners of an Irishman than the usual reserve of Americans.
The major-general commanding is allowed two aides-de-camp; besides him, there are two brigadiers-general, each with one aide-de-camp, and these aides (taken from the subalterns of the line,) besides their other duties, perform those of assistant adjutants-general. Two inspectors-general travel annually thousands of miles to visit the widely-scattered posts of the army; their duty is very severe, when we consider the great extent of territory they have to traverse. There are also an adjutant and a quarter-master-general, two quarter-masters, and ten assistant quarter-masters.
The subsistence department consists of one commissary-general, and fifty assistant-commissaries, taken (as in the East India Company's service) from the subalterns of the line, with extra There are also one paymaster-general, and
DESERTIONS AND ENLISTMENTS.
fourteen paymasters; one surgeon-general, eight surgeons, and forty-five assistant-surgeons.
It is an extraordinary fact, but not the less true, that nearly one-half of the non-commissioned officers and privates of the American army desert every year. All free white males, between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, may be enlisted; the standard height is five feet six inches, and the bounty-money is twelve dollars. According to the spirit of the institutions of the country, all enlistments shall be "voluntary," that is to say, twenty-four hours must elapse between the recruit's expressing his wish to enlist and his subscribing the oath and receiving the bounty, and though the period of service is only five years, yet few remain to complete it.
The great extent of territory in the states, with the scanty population, causes wages to be high, while provisions are also cheap; generally speaking, therefore, the most worthless characters enter the army, which consists of a melange of English deserters, Dutch, French, Americans, &c. Five dollars are the monthly pay of a private, and many labourers in the States earn a dollar per day, so that it is obvious there is no great inducement to belong to an army which is held in no great estimation by the citizens generally, and has no pension list, or asylum for disabled soldiers.