Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 64.djvu/37

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33
THE NEW WEST POINT.

little army of only a few thousands, officered almost wholly by West Point graduates, Winfield Scott marched from the Gulf to the Valley of the City of Mexico, gaining victory after victory, to finally dictate the terms of peace from 'the Halls of Montezuma.'

The change of sentiment among the people as to 'graduated cadets' was instantaneous, and from that day no thought has found expression adverse to the interests of educating and maintaining a considerable body of competent officers.

The reasons for the people's change of sentiment are not to be found alone in the proved ability of West Point men in campaigning, or in any superior valor in action. Others than graduates have shown great skill in strategy, and the volunteer has always been easily his

 

PSM V64 D037 The first west point academy.png

The First Academy.

 

equal in courage and endurance, with perhaps that moral advantage of not being a 'hireling soldier.' It is that through now a full century the record of the graduates of West Point has been spread before the country, and has been found to be on the average so exceedingly high as to be a matter not only of congratulation, but astonishment. There are West Point men who have gone badly astray; some have been promptly cashiered out of the service; others have fled with ill gotten spoils beyond a 'process,' and others yet have had short shrift in a penitentiary. There are such, but they are marvelously few. Not only in the army, but in civil life, the standard of honor and of integrity has been and is marvelously high.

This has come, not that among the four thousand graduates the same blood does not run and the same influences work for good or ill as among a similar number of others; if they are on the average more high-minded, more duteous in every department of life, it is that the penalty for departure from the straight and narrow path is so extremely swift and terrible. What is true in this respect in the army and in business affairs is true perhaps to a greater extent in the