HotFreeBooks.com
Henry Ossian Flipper, The Colored Cadet at West Point
by Henry Ossian Flipper
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

It will be a struggle of life to determine who among you will keep their standing in the contest for future honors and distinctions.

You who have been the better students here, and possessed the greater natural qualities, have a start in the race; but industry, study, perseverance, and other qualities will continue to be important factors in the future, as they have been in the past.

Through continuous mental, moral, and physical development, with progress in the direction of your profession and devotion to duty, lies the road to military glory; and it may readily come to pass that "the race will not be to the swift, nor the battle to the strong," as you regard your classmates to-day.

It must be admitted, however, that great leaders are born.

A rare combination of natural qualities causes men to develop greatness. Education and training make them greater; nevertheless, men with fewer natural qualities often succeed, with education and training, when those more richly endowed fail to reach the higher places, and you have doubtless witnessed that in your experience here.

A man in a great place in modern times is not respectable without education. That man must be a God to command modern armies successfully without it; yet war is a great school; men learn quickly by experience, and in long wars there will be found men of natural abilities who will appear at the front. It will be found, however, in the long run, that the man who has prepared himself to make the best use of his natural talents will win in the race, if he has the opportunity, while others of equal or greater natural parts may fail from lack of that mental and moral training necessary to win the respect of those they command.

Towards the close of our civil war, men came to the front rank who entered the service as privates. They were men of strong natural qualities. How far the best of them would have proceeded had the war continued, cannot be told; but it may be safely assumed that if they possessed the moral qualities and the education necessary to command the respect of the armies with which they were associated, they would have won the highest honors; and yet our war lasted but four years.

Some of them had the moral qualities, some the education; and I have known of those men who thus came forward, some who would certainly have reached the highest places in a long race, had they had the training given to you.

War gives numerous opportunities for distinction, and especially to those who in peace have demonstrated that they would be available in war; and soldiers can win distinction in both peace and war if they will but seize their opportunities.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to victory."

Great responsibilities in time of danger are not given to the ignorant, the slothful, or to those who have impaired their powers of mind or body by the indulgences of life. In times of danger favorites are discarded. When work is to be done, deeds to be performed, men of action have their opportunities and fail not to seize them. It is the interest of commanders that such men should be selected for service, when success or failure may follow, according to the wisdom of the selection, as the instrument may be—sharp or dull, good or bad.

I would say to you, lead active, temperate, studious lives, develop your physical qualities as well as mental. Regard the education acquired here as but rudimentary; pursue your studies in the line of your profession and as well in such other branches of science or language as may best accord with your inclinations. It will make you greater in your profession and cause you to be independent of it. The latter is but prudent in these practical days.

Study to lead honorable, useful, and respected lives. Even if no opportunity presents for martial glory you will not fail to find your reward.

Avoid the rocks of dissipation, of gambling, of debt; lead those manly lives which will always find you in health in mind and body, free from entanglements of whatever kind, and you may be assured you will find your opportunities for great services, when otherwise you would have been overlooked or passed by. Such men are known and appreciated in every army and out of it.

Knowledge derived from books may bring great distinction outside of the field of war, as an expert in the lessons of the military profession and in others, but the lessons of hard service are salutary and necessary to give the soldier a practical understanding of the world and its ways as he will encounter them in war. I would advise you to go when young to the plains—to the wilderness— seek active service there, put off the days of indulgence and of ease. Those should follow years.

Take with you to the frontier your dog, your rod and gun; the pursuit of a life in the open air with such adjuncts will go far to give you health and the vigor to meet the demands to be made upon you in trying campaigns, and to enable you to establish the physical condition necessary to maintain a life of vigor such as a soldier requires. You will by these means, too, avoid many of the temptations incident to an idle life —all calculated to win you from your usefulness in the future, and by no means leave your books behind you.

When I graduated, General Scott, thinking possibly to do me a service, asked me to what regiment I desired to be assigned; I replied, to the regiment stationed at the most western post in the United States. I was sent to the Indian Territory of to-day. We had not then acquired California or New Mexico, and our western boundary north of Texas was the one hundredth degree of longitude.

I know that that early frontier service and the opportunities for healthy and vigorous out-door exercise were of great advantage to me in many ways, and would have been more so had I followed the advice in reference to study that I have given to you.

There are many "extreme western" posts to-day. It is difficult to say which is the most western in the sense of that day, when the Indian frontiers did not as now, lie in the circumference of an inner circle; but the Yellowstone will serve your purpose well. And if any of you wish to seek that service your taste will not be difficult to gratify, for the hardest lessons will be certain to be avoided by many. There will be those who in the days of youth will seek the softer places. They may have their appropriate duties there and do their parts well, but it may be considered a safe maxim that the indulgence of the present will have to be paid for in the future A man may not acquire greatness by pursuing religiously the course I have indicated as the best, but it will be safe to assume that when the roll of honor of your class is called after a length of service equal to mine, but few, if any of your number, will have done their part well in public estimation save of those who shall have pretty closely followed these safe rules of life.

Gentlemen, I bid you welcome.

ADDRESS BY HON. G. W. McCRARY, Secretary of War.

GENTLEMEN OF THE GRADUATING CLASS: Although not a part of the programme arranged for these exercises, I cannot refuse to say a word by way of greeting, and I would make it as hearty and earnest as possible to you, gentlemen, one and all, upon this occasion, so interesting to you as well is to the entire army, and to the people of the whole country.

There are others here who will speak to you as soldiers, to whom you will listen, and from whom you will receive all counsel and admonition as coming from men who have distinguished themselves in the command of the greatest armies the world has ever seen, and by the achievement of some of the grandest victories recorded upon the pages of history.

I would speak to you as a citizen; and as such, I desire to assure you that you are to-day the centre of a general interest pervading every part of our entire country. It is not the army alone that is interested in the graduating class of 1877. West Point Military Academy, more than any other institution in the land—far more—is a national institution—one in which we have a national pride.

It is contrary to the policy of this country to keep in time of peace a large standing army We have adopted what I think is a wiser and better policy— that of educating a large number of young men in the science of arms, so that they may be ready when the time of danger comes. You will go forth from this occasion with your commissions as Second Lieutenants in the army; but I see, and I know that the country sees, that if war should come, and large armies should be organized and marshalled, we have here seventy-six young gentlemen, any one of whom can command not only a company, but a brigade; and I think I may say a division, or an army corps.

The experience of the past teaches that I do not exaggerate when I say this. At all events, such is the theory upon which our government proceeds, and it is expected that every man who is educated in this institution, whether he remains in the ranks of the army or not, wherever he may be found and called upon, shall come and draw his sword in defence of his country and her flag.

It is a happy coincidence that one hundred years ago to-day, on the 14th of June, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the act which fixed our national emblem as the stars and stripes. It is a happy coincidence that you graduate upon the anniversary of the passage of that act—the centennial birthday of the stars and stripes. I do not know that it will add any thing to your love of the flag and of your country. I doubt whether any thing would add to that; but I refer to this coincidence with great pleasure.

Gentlemen of the Graduating Class: I am not qualified to instruct you in your duties as soldiers, but these is one thing I may say to you, because it ought to be said to every graduating class, and to all young men about to enter upon the active duties of life, and that is, that the profession does not ennoble the man, but the man ennobles the profession Behind the soldier is the man.

Character, young men, is every thing; without it, your education is nothing; without it, your country will be disappointed in you. Go forth into life, then, firmly resolved to be true, not only to the flag of your country, not only to the institutions of the land, not only to the Union which our fathers established, and which the blood of our countrymen has cemented, but to be true to yourselves and the principles of honor, of rectitude, of temperance, of virtue, which have always characterized the great and successful soldier, and must always characterize such a soldier in the future.

ADDRESS BY MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN M. SCHOFIELD, Superintendent U. S. Military Academy.

GENTLEMEN OF THE GRADUATING CLASS: The agreeable duty now devolves upon me of delivering to you the diplomas which the Academic Board have awarded you as Graduates of the Military Academy.

These diplomas you have fairly won by your ability, your industry, and your obedience to discipline. You receive them, not as favors from any body, but as the just and lawful reward of honest and persistent effort.

You have merited, and are about to receive, the highest honors attainable by young men in our country. You have won these honors by hard work and patient endurance, and you are thus prepared to prize them highly. Unless thus fairly won, honors, like riches, are of little value.

As you learn, with advancing years, to more fully appreciate the value in life of the habits you have acquired of self-reliance, long-sustained effort, obedience to discipline, and respect for lawful authority, a value greater even than that of the scientific knowledge you have gained, you will more and more highly prize the just reward which you are to-day found worthy to receive.

You are now prepared to enter upon an honorable career in the great arena of the world. The West Point Diploma has ever been a passport to public respect, and to the confidence of government. But such respect and confidence imply corresponding responsibilities. The honor of West Point and that of the army are now in your keeping; and your country is entitled to the best services, intellectual, moral, and physical, which it may be in your power to render.

That you may render such services, do not fail to pursue your scientific studies, that you may know the laws of nature, and make her forces subservient to the public welfare. Study carefully the history, institutions, and laws of your country, that you may be able to see and to defend what is lawful and right in every emergency. Study not only the details of your profession, but the highest principles of the art of war, You may one day be called to the highest responsibility. And, above all, be governed in all things by those great moral principles which have been the guide of great and good men in all ages and in all countries. Without such guide the greatest genius can do only evil to mankind.

One of your number, under temptation which has sometimes proved too great for even much older soldiers, committed A breach of discipline for which he was suspended. The Honorable Secretary of War has been kindly pleased to remit the penalty, so that your classmate may take his place among you according to his academic rank.

You have to regret the absence of one of your number, who has been prevented by extreme illness from pursuing the studies of the last year. But I am glad to say that Mr. Barnett has so far recovered that he will be able to return to the Academy, and take his place in the next class.

Another member of the class has been called away by the death of his father, but he had passed his examination, and will graduate with you. His diploma will be sent to him.

With the single exception, then, above mentioned, I have the satisfaction of informing you that you graduate with the ranks of your class unbroken.

We take leave of you, gentlemen, not only with hope, but with full confidence that you will acquit yourselves well in the honorable career now before you. We give you our parental blessing, with fervent wishes for your prosperity, happiness, and honor.

Loud applause greeted the close of the general's speech, and the graduates were then called up one by one and Their diplomas delivered to them. The first to step forward was Mr. William M. Black, of Lancaster, Penn., whose career at the Academy has been remarkable. He has stood at the head of his class for the whole four years, actually distancing all competitors. He is a young man of signal ability, won his appointment in a competitive examination, and has borne himself with singular modesty and good sense. During the past year he has occupied the position of Adjutant of the Corps of Cadets—the highest post which can be held. General Sherman shook hands with the father of the young cadet—a grand-looking old gentleman, and very proud of his son, as he has a right to be—and warmly congratulated him on the brilliant career which was before the young man. The next on the list was Mr. Walter F. Fisk. When Mr. Flipper, the colored cadet, stepped forward, and received the reward of four years of as hard work and unflinching courage and perseverance as any young man could be called upon to go through, the crowd of spectators gave him a round of hearty applause. He deserves it. Any one who knows how quietly and bravely this young man—the first of his despised race to graduate at West Point—has borne the difficulties of his position; how for four years he has had to stand apart from his classmates as one with them but not of them; and to all the severe work of academic official life has had added the yet more severe mental strain which bearing up against a cruel social ostracism puts on any man; and knowing that he has done this without getting soured, or losing courage for a day—any one, I say, who knows all this would be inclined to say that the young man deserved to be well taken care of by the government he is bound to serve. Everybody here who has watched his course speaks in terms of admiration of the unflinching courage he has shown. No cadet will go away with heartier wishes for his future welfare.

When the last of the diplomas had been given, the line reformed, the band struck up a lively tune, the cadets marched to the front of the barracks, and there Cadet Black, the Adjutant, read the orders of the day, they being the standing of the students in their various classes, the list of new officers, etc. This occupied some time, and at its conclusion Colonel Neil, Commandant of Cadets, spoke a few kind words to the First Class, wished them all success in life, and then formally dismissed them.

At the close of the addresses the Superintendent of the Academy delivered the diplomas to the following cadets, members of the Graduating Class. The names are alphabetically arranged:

Ammon A. Augur, William H. Baldwin, Thomas H. Barry, George W. Baxter, John Baxter, Jr., John Bigelow, Jr., William M. Black, Francis P. Blair, Augustus P. Blocksom, Charles A. Bradley, John J. Brereton, Oscar J. Brown, William C. Brown, Ben. I. Butler, George N. Chase, Edward Chynoweth, Wallis O. Clark, Charles J. Crane, Heber M. Creel, Matthias W. Day, Millard F. Eggleston, Robert T. Emmet, Calvin Esterly, Walter L. Fisk, Henry O. Flipper, Fred. W. Foster, Daniel A. Frederick, F. Halverson French, Jacob G. Galbraith, William W. Galbraith, Charles B. Gatewood, Edwin F. Glenn, Henry J. Goldman, William B. Gordon, John F. Guilfoyle, John J. Haden, Harry T. Hammond, John F. C. Hegewald, Curtis B. Hoppin, George K. Hunter, James B. Jackson, Henry Kirby, Samuel H. Loder, James A. Maney, James D. Mann, Frederick Marsh, Medad C. Martin, Solon F. Massey, Ariosto McCrimmon, David N. McDonald, John McMartin, Stephen C. Mills, Cunliffe H. Murray, James V. S. Paddock, Theophilus Parker, Alexander M. Patch, Francis J. Patten, Thomas C. Patterson, John H. Philbrick, Edward H. Plummer, David Price, Jr., Robert D. Read, Jr., Solomon W. Roessler, Robert E. Safford, James C. Shofner, Adam Slaker, Howard A. Springett, Robert R. Stevens, Monroe P. Thorington, Albert Todd, Samuel P. Wayman, John V. White, Wilber E. Wilder, Richard H. Wilson, William T. Wood, Charles G. Woodward.



CHAPTER XIII.

FURLOUGH.

OF all privileges or sources of pleasure which tend to remove the monotony of military life, there are none to which the stripling soldier looks forward with more delight than furlough. Indeed it is hard to say which is the stronger emotion that we experience when we first receive information of our appointment to a cadetship, or that which comes upon us when we are apprised that a furlough has been granted us. Possibly the latter is the stronger feeling. It is so with some, with those, at least, who received the former announcement with indifference, as many do, accepting it solely to please a mother, or father, or other friend or relative. With whatever feeling, or for whatever reason the appointment may have been accepted, it is certain that all are equally anxious to take advantage of their furlough when the time comes. This is made evident in a multitude of ways.

A furlough is granted to those only who have been present at two annual examinations at least, and by and with the consent of a parent or guardian if a minor.

Immediately after January next preceding their second annual examination, the furloughmen, as they are called, have class meetings, or rather furlough meetings, to celebrate the "good time coming." They hold them almost weekly, and they are devoted to music, jesting, story-telling, and to general jollification. It can be well imagined with what joy a cadet looks forward to his furlough. It is the only interruption in the monotony of his Academy life, and it is to him for that very reason extremely important. During all this time, and even long before January, the furloughmen are accustomed to record the state of affairs respecting their furlough by covering every available substance that will bear a pencil or chalk mark with numerous inscriptions, giving the observer some such information as this: "100 days to furlough," "75 days to furlough," "only two months before furlough," and thus even to the day before they actually leave.

The crowning moment of all is the moment when the order granting furloughs is published.

I am sure my happiest moment at West Point, save when I grasped my "sheepskin" for the first time, was when I heard my name read in the list. It was a most joyous announcement. To get away from West Point, to get out among friends who were not ashamed nor afraid to be friends, could not be other than gratifying. It was almost like beginning a new life, a new career, and as I looked back from the deck of the little ferryboat my feelings were far different from what they were two years before.

My furlough was something more than an interruption of my ordinary mode of life for the two years previous. It was a complete change from a life of isolation to one precisely opposite. And of course I enjoyed it the more on that account.

The granting of furloughs is entirely discretionary with the Superintendent. It may be denied altogether, but usually is not, except as punishment for some grave offence.

It is customary to detain for one, two, three, or even more days those who have demerits exceeding a given number for a given time. The length of their leave is therefore shortened by just so many days.

There are a number of customs observed by the cadets which I shall describe here.

To disregard these customs is to show—at least it is so construed—a want of pride. To say that this or that "is customary," is quite sufficient to warrant its conception and execution. Among these customs the following may be mentioned:

To begin with the fourth class. Immediately after their first semi-annual examination the class adopts a class crest or motto, which appears on all their stationery, and often on many other things. To have class stationary is a custom that is never overlooked. Each class chooses its own design, which usually bears the year in which the class will graduate.

Class stationary is used throughout the period of one's cadetship.

In the early spring, the first, second, and third classes elect hop managers, each class choosing a given number. This is preparatory to the hop given by the second to the graduating class as a farewell token. This custom is rigorously kept up.

Next to these are customs peculiar to the first class. They are never infringed upon by other classes, nor disregarded even by the first class.

First, prior to graduation it is an invariable custom of the graduating class to adopt and procure, each of them, a class ring. This usually bears the year of graduation, the letters U. S. M. A., or some other military character.

This ring is the signet that binds the class to their Alma Mater, and to each other. It is to be in after years the souvenir that is to recall one's cadet life, and indeed every thing connected with a happy and yet dreary part of one's career.

The class album also is intended for the same purpose. It contains the "smiling shadows" of classmates, comrades, and scenes perhaps never more to be visited or seen after parting at graduation. Oh! what a feeling of sadness, of weariness of life even, must come upon him who in after years opens his album upon those handsome young faces, and there silently compares their then lives with what succeeding years have revealed! Who does not, would not grieve to recall the sad tidings that have come anon and filled one's heart and being with portentous gloom? This, perhaps a chum, an especial favorite, or at any rate a classmate, has fallen under a rude savage warfare while battling for humanity, without the advantages or the glory of civilized war, but simply with the consciousness of duty properly done. That one, perchance, has fallen bravely, dutifully, without a murmur of regret, and this one, alas! where is he? Has he, too, perished, or does he yet remember our gladsome frolics at our beloved Alma Mater. My mind shudders, shrinks from the sweet and yet sad anticipations of the years I have not seen and may perhaps never see. But there is a sweetness, a fondness that makes me linger longingly upon the thought of those unborn days.



CHAPTER XIV.

INCIDENT, HUMOR, ETC.

IT may not be inappropriate to give in this place a few—as many as I can recall—of the incidents, more or less humorous, in which I myself have taken part or have noticed at the various times of their occurrence. First, then, an adventure on "Flirtation."

During the encampment of 1873—I think it was in July— Smith and myself had the—for us—rare enjoyment of a visit made us by some friends. We had taken them around the place and shown and explained to them every thing of interest. We at length took seats on "Flirtation," and gave ourselves up to pure enjoyment such as is found in woman's presence only. The day was exceedingly beautiful; all nature seemed loveliest just at that time, and our lone, peculiar life, with all its trials and cares, was quite forgotten. We chatted merrily, and as ever in such company were really happy. It was so seldom we had visitors—and even then they were mostly males—that we were delighted to have some one with whom we could converse on other topics than official ones and studies. While we sat there not a few strangers, visitors also, passed us, and almost invariably manifested surprise at seeing us.

I do think uncultivated white people are unapproachable in downright rudeness, and yet, alas! they are our superiors. Will prejudice ever be obliterated from the minds of the people? Will man ever cease to prejudge his fellow-being for color's sake alone? Grant, O merciful God, that he may!

But au fait! Anon a cadet, whose perfectly fitting uniform of matchless gray and immaculate white revealed the symmetry of his form in all its manly beauty, saunters leisurely by, his head erect, shoulders back, step quick and elastic, and those glorious buttons glittering at their brilliant points like so many orbs of a distant stellar world. Next a plebe strolls wearily along, his drooping shoulders, hanging head, and careless gait bespeaking the need of more squad drill. Then a dozen or more "picnicers," all females, laden with baskets, boxes, and other et ceteras, laughing and playing, unconscious of our proximity, draw near. The younger ones tripping playfully in front catch sight of us. Instantly they are hushed, and with hands over their mouths retrace their steps to disclose to those in rear their astounding discovery. In a few moments all appear, and silently and slowly pass by, eyeing us as if we were the greatest natural wonder in existence. They pass on till out of sight, face about and "continue the motion," passing back and forth as many as five times. Wearied at length of this performance, Smith rose and said, "Come, let's end this farce," or something to that effect. We arose, left the place, and were surprised to find a moment after that they were actually following us.

The "Picnicers," as they are called in the corps, begin their excursions early in May, and continue them till near the end of September. They manage to arrive at West Point at all possible hours of the day, and stay as late as they conveniently can. In May and September, when we have battalion drills, they are a great nuisance, a great annoyance to me especially. The vicinity of that flank of the battalion in which I was, was where they "most did congregate." It was always amusing, though most embarrassing, to see them pointing me out to each other, and to hear their verbal accompaniments, "There he is, the first"—or such —"man from the right"—"or left." "Who?" "The colored cadet." "Haven't you seen him? Here, I'll show him to you," and so on ad libitum.

All through this encampment being "—young; a novice in the trade," I seldom took advantage of Old Guard privileges, or any other, for the reason that I was not accustomed to such barbarous rudeness, and did not care to be the object of it.

It has always been a wonder to me why people visiting at West Point should gaze at me so persistently for no other reason than curiosity. What there was curious or uncommon about me I never knew. I was not better formed, nor more military in my bearing than all the other cadets. My uniform did not fit better, was not of better material, nor did it cost more than that of the others. Yet for four years, by each and every visitor at West Point who saw me, it was done. I know not why, unless it was because I was in it.

There is an old man at Highland Falls, N. Y., who is permitted to peddle newspapers at West Point. He comes up every Sabbath, and all are made aware of his presence by his familiar cry, "Sunday news! Sunday news!" Indeed, he is generally known and called by the soubriquet, "Sunday News."

He was approaching my tent one Sunday afternoon but was stopped by a cadet who called out to him from across the company street, "Don't sell your papers to them niggers!" This kind advice was not heeded.

This and subsequent acts of a totally different character lead me to believe that there is not so much prejudice in the corps as is at first apparent. A general dislike for the negro had doubtless grown up in this cadet's mind from causes which are known to everybody at all acquainted with affairs at West Point about that time, summer of 1873. On several occasions during my second and third years I was the grateful recipient of several kindnesses at the hands of this same cadet, thus proving most conclusively that it was rather a cringing disposition, a dread of what others might say, or this dislike of the negro which I have mentioned, that caused him to utter those words, and not a prejudiced dislike of "them niggers," for verily I had won his esteem.

Just after returning from this encampment to our winter quarters, I had another adventure with Smith, my chum, and Williams, which cost me dearly.

It was just after "evening call to quarters." I knew Smith and Williams were in our room. I had been out for some purpose, and was returning when it occurred to me to have some fun at their expense. I accordingly walked up to the door—our "house" was at the head of the stairs and on the third floor—and knocked, endeavoring to imitate as much as possible an officer inspecting. They sprang to their feet instantly, assumed the position of the soldier, and quietly awaited my entrance. I entered laughing. They resumed their seats with a promise to repay me, and they did, for alas! I was "hived." Some cadet reported me for "imitating a tactical officer inspecting." For this I was required to walk three tours of extra guard duty on three consecutive Saturdays, and to serve, besides, a week's confinement in my quarters. The "laugh" was thus, of course, turned on me.

During the summer of '74, in my "yearling camp," I made another effort at amusement, which was as complete a failure as the attempt with Smith and Williams. I had been reported by an officer for some trifling offence. It was most unexpected to me, and least of all from this particular officer. I considered the report altogether uncalled for, but was careful to say nothing to that effect. I received for the offence one or two demerits. A short while afterwards, being on guard, I happened to be posted near his tent. Determined on a bit of revenge, and fun too, at half-past eleven o'clock at night I placed myself near his tent, and called off in the loudest tone I could command, "No.——half-past eleven o'clock, and all-l-l-l's well-l-l!" It woke him. He arose, came to the front of his tent, and called me back to him. I went, and he ordered me to call the corporal. I did so. When the corporal came he told him to "report the sentinel on No.—for calling off improperly." If I mistake not, I was also reported for not calling off at 12 P.M. loud enough to be heard by the next sentinel. Thus my bit of revenge recoiled twofold upon myself, and I soon discovered that I had been paying too dear for my whistle.

On another occasion during the same camp I heard a cadet say he would submit to no order or command of, nor permit himself to be marched anywhere by "the nigger," meaning myself. We were in the same company, and it so happened at one time that we were on guard the same day, and that I was the senior member of our company detail. When we marched off the next day the officer of the guard formed the company details to the front, and directed the senior member of each fifteen to march it to its company street and dismiss it. I instantly stepped to front and assumed command. I marched it as far as the color line at "support arms;" brought them to a "carry" there and saluted the colors. When we were in the company street, I commanded in loud and distinct tone, "Trail arms! Break ranks! March!" A cadet in a tent near by recognized my voice, and hurried out into the company street. Meeting the cadet first mentioned above, he thus asked of him:

"Did that nigger march you in?"

"Yes-es, the nigger marched us in," speaking slowly and drawling it out as if he had quite lost the power of speech.

At the following semi-annual examination (January, '75), the gentleman was put on the "retired list," or rather on the list of "blasted hopes." I took occasion to record the event in the following manner, changing of course the names:

FAILED.

SCENE.—Hall of Cadet Barracks at West Point. Characters: RANSOM and MARS, both Cadets. RANSOM, who has been "found" at recent semiannual examination, meets his more successful chum, MARS, on the stoop. After a moment's conversation, they enter the hall.

MARS (as they enter). Ah! how! what say? Found! Art going away? Unfortunate rather! 'm sorry! but stay! Who hadst thou? How didst thou? Badly, I'm sure. Hadst done well they had not treated thee so.

RANSOM (sadly). Thou sayest aright. I did do my best, Which was but poorly I can but confess. The subject was hard. I could no better Unless I'd memorized to the letter.

MARS. Art unfortunate! but tho' 'twere amiss Me half thinks e'en that were better than this. Thou couldst have stood the trial, if no more Than to come out low. That were better, 'm sure.

RANSOM. But 'tis too late. 'Twas but an afterthought, Which now methinks at most is worth me naught; Le sort en est jett, they say, you know; 'Twere idle to dream and still think of woe.

MARS. Thou sayest well! Yield not to one rebuff. Thou'rt a man, show thyself of manly stuff. The bugle calls! I must away! Adieu! May Fortune grant, comrade, good luck to you!

They shake hands, MARS hurries out to answer the bugle call. RANSOM prepares for immediate departure for home.)

"O dear! it is hawid to have this cullud cadet— perfectly dre'fful. I should die to see my Geawge standing next to him." Thus did one of your models of womankind, one of the negro's superiors, who annually visit West Point to flirt, give vent to her opinion of the "cullud cadet," an opinion thought out doubtless with her eyes, and for which she could assign no reason other than that some of her acquaintances, manifestly cadets, concurred in it, having perhaps so stated to her. And the cadets, with their accustomed gallantry, have ever striven to evade "standing next to him." No little amusement —for such it was to me—has been afforded me by the many ruses they have adopted to prevent it. Some of them have been extremely ridiculous, and in many cases highly unbecoming a cadet and a gentleman.

While I was a plebe, I invariably fell in in the rear rank along with the other plebes. This is a necessary and established custom. As soon as I became a third-classman, and had a right to fall in in the front rank whenever necessary or convenient, they became uneasy, and began their plans for keeping me from that rank. The first sergeant of my company did me the honor of visiting me at my quarters and politely requested me—not order me, for he had no possible authority for such an act—to fall in invariably on the right of the rear rank. To keep down trouble and to avoid any show of presumption or forwardness on my part, as I had been advised by an officer, I did as he requested, taking my place on the right of the rear rank at every formation of the company for another whole year. But with all this condescension on my part I was still the object of solicitous care. My falling in there did not preclude the possibility of my own classmates, now also risen to the dignity of third-classmen, falling in next to me. To perfect his plan, then, the first sergeant had the senior plebe in the company call at his "house," and take from the roster an alphabetical list of all the plebes in the company. With this he (the senior plebe) was to keep a special roster, detailing one of his own classmates to fall in next to me. Each one detailed for such duty was to serve one week—from Sunday morning breakfast to Sunday morning breakfast. The keeper of the roster was not of course to be detailed.

It is astonishing how little care was taken to conceal this fact from me. The plan, etc., was formed in my hearing, and there seems to have been no effort or even desire to hide it from me. Returning from supper one evening, I distinctly heard this plebe tell the sergeant that "Mr.— refused to serve." "You tell him," said the sergeant, "I want to see him at my 'house' after supper. If he doesn't serve I'll make it so hot for him he'll wish he'd never heard of West Point."

Is it not strange how these models of mankind, these our superiors, strive to thrust upon each other what they do not want themselves? It is a meanness, a baseness, an unworthiness from which I should shrink. It would be equally astonishing that men ever submit to it, were it not that they are plebes, and therefore thus easily imposed upon. The plebe in this case at length submitted.

When I became a second-classman, no difference was made by the cadets in their manner of falling in, whether because their scruples were overcome or because no fitting means presented themselves for avoiding it, I know not. If they happened to be near me when it was time to fall in, they fell in next to me.

In the spring of '76, our then first sergeant ordered us to fall in at all formations as nearly according to size as possible. As soon as this order was given, for some unknown reason, the old rgime was readopted. If I happened to fall in next to a first-classman, and he discovered it, or if a first-classman fell in next to me, and afterward found it out, he would fall out and go to the rear. The second and third-classmen, for no other reason than that first-classmen did it, "got upon their dignity, and refused to stand next to me. We see here a good illustration of that cringing, "bone- popularity" spirit which I have mentioned elsewhere.

The means of prevention adopted now were somewhat different from those of a year before. A file-closer would watch and follow me closely, and when I fell in would put a plebe on each side of me. It was really amusing sometimes to see his eagerness, and quite as amusing, I may add, to see his dismay when I would deliberately leave the place thus hemmed in by plebes and fall in elsewhere.

We see here again that cringing disposition to which I believe the whole of the ill-treatment of colored cadets has been due. The file-closers are usually second-class sergeants and third-class corporals. By way of "boning popularity" with the upper classmen, they stoop to almost any thing. In this case they hedged me in between the two plebes to prevent upper classmen from falling in next to me.

But it may be asked why I objected to having plebes next to me. I would answer, for several reasons. Under existing circumstances of prejudice, it was of the utmost importance to me to keep them away from me. First—and by no means the least important reason—to put them in the front rank was violating a necessary and established custom. The plebes are put in the rear rank because of their inexperience and general ignorance of the principles of marching, dressing, etc. If they are in the front rank, it would simply be absurd to expect good marching of them. A second reason, and by far the most important, results directly from this one. Being between two plebes, who would not, could not keep dressed, it would be impossible for me to do so. The general alignment of the company would be destroyed. There would be crowding and opening out of the ranks, and it would all originate in my immediate vicinity. The file-closers, never over-scrupulous when I was concerned, and especially when they could forward their own "popularity-boning" interests, would report me for these disorders in the company. I would get demerits and punishment for what the plebes next to me were really responsible for. The plebes would not be reported, because if they were their inexperience would plead strongly in their favor, and any reasonable explanation of an offence would suffice to insure its removal. I was never overfond of demerits or punishments, and therefore strenuously opposed any thing that might give me either; for instance, having plebes put next to me in ranks.

Toward the end of the year the plebes, having learned more about me and the way the corps looked upon me, became as eager to avoid me as the others. Not, however, all the plebes, for there were some who, when they saw others trying to avoid falling in next to me, would deliberately come and take their places there. These plebes, or rather yearlings now, were better disciplined, and, of course, my own scruples vanished.

During the last few months of the year no distinction was made, save by one or two high-toned ones.

When the next class of plebes were put in the battalion, the old cadets began to thrust them into the front rank next to me. At first I was indignant, but upon second thought I determined to tolerate it until I should be reported for some offence which was really an offence of the plebes. I intended to then explain the case, priori, in my written explanation to the commandant. I knew such a course would cause a discontinuance of the practice, which was plainly malicious and contrary to regulations. Fortunately, however, for all concerned, the affair was noticed by an officer, and by him summarily discontinued. I was glad of this, for the other course would have made the cadets more unfriendly, and would have made my condition even worse than it was. Thereafter I had no further trouble with the plebes.

One day, during my yearling camp, when I happened to be on guard, a photographer, wishing a view of the guard, obtained permission to make the necessary negative. As the officer of the day desired to be "took" with the guard, he came down to the guard tents, and the guard was "turned out" for him by the sentinel. He did not wish it then, and accordingly so indicated by saluting. I was sitting on a camp-stool in the shade reading. A few minutes after the officer of the day came. I heard the corporal call out, "Fall in the guard." I hurried for my gun, and passing near and behind the officer of the day, I heard him say to the corporal:

"Say, can't you get rid of that nigger? We don't want him in the picture."

The corporal immediately ordered me to fetch a pail of water. As he had a perfect right to thus order me, being for the time my senior officer, I proceeded to obey. While taking the pail the officer of the day approached me and most politely asked: "Going for water, Mr. Flipper?"

I told him I was.

"That's right," continued he; "do hurry. I'm nearly dead of thirst."

It is simply astonishing to see how these young men can stoop when they want any thing. A cadet of the second class—when I was in the third class—was once arrested for a certain offence, and, from the nature of the charge, was likely to be court-martialed. His friends made preparation for his defence. As I was not ten feet from him at the time specified in the charge, my evidence would be required in the event of a trial. I was therefore visited by one of his friends. He brought paper and pencil and made a memorandum of what I had to say. The cadet himself had the limits of his arrest extended and then visited me in person. We conversed quite a while on the subject, and, as my evidence would be in his favor, I promised to give it in case he was tried. He thanked me very cordially, asked how I was getting along in my studies, expressed much regret at my being ostracized, wished me all sorts of success, and again thanking me took his leave.

There is an article in the academic regulations which provides or declares that no citizen who has been a cadet at the Military Academy can receive a commission in the regular army before the class of which he was a member graduates, unless he can get the written consent of his former classmates.

A classmate of mine resigned in the summer of '75, and about a year after endeavored to get a commission. A friend and former classmate drew up the approval, and invited the class to his "house" to sign it. When half a dozen or more had signed it, it was sent to the guard- house, and the corporal of the guard came and notified me it was there for my consideration. I went to the guard- house at once. A number of cadets were sitting or standing around in the room. As soon as I entered they became silent and remained so, expecting, no doubt, I'd refuse to sign it, because of the treatment I had received at their hands. They certainly had little cause to expect that I would add my signature. Nevertheless I read the paper over and signed it without hesitation. Their anxiety was raised to the highest possible pitch, and scarcely had I left the room ere they seized the paper as if they would devour it. I heard some one who came in as I went out ask, "Did he sign it?"

Another case of condescension on the part of an upper classman occurred in the early part of my third year at the Academy, and this time in the mess hall. We were then seated at the tables by classes. Each table had a commandant, who was a cadet captain, lieutenant or sergeant, and in a few instances a corporal. At each table there was also a carver, who was generally a corporal, occasionally a sergeant or private. The other seats were occupied by privates, and usually in this order: first-classmen had first and second seats, second-classmen second and third seats, third- classmen third and fourth seats, and fourth-classmen fourth and fifth seats, which were at the foot of the table. I had a first seat, although a second-classman. For some reason a first-classman, who had a first seat at another table, desired to change seats with me. He accordingly sent a cadet for me. I went over to his room. I agreed to make the change, provided he himself obtained permission of the proper authorities. It was distinctly understood that he was to take my seat, a first seat, and I was to take his seat, also a first seat. He obtained permission of the superintendent of the mess hall, and also a written permit from the commandant. The change was made, but lo and behold! Instead of a first seat I got a third. The agreement was thus violated by him, my superior (?), and I was dissatisfied. The whole affair was explained to the commandant, not, however, by myself, but by my consent, the permit revoked, and I gained my former first seat. A tactical officer asked me, "Why did you exchange with him? Has he ever done any thing for you?"

I told him he had not, and that I did it merely to oblige him. It was immaterial to me at what table I sat, provided I had a seat consistent with the dignity of my class.

The baseness of character displayed by the gentleman, the reflection on myself and class would have evoked a complaint from me had not a classmate anticipated me by doing so himself.

This gentleman (?) was practically "cut" by the whole corps. He was spoken to, and that was about all that made his status in the corps better than mine.

Just after the semiannual examination following this adventure, another, more ridiculous still, occurred, of which I was the innocent cause. The dismissal of a number of deficient plebes and others made necessary a rearrangement of seats. The commandant saw fit to have it made according to class rank. It changed completely the former arrangement, and gave me a third seat. A classmate, who was senior to me, had the second seat. He did not choose to take it, and for two or more weeks refused to do so. I had the second seat during all this time, while he was fed in his quarters by his chum. He had a set of miniature cooking utensils in his own room, and frequently cooked there, using the gas as a source of heat. These were at last "hived," and he was ordered to " turn them in. He went to dinner one day when I was absent on guard. At supper he appeared again. Some one asked him how it was he was there, glancing at the same time at me. He laughed—it was plainly forced —and replied, "I forgot to fall out."

He came to his meals the next day, the next, and every succeeding day regularly. Thus were his scruples overcome. His refusing to go to his meals because he had to sit next to me was strongly disapproved by the corps for two reasons, viz., that he ought to be man enough not to thrust on others what he himself disliked; and that as others for two years had had seats by me, he ought not to complain because it now fell to his lot to have one there too.

Just after my return, in September, 1875, from a furlough of two months, an incident occurred which, explained, will give some idea of the low, unprincipled manner in which some of the cadets have acted toward me. It was at cavalry drill. I was riding a horse that was by no means a favorite with us. He happened to fall to my lot that day, and I rather liked him. His greatest faults were a propensity for kicking and slight inequality in the length of his legs. We were marching in a column of fours, and at a slow walk. I turned my head for some purpose, and almost simultaneously my horse plunged headlong into the fours in front of me. It was with difficulty that I retained my seat. I supposed that when I turned my head I had accidentally spurred him, thus causing him to plunge forward. I regained my proper place in ranks.

None of this was seen by the instructor, who was riding at the head of the column. Shortly after this I noticed that those near me were laughing. I turned my head to observe the cause and caught the trooper on my left in the act of spurring my horse. I looked at him long and fiercely, while he desisted and hung his head. Not long afterwards the same thing was repeated, and this time was seen by the instructor, who happened to wheel about as my horse rushed forward. He immediately halted the column, and, approaching, asked me, "What is the matter with that horse, Mr. F.?" To which I replied, "The trooper on my left persists in kicking and spurring him, so that I can do nothing with him."

He then caused another trooper in another set of fours to change places with me, and thereafter all went well.

Notwithstanding the secrecy of hazing, and the great care which those who practised it took to prevent being "hived," they sometimes overreached themselves and were severely punished. Cases have occurred where cadets have been dismissed for hazing, while others have been less severely punished.

Sometimes, also, the joke, if I may so call it, has been turned upon the perpetrators to their utter discomfort. I will cite an instance.

Quite often in camp two robust plebes are selected and ordered to report at a specified tent just after the battalion returns from supper. When they report each is provided with a pillow. They take their places in the middle of the company street, and at a given signal commence pounding each other. A crowd assembles from all parts of camp to witness the "pillow fight," as it is called. Sometimes, also, after fighting awhile, the combatants are permitted to rest, and another set continues the fight.

On one of these occasions, after fighting quite a while, a pillow bursted, and one of the antagonists was literally buried in feathers. At this a shout of laughter arose and the fun was complete. But alas for such pleasures! An officer in his tent, disturbed by the noise, came out to find its cause. He saw it at a glance, aided no doubt by vivid recollections of his own experience in his plebe camp. He called an orderly and sent for the cadet captain of the company. When he came he was ordered to send the plebes—he said new cadets—to their tents, and order them to remain there till permission was given to leave them. He then had every man, not a plebe, who had been present at the pillow fight turned out. When this was done he ordered them to pick up every feather within half an hour, and the captain to inspect at the end of that time and to see that the order was obeyed. Thus, therefore, the plebes got the better part of the joke.

It was rumored in camp one day that the superintendent and commandant were both absent from the post, and that the senior tactical officer was therefore acting superintendent. A plebe sentinel on Post No. 1, seeing him approaching camp, and not knowing under the circumstances how to act, or rather, perhaps, I should say, not knowing whether the report was true or not, called a corporal, and asked if he should salute this officer with "present arms." To this question that dignitary replied with righteous horror, "Salute him with present arms! No, sir! You stand at attention, and when he gets on your post shout, 'Hosannah to the supe!' This rather startled the plebe, who found himself more confused than ever. When it was about time for the sentinel to do something the corporal told him what to do, and returned to the guard tents. The officer was at the time the commanding officer of the camp.

While walking down Sixth Avenue, New York, with a young lady, on a beautiful Sabbath afternoon in the summer of 1875, I was paid a high compliment by an old colored soldier. He had lost one leg and had been otherwise maimed for life in the great struggle of 1861-65 for the preservation of the Union. As soon as he saw me approaching he moved to the outside of the pavement and assumed as well as possible the position of the soldier. When I was about six paces from him he brought his crutch to the position of "present arms," in a soldierly manner, in salute to me. I raised my cap as I passed, endeavoring to be as polite as possible, both in return for his salute and because of his age. He took the position of "carry arms," saying as he did so, "That's right! that's right! Makes me glad to see it."

We passed on, while he, too, resumed his course, ejaculating something about "good-breeding," etc., all of which we did not hear.

Upon inquiry I learned, as stated, that he had served in the Federal army. He had given his time and energy, even at the risk of his life, to his country. He had lost one limb, and been maimed otherwise for life. I considered the salute for that reason a greater honor.

During the summer of 1873 a number of cadets, who were on furlough, visited Mammoth Cave. While there they noticed on the wall, written in pencil, the name of an officer who was an instructor in Spanish at West Point. One of them took occasion to add to the inscription the following bit of information:

"Known at the U. S. Military Academy as the 'Spanish Inquisition.'"

A number of cadets accosted a plebe, who had just reported in May, 1874, and the following conversation ensued:

"Well, mister, what's your name?"

"John Walden."

"Sir!" yelled rather than spoken.

"John Walden."

"Well, sir, I want to see you put a 'sir' on it," with another yell.

"Sir John Walden," was the unconcerned rejoinder.

Now it was not expected that the "sir" would be put before the name after the manner of a title, but this impenetrable plebe put it there, and in so solemn and "don't-care" a manner that the cadets turned away in a roar of laughter.

Ever afterward he was known in the corps as "Sir John."

Another incident, even more laughable perhaps than the preceding, occurred between a cadet and plebe, which doubtless saved the plebe from further hazing. Approaching him with a look of utter contempt on his face, the cadet asked him:

"Well, thing, what's your name?"

"Wilreni, sir," meekly responded he.

"Wilreni, sir!" repeated the cadet slowly, and bowing his head he seemed for a moment buried in profoundest thought. Suddenly brightening up, he rejoined in the most unconcerned manner possible: "Oh! yes, yes, I remember now. You are Will Reni, the son of old man Bill Reni," put particular stress on "Will" and "Bill."

I think, though, the most laughable incident that has come under my notice was that of a certain plebe who made himself famous for gourmandizing.

Each night throughout the summer encampment, the guard is supplied from the mess hall with an abundance of sandwiches. The old cadets rarely eat them, but to the plebes, as yet unaccustomed to guard duty, they are quite a treat.

On one occasion when the sandwiches were unusually well prepared, and therefore unusually inviting, it was desirable to preserve them till late in the night, till after the guard had been turned out and inspected by the officer of the day. They were accordingly—to conceal them from the plebes—transferred, with the vessel containing them, to one of the chests of a caisson of the light battery, just in front of camp in park. Here they were supposed to be safe. But alas for such safety! At an hour not far advanced into the night, two plebes, led by an unerring instinctiveness, discovered the hiding-place of the sandwiches and devoured them all.

Now when the hour of feasting was come, a corporal was dispatched for the dainty dish, when, lo, and behold! it had vanished. The plebes—for who else could thus have secretly devoured them—were brought to account and the guilty ones discovered. They were severely censured in that contemptuous manner in which only a cadet, an upper classman, can censure a plebe, and threatened with hazing and all sorts of unpleasantness.

Next morning they were called forth and marched ingloriously to the presence of the commandant. Upon learning the object of the visit he turned to the chief criminal—the finder of the sandwiches —and asked him, "Why did you eat all the sandwiches, Mr. S—?"

"I didn't eat them all up, sir. I ate only fifteen," was his ready reply.

The gravity of the occasion, coupled with the enormity of the feast, was too much, and the commandant turned away his head to conceal the laughter he could not withhold. The plebe himself was rather short and fleshy, and the picture of mirth. Indeed to see him walking even along the company street was enough to call forth laughter either at him as he waddled along or at the humorous remarks the act called forth from onlooking cadets.

He was confined to one of the guard tents by order of the commandant, and directed by him to submit a written explanation for eating all the sandwiches of the guard. The explanation was unsatisfactory, and the gentleman received some other light punishment, the nature of which has at this late day escaped my memory.

The other plebe, being only a particeps criminis, was not so severely punished. A reprimand, I think, was the extent of his punishment.

The two gentlemen have long since gone where the "woodbine twineth"—that is, been found deficient in studies and dismissed.

There was a cadet in the corps who had a wonderful propensity for using the word "mighty."

With him everything was "mighty." I honestly do not believe I ever heard him conversing when he did not use "mighty."

Speaking of me one day, and unconscious of my presence, he said, "I tell you he does 'mighty' well."

During drill at the siege battery on the 25th of April, 1876, an accident occurred which came near proving fatal to one of us. I had myself just fired an 8-inch howitzer, and gone to the rear to observe the effect of the other shots. One piece had been fired, and the command for the next to fire had been given. I was watching intently the target when I was startled by the cry of some one near me, "Look out! look out!" I turned my eyes instinctively toward the piece just fired, but saw only smoke. I then looked up and saw a huge black body of some kind moving rapidly over our heads. It was not until the smoke had nearly disappeared that I knew what was the cause of the disturbance. A number of cannoneers and our instructor were vociferously asking, "Anybody hurt? Anybody hurt?" We all moved up to the piece, and, finding no one was injured, examined it. The piece, a 41/2-inch rifle, mounted on a siege carriage, had broken obliquely from the trunnions downward and to the rear. The re-enforce thus severed from the chase broke into three parts, the nob of the cascabel, and the other portion split in the direction of the bore. The right half of the re-enforce, together with the nob of the cascabel, were projected into the air, describing a curve over our heads, and falling at about twenty feet from the right of the battery, having passed over a horizontal distance of about sixty or seventy feet. The left half was thrown obliquely to the ground, tearing away in its passage the left cheek of the carriage, and breaking the left trunnion plate. A cannoneer was standing on the platform of the next piece on the left with the lanyard in his hand. His feet were on two adjacent deck planks, his heels being on line with the edge of the platform. These two planks were struck upon their ends, and moved bodily, with the cadet upon them, three or four inches from their proper place. The bolts that held them and the adjacent planks together were broken, while not the slightest injury was done the cadet.

It was hardly to be believed, and was not until two or three of the other cannoneers had examined him and found him really uninjured. It was simply miraculous. The instructor sent the cannoneers to the rear, and fired the next gun himself.

After securing the pieces and replacing equipments, we were permitted to again examine the bursted gun, after which the battery was dismissed.

There had been some difficulty in loading the piece, especially in getting the projectile home. It was supposed that this not being done properly caused the bursting.

I was one summer day enjoying a walk on "Flirtation." I was alone, and, if I remember aright, "on Old Guard privileges." Walking leisurely along I soon observed in front of me a number of young ladies, a servant girl, and several small children.

They were all busily occupied in gathering wild flowers, a kind of moss and ferns which grow here in abundance. I was first seen by one of the children, a little girl. She instantly fixed her eyes upon me, and began vociferating in a most joyous manner, "The colored cadet! the colored cadet! I'm going to tell mamma I've seen the colored cadet."

The servant girl endeavored to quiet her, but she continued as gayly as ever:

"It's the colored cadet! I'm going to tell mamma. I'm going to tell mamma I've seen the colored cadet."

All the others stopped gathering flowers, and watched me till I was out of sight.

A similar display of astonishment has occurred at every annual examination since I became a cadet, and on these occasions the ladies more than anybody else have been the ones to show it.

Whenever I took my place on the floor to receive my enunciation or to be questioned, I have observed whisperings, often audible, and gestures of surprise among the lady visitors. I have frequently heard such exclamations as this: "Oh! there's the colored cadet! there's the colored cadet!"

All of this naturally tended to confuse me, and it was only by determined effort that I maintained any degree of coolness. Of course they did not intend to confuse me. Nothing was, I dare say, further from their thoughts. But they were women; and it never occurs to a woman to think before she speaks.

It was rather laughable to hear a cadet, who was expounding the theory of twilight, say, pointing to his figure on the blackboard: "If a spectator should cross this limit of the crepuscular zone he would enter into final darkness."

Now "final darkness," as we usually understand it, refers to something having no resemblance whatever to the characteristics of the crepuscular zone.

The solemn manner in which he spoke it, together with their true significations, made the circumstance quite laughable.

The most ludicrous case of hazing I know of is, I think, the following:

For an unusual display of grossness a number of plebes were ordered by the cadet lieutenant on duty over them to report at his "house" at a specified hour. They duly reported their presence, and were directed to assume the position of the soldier, facing the wall until released. After silently watching them for a considerable time, the lieutenant, who had a remarkable penchant for joking, called two of them into the middle of the room. He caused them to stand dos dos, at a distance of about one foot from each other, and then bursting into a laugh, which he vainly endeavored to suppress, he commanded, "Second, exercise!"

Now to execute this movement the hands are extended vertically over the head and the hands joined. At the command "Two!" given when this is done, the arms are brought briskly forward and downward until the hands touch if possible the ground or floor. The plebes having gone through the first motion, the lieutenant thus cautioned them:

"When I say 'Two!' I want to see you men come down with life, and touch the floor. Two!"

At the command they both quickly, and "with life" brought their bodies forward and their arms downward; nay, they but attempted, for scarcely had they left the vertical ere their bodies collided, and they were each hurled impetuously, by the inevitable reaction in opposite directions, over a distance of several feet.

Their bodies being in an inclined position when struck, and the blow being of great force, they were necessarily forced still further from the erect attitude, and were with much difficulty able to keep themselves from falling outright on the floor. Of course all present, save those concerned, enjoyed it immensely. Indeed it was enjoyable. Even the plebes themselves had a hearty laugh over it when they were dismissed.

Again a cadet lieutenant, who was on duty at the time over the "Seps," ordered a number of them to report at his "house" at a given hour. They had been unusually gross, and he intended to punish them by keeping them standing in his quarters. They reported, and were put in position to serve their punishment. For some reason the lieutenant left the room, when one of the "Seps" faced to the others and thus spoke to them:

"Say, boys, let's kick up the devil. P—has gone out."

Now it so happened that P—'s chum was present, but in his alcove, and this was not known to the Seps. When the Sep had finished speaking, this chum came forth and "went for" him. He made the Sep assume the soldier's position, and then commanded, "Second, exercise!" which command the Sep proceeded to obey.

Another cadet coming in found him vigorously at it, and queried, "Well, mister, what's all that for?"

"Eccentricity of Mr. M—, sir," he promptly replied.

The word eccentricity was not interpreted by the cadet, of course, as the Sep meant it should be, but in the sense we use it when we speak of the eccentricity of an orbit for instance.

Hence it was that Mr. M—asked, "Well, sir, what's the expression for my eccentricity?"

There is another incident remotely connected with my first tour of guard duty which may be mentioned here.

At about eleven o'clock A.M., in obedience to a then recent order, my junior reported at the observatory to make the necessary observations for finding the error of the Tower clock. After an elaborate explanation by an officer then present upon the graduation of the vernier and the manner of reading it, the cadet set the finders so as to read the north polar distance of the sun for that day at West Point apparent noon. When it was about time for the sun's limb to begin its transit of the wires, the cadet took position to observe it. The instructor was standing ready to record the times of transit over each wire. Time was rapidly passing, and not yet had the cadet called out "Ready." The anxious instructor cautiously queried:

"Do you see any light, Mr. P—?,"

"No, sir."

"Can you see the wires?"

"No, sir, not yet."

"Any light yet, Mr. P—?"

"Yes, sir, it is getting brighter."

"Can you see the wires at all?"

"No, Sir; it keeps getting brighter, but I can't see the wires yet."

Fearing he might be unable to make his observations that day unless the difficulty was speedily removed, the instructor himself took position at the transit, and made the ridiculous discovery that the cap had not been removed from the farther end of the telescope, and yet it kept getting brighter.

One day in the early summer of 1875, a cadet was showing a young lady the various sights and wonders at West Point, when they came across an old French cannon bearing this inscription, viz., "Charles de Bourbon, Compte d'Eu, ultima ratio regum."

She was the first to notice it, and astonished the cadet with the following rendition of it:

"I suppose that means Charles Bourbon made the gun, and the Spanish (?) that the artilleryman must have his rations."

What innocence! Or shall I say, what ignorance?

"The authorities of West Point have entered an interdict against the cadets loaning their sashes and other military adornments to young ladies, and great is the force of feminine indignation." Summer of 1873.

COME KISS ME, LOVE.

A young lieutenant at the Academy and his fiance were seen by an old maid at the hotel to kiss each other. At the first opportunity she reproved the fair damsel for, to her, such unmaidenly conduct. With righteous indignation she repelled the reproof as follows:

"Not let S—kiss me! Why, I should die!" Then lovingly,

"Come kiss me, love, list not what they say, Their passions are cold, wasted away. They know not how two hearts like ours are Long to mingle i' the sweetness o' the kiss, That like the soft light of a heavenly star, As it wanders from its world to this, Diffuses itself through ev'ry vein And meets on the lips to melt again."



CHAPTER XV.

GRADUATION—IN THE ARMY.

"Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet."

MY four years were drawing to a close. They had been years of patient endurance and hard and persistent work, interspersed with bright oases of happiness and gladness and joy, as well as weary barren wastes of loneliness, isolation, unhappiness, and melancholy. I believe I have discharged—I know I have tried to do so—every duty faithfully and conscientiously. It had been a sort of bittersweet experience, this experimental life of mine at West Point. It was almost over, and whatever of pure sweetness, whatever of happiness, or whatever reward fortune had in store for me, was soon to become known.

"Speaking of the Military Academy, we understand that the only colored cadet now at West Point will not only graduate at the coming June commencement, but that his character, acquirements, and standing on the merit roll are such as will insure his graduation among the highest of his class."—Harper's Weekly, April 28th, 1877.

All recitations of the graduating class were discontinued on the last scholar day of May. On June 1st examination began. The class was first examined in mineralogy and geology. In this particular subject I "maxed it," made a thorough recitation. I was required to discuss the subject of "Mesozoic Time." After I had been examined in this subject Bishop Quintard, of Tennessee, a member of the Board of Visitors, sent for me, and personally congratulated me on my recitation of that day, as well as for my conduct during the whole four years. My hopes never were higher; I knew I would graduate. I felt it, and I made one last effort for rank. I wanted to graduate as high up as possible. I was not without success, as will subsequently appear. The New York Herald was pleased to speak as follows of my recitation in mineralogy and geology:

"To-day the examination of the first class in mineralogy and geology was completed, and the first section was partially examined in engineering. In the former studies the class acquitted themselves in a highly creditable manner, and several members have shown themselves possessed of abilities far above the average. The class has in its ranks a son of General B. F. Butler, Hon. John Bigelow's son, and sons of two ex-Confederate officers. Flipper, the colored cadet, was examined to-day, and produced a highly favorable impression upon the board not less by his ready and intelligent recitation than by his modest, unassuming, and gentlemanly manner. There is no doubt that he will pass, and he is said to have already ordered a cavalry uniform, showing that he has a predilection for that branch of the service."

The class was next examined in law. In this, also, I exceeded my most sanguine expectations, again "maxing it" on a thorough recitation. My subject was "Domicile." Senator Maxey, of the Board of Visitors, questioned me closely. The Bishop of Tennessee left his seat in the board, came outside when the section was dismissed, and shook my hand in hearty congratulation. These were the proudest moments of my life. Even some of my own classmates congratulated me on this recitation. All that loneliness, dreariness, and melancholy of the four years gone was forgotten. I lived only in the time being and was happy. I was succeeding, and was meeting with that success which humble effort never fails to attain.

The New York Tribune joins in with its good words as follows:

LIEUTENANT FLIPPER, THE COLORED GRADUATE OF WEST POINT.

"The examination of the first class in law will be completed tomorrow. The sections thus far called up have done very well. The colored cadet, Flipper, passed uncommonly well this morning, showing a practical knowledge of the subject very satisfactory to Senator Maxey, who questioned him closely, and to the rest of the board. He has a good command of plain and precise English, and his voice is full and pleasant. Mr. Flipper will be graduated next week with the respect of his instructors, and not the less of his fellows, who have carefully avoided intercourse with him. The quiet dignity which he has shown during this long isolation of four years has been really remarkable. Until another of his race, now in one of the lower classes, arrived, Flipper scarcely heard the sound of his own voice except in recitation, and it is to be feared that unless he is detailed at Howard University, which has been mentioned as possible, his trials have only begun."

The class was next examined in civil and military engineering. In this also I did as well as in either of the other studies. I made a thorough recitation. I was required to explain what is meant by an "order of battle," and to illustrate by the battles of Zama, Pharsalia, and Leuctra.

THE COLORED CADET.

"Flipper, the colored cadet from South Carolina, was up this afternoon and acquitted himself remarkably well. Some time since he was recommended for a higher grade than the one he holds, and his performance to-day gained him a still higher standing in the class."

In ordnance and gunnery the class was next examined. In this I was less successful. I was to assume one of Captain Didion's equations of the trajectory in air, and determine the angle of projection represented by phi, and the range represented by x in the following equation:

y = x tan. phi - gx2/2V2 B,

and to explain the construction and use of certain tables used in connection with it. I made a fair recitation, but one by no means satisfactory to myself. I lost four files on it at least. A good recitation in ordnance and gunnery would have brought me out forty- five or six instead of fifty. I did not make it, and it was too late to better it. This was the last of our examination. It ended on the 11th day of June. On the 14th we were graduated and received our diplomas.

During the examination I received letters of congratulation in every mail. Some of them may not be uninteresting. I give a few of them:

POST-OFFICE DEPARTMENT, ROOM 48, WASHINGTON, D.C., June 3, 1877.

MY DEAR MR. FLIPPER: It has been four years since I last addressed you. Then you had just entered the Academy with other young colored men, who have since dropped by the way. I was at that time the editor of the Era in this city, and wrote an article on West Point and snobocracy which you may remember reading.

I felt a thrill of pleasure here the other day when I read your name as the first graduate from the Academy. I take this opportunity of writing you again to extend my hearty congratulations, and trust your future career may be as successful as your academic one. "My boy," Whittaker, has, I am told, been rooming with you, and I trust has been getting much benefit from the association.

I am, your friend and well-wisher,

RICHARD T. GREENER.

42 BROAD STREET, NEW YORK, June 4, 1877.

CADET HENRY O. FLIPPER, West Point, N. Y.:

DEAR SIR: I have been much pleased reading the complimentary references to your approaching graduation which have appeared in the New York papers the past week. I beg to congratulate you most heartily, and I sincerely trust that the same intelligence and pluck which has enabled you to successfully complete your academic course may be shown in a still higher degree in the new sphere of duty soon to be entered upon.

I inclose an editorial from to-day's Tribune.

Respectfully, —.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C., June 5, 1877.

HENRY O. FLIPPER, Esq., U. S. Military Academy, West Point, N. Y.

DEAR SIR: Having noticed in the daily papers of this city an account of the successful termination of your course at the Military Academy, we hasten to tender you our sincere congratulations.

We are prompted to this act by an experimental knowledge of the social ostracism and treacherous duplicity to which you must have been made the unhappy victim during the long years of faithful study through which you have just passed.

We congratulate you upon the moral courage and untiring energy which must have been yours, to enable you to successfully battle against the immeasurable influence of the prejudice shown to all of us at both of our national schools. We hail your success as a national acknowledgment, in a new way, of the mental and moral worth of our race; and we feel amply repaid for the many privations we have undergone in the naval branch of our service, in noting the fact that one of us has been permitted to successfully stand the trying ordeal.

Trusting that the same firmness of purpose and untiring energy, which have characterized your stay there, may ever be true of your future career on the field and at the hearth side,

We remain, very truly yours, —, —.

POST-OFFICE, NEW YORK CITY, N. Y. OFFICE OF THE POSTMASTER, Wednesday, June 7, 1877.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Let me extend to you my full gratitude upon your success at West Point. I was overjoyed when I saw it. My friends are delighted with you, and they desire to see you when you come down. Let me know when you think you will leave West Point, and I will look out for you.

Very truly yours, — .

HENRY O. FLIPPER, ESQ., West Point Military Academy.



WASHINGTON, D. C., June 13, 1877.

HENRY O. FLIPPER, ESQ., West Point, N. Y.:

MY DEAR FRIEND: I wish to congratulate you upon passing successfully your final examination, and salute you as the first young colored man who has had the manhood and courage to struggle through and overcome every obstacle. So many of our young men had failed that I wondered if you would be able to withstand all the opposition you met with, whether you could endure the kind of life they mete out to our young men at our national Military Academy. I rejoice to know that you have won this important victory over prejudice and caste. This will serve you in good stead through many a conflict in life. Your path will not be all strewn with roses; something of that caste and prejudice will still pursue you as you enter the broader arena of military life, but you must make up your mind to live it down, and your first victory will greatly aid you in this direction. One thing, allow me to impress upon you: you are not fighting your own battle, but you are fighting the battle of a struggling people; and for this reason, my dear Flipper, resolve now in your deepest soul that come what may you will never surrender; that you will never succumb. Others may leave the service for more lucrative pursuits; your duty to your people and to yourself demand that you remain.

Be assured that whatever you do, wherever you may go, you always have my deepest sympathy and best wishes.

I return to Europe in a few weeks.

Cordially yours, —.

Even the cadets and other persons connected with the Academy congratulated me. Oh how happy I was! I prized these good words of the cadets above all others. They knew me thoroughly. They meant what they said, and I felt I was in some sense deserving of all I received from them by way of congratulation. Several visited my quarters. They did not hesitate to speak to me or shake hands with me before each other or any one else. All signs of ostracism were gone. All felt as if I was worthy of some regard, and did not fail to extend it to me.

At length, on June 14th, I received the reward of my labors, my "sheepskin," the United States Military Academy Diploma, that glorious passport to honor and distinction, if the bearer do never disgrace it.

Here is the manner of ceremony we had on that day, as reported in the New York Times:

"The concluding ceremony in the graduation exercises at the West Point Academy took place this morning, when the diplomas were awarded to the graduates. The ceremony took place in the open air under the shadow of the maple trees, which form almost a grove in front of the Academy building. Seats had been arranged here for the spectators, so as to leave a hollow square, on one side of which, behind a long table, sat the various dignitaries who were to take part in the proceedings. In front of them, seats were arranged for the graduating class. The cadets formed line in front of the barracks at 10.30, and, preceded by the band playing a stirring air, marched to the front of the Academy building. The first class came without their arms; the other classes formed a sort of escort of honor to them. The graduating class having taken their seats, the other classes stacked arms and remained standing in line around the square. The proceedings were opened by an address from Professor Thompson, of the School of Technology, Worcester Mass., who is the Chairman of the Board of Visitors."

And thus after four years of constant work amid many difficulties did I obtain my reward.

"Lieutenant H. O. Flipper was the only cadet who received the cheers of the assembled multitude at West Point upon receiving his parchment. How the fellows felt who couldn't associate with him we do not know; but as the old Christian woman said, they 'couldn't a been on the mountain top.'" —Christian Recorder.

Victor Hugo says somewhere in his works that he who drains a marsh must necessarily expect to hear the frogs croak. I had graduated, and of course the newspapers had to have a say about it. Some of the articles are really amusing. I couldn't help laughing at them when I read them. Here is something from the New York Herald which is literally true:

"MR. BLAINE AND THE COLORED CADET.

"Senator James G. Blaine, with his wife and daughter and Miss Dodge ('Gail Hamilton') left at noon yesterday in anticipation of the rush. Before going the Senator did a very gracious and kindly deed in an unostentatious way. Sending for Flipper, the colored cadet, he said:

"'I don't know that you have any political friends in your own State, Mr. Flipper, and you may find it necessary to have an intermediary in Congress to help you out of your difficulties. I want you to consider me your friend, and call upon me for aid when you need it.'

"With that he shook the lad's hand and bade him good-by.

"Bishop Quintard, of Tennessee, and Senator Maxey, of Texas, also complimented the pioneer graduate of the colored race upon his conduct throughout the four years of his training, and proffered their sympathy and assistance. With these encouragements from prominent men of both political parties the young man seemed deeply touched, and thanking them suitably he returned with a light heart to his quarters."

It was so very kind of the distinguished senators and bishop. I valued these congratulations almost as much as my diploma. They were worth working and enduring for.

The New York Herald again speaks, and that about not hearing my voice, etc., made me "larf." Here is the article:

"THE COLORED CADET'S EXPERIENCE AND PROSPECTS.

"Flipper, the colored cadet, who graduates pretty well up in his class, said to me to-day that he is determined to get into either the Ninth or Tenth colored cavalry regiment if possible. He seems to be very happy in view of the honorable close of his academic career, and entertains little doubt that he can procure the appointment he wishes. When asked whether he was not aware that there was a law providing that even colored troops must be officered by white men, he replied that he had heard something of that years ago, but did not think it was true. 'If there is such a law,' he said emphatically, but with good humor, 'it is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.' He added that several weeks ago he wrote to a prominent gentleman in Alabama to inquire what the existing law on the subject was, and had not yet received an answer. I questioned him about his experience in the Academy, And he said that he had suffered but little on account of his race. The first year was very hard, as the class all made their dislike manifest in a variety of ways. 'That,' he said, 'was in a great measure caused by the bad conduct of Smith, the colored cadet who preceded me. When the class found out that I was not like him, they treated me well. The professors act toward me in every respect as toward the others, and the cadets, I think, do not dislike me. But they don't associate with me. I don't care for that. If they don't want to speak to me I don't want them to, I'm sure.' Save in the recitation- room Flipper never heard the sound of his own voice for months and months at a time; but he was kept so hard at work all the time that he did not mind it. If he should join a regiment, however, he would be more alone even than he has been here, for the association with other officers in the line of duty would not be so close as it has been with the cadets. He would be isolated— ostracized—and he would feel it more keenly, because he would have more leisure for social intercourse, and his mind would not be so occupied as it has been here with studies.

"Senator Blaine, in the course of a conversation last night, thought the career of Flipper would be to go South and become a leader of his race. He could in that way become famous, and could accomplish much good for the country." . . . .

When I entered the Academy I saw in a paper something about colored officers being put in white regiments, etc. It purported to be a conversation with the then Secretary of War, who said there was such a law, and that it would be enforced. The then Secretary of War has since told me he was sure there was such a law, until to satisfy himself he searched the Revised Statutes, when he found he was mistaken.

I have mentioned elsewhere the untruthfulness of the statement that I never heard my own voice except in The recitation-room. Every one must know that could not be true. The statement is hardly worth a passing remark.

"If he should join a regiment, however," etc. Ah! well, I have joined my regiment long ago. Let me say, before I go further, I am putting this manuscript in shape for the press, and doing it in my quarters at Fort Sill, I. T. These remarks are inserted apropos of this article. From the moment I reached Sill I haven't experienced any thing but happiness. I am not isolated. I am not ostracized by a single officer. I do not "feel it more keenly," because what the Herald said is not true. The Herald, like other papers, forgets that the army is officered by men who are presumably officers and gentlemen. Those who are will treat me as become gentlemen, as they do, and those who are not I will thank if they will "ostracize" me, for if they don't I will certainly "ostracize" them.

"But to get into a cavalry regiment is the highest ambition of most cadets, and failing in that it is almost a toss-up between the infantry and the artillery. Flipper, the South Carolina colored cadet, wants to get into the cavalry, and as there is a black regiment of that character he will, it is thought, be assigned to that. There is in existence a law specifying that even black regiments shall be officered by white men, and it is thought there will be some trouble in assigning Flipper. As any such law is in opposition to the constitutional amendments, of course it will be easily rescinded. From the disposition shown by most of the enlisted men with whom I have conversed at odd times upon this subject, I fancy that if Flipper were appointed to the command of white soldiers they would be restive, and would, if out upon a scout, take the first opportunity to shoot him; and this feeling exists even among men here who have learned to respect him for what he is."

Now that is laughable, isn't it? What he says about the soldiers at West Point is all "bosh." Nobody will believe it. I don't. I wish the Herald reporter who wrote the above would visit Fort Sill and ask some of the white soldiers there what they think of me. I am afraid the Herald didn't get its "gift of prophecy" I from the right place. Such blunders are wholly inexcusable. The Herald reporter deserves an "extra" (vide Cant Terms, etc.) for that. I wish he could get one at any rate. Perhaps, however, the following will excuse him. It is true.

"He is spoken of by all the officers as a hard student and a gentleman. To a very great extent he has conquered the prejudices of his fellows, and although they still decline to associate with him it is evident that they respect him. Said one of his class this morning: 'Flipper has certainly shown pluck and gentlemanly qualities, and I shall certainly shake his "flipper" when we say "Good-by." We have no feeling against him at all, but we could not associate with him. You see we are so crowded together here that we are just like one family, possessing every thing in common and borrowing every thing, even to a pair of white trousers, and we could not hold such intimate fellowship with him. It may be prejudice, but we could not do it; so we simply let him alone, and he has lived to himself, except when we drill with him. Feel bad about it? Well, I suppose he did at first, but he has got used to it now. The boys were rather afraid that when he should come to hold the position as officer of the guard that he would swagger over them, but he showed good sense and taste, merely assuming the rank formally and leaving his junior to carry out the duty.'"

That glorious day of graduation marked a new epoch in my military life. Then my fellow-cadets and myself forgot the past. Then they atoned for past conduct and welcomed me as one of them as well as one among them.

I must revert to that Herald's article just to show how absurd it is to say I never heard the sound of my own voice except in the section-room. I heard it at reveille, at breakfast, dinner, and supper roll- calls, at the table, at taps, and at every parade I attended during the day—in all no less than ten or twelve times every single day during the four years. Of course I heard it in other places, as I have explained elsewhere. I always had somebody to talk to every single day I was at the Academy. Why, I was the happiest man in the institution, except when I'd get brooding over my loneliness, etc. Such moments would come, when it would seem nothing would interest me. When they were gone I was again as cheerful and as happy as ever. I learned to hate holidays. At those times the other cadets would go off skating, rowing, or visiting. I had no where to go except to walk around the grounds, which I sometimes did. I more often remained in my quarters. At these times barracks would be deserted and I would get so lonely and melancholy I wouldn't know what to do. It was on an occasion like this— Thanksgiving Day—I wrote the words given in another place, beginning,

"Oh! 'tis hard this lonely living, to be In the midst of life so solitary," etc.

Here is something from Harper's Weekly. The northern press generally speak in the same tenor of my graduation.

"Inman Edward Page, a colored student at Brown University, has succeeded in every respect better than his brother Flipper at West Point. While a rigid non-intercourse law was for four years maintained between Flipper and the nascent warriors at the Military Academy, Page has lived in the largest-leaved clover at Brown, and in the Senior year just closed was chosen Class-day Orator—a position so much coveted among students ambitious for class honors that it is ranked by many even higher than the Salutatory or the Valedictory. Page has throughout been treated by his classmates as one of themselves. He is a good writer and speaker, though not noticeably better than some of his classmates. His conduct has been uniformly modest but self-respectful, and he had won the esteem of professors as well as students. The deportment of his class toward him is in high and honorable contrast with that pursued by the less manly students supported by the government at West Point, who may have already learned that the 'plain people' of the country are with Flipper."

Here is something of a slightly different kind from a Georgia paper—Augusta Chronicle and Constitutionalist. Its tone betrays the locality of its birth.

"Benjamin F. Butler, Jr., who graduated at West Point last summer in the same class with the colored cadet from Georgia, Flipper, has been assigned for duty to the Ninth Cavalry, the same regiment to which Flipper is attached. The enlisted men in this regiment are all negroes. Ben, senior, doubtless engineered the assignment in order to make himself solid with the colored voters of the South. Ben, like old Joe Bagstock, is devilish sly."

It is in error as to my assignment. Lieutenant Butler (whose name, by the way, is not Benjamin F., Jr.) was assigned to the Ninth Cavalry. Here is the truth about my assignment, given in the Sing Sing (N. Y.) Republican:

"Cadet Flipper has been appointed to the Tenth U. S. Cavalry (colored), now in Texas. Secretary of State Bigelow's son has also been assigned to the same regiment. We wonder if the non-intercourse between the two at West Point will be continued in the army. Both have the same rank and are entitled to the same privileges. Possibly a campaign among the Indians, or a brush with the 'Greasers' on the Rio Grande, will equalize the complexion of the two."

The National Monitor, of Brooklyn (N. Y.), has this much to say. It may be worth some study by the cadets now at the Academy.

"Lieutenant Flipper, colored, a recent graduate from West Point, is a modest gentleman, and no grumbler. He says that privately he was treated by fellow-cadets with proper consideration, but reluctantly admits that he was publicly slighted. He can afford to be untroubled and magnanimous. How is it with his fellows? Will not shame ere long mantle their cheeks at the recollection of this lack of moral courage on their part? A quality far more to be desired than any amount of physical heroism they may ever exhibit."

Here is something extra good from the Hudson River Chronicle, of Sing Sing. To all who want to know the truth about me physically, I refer them to this article. I refer particularly to the editor of a certain New Orleans paper, who described me as a "little bow-legged grif of the most darkly coppery hue."

"For a few days past Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper, the colored cadet who graduated from West Point Academy last week, has been the guest of Professor John W. Hoffman, of this place. Lieutenant Flipper is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, whence General Sherman commenced that glorious march to the sea which proved what a hollow shell the Southern Confederacy really was. The lieutenant evidently has a large strain of white blood in his veins, and could probably, if so disposed, trace descent from the F. F's. He stands six feet, is well proportioned, has a keen, quick eye, a gentlemanly address, and a soldierly bearing. He goes from here to his home in Georgia, on a leave of absence which extends to the first of November, when he will join the Tenth Cavalry, to which he has been assigned as Second Lieutenant. This assignment shows that Lieutenant Flipper stood above the average of the graduating class, as the cavalry is the next to the highest grade in the service—only the Engineer Corps taking precedence of the cavalry arm.

"For four long years Cadet Flipper has led an isolated life at the Point—without one social companion, being absolutely ostracized by his white classmates. As much as any mortal, he can say:

"'In the crowd They would not deem me one of such; I stood Among them, but not of them; in a shroud Of thoughts which were not their thoughts.'

"There must have been much of inherent manhood in a boy that could stand that long ordeal, and so bear himself at the close that, when his name was pronounced among the graduates, the fair women and brave men who had gathered to witness the going out into the world of the nation's wards, with one accord greeted the lone student with a round of applause that welcomed none others of the class, and that could call from Speaker Blaine the strong assurance that if he ever needed a friend he might trustingly call on him.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse