Tag Archives: West Point

Off the CUF at West Point

Little known fact: West Point’s Cadet Uniform Factory (CUF) stems from an 1878 act of Congress and operates under regulation 10 USC 4340. No lowest bidder or overseas contractors here.

As noted by West Point Magazine in 2016:

CUF Manager Joe Weikel describes its mission: “to manufacture and supply uniforms and services to the Corps of Cadets at cost. The cadets purchase these uniforms. We cut, sew, alter, and repair these garments and provide those services to the cadets at cost. They are paying for the Full Dress Coat’s 44 gold-plated buttons, the 16-ounce wool used in all of the gray uniforms, the 32-ounce wool in the black parka, the zippers, shoulder pads, the sleeve heads, and all 300 or so other raw materials that go into our product lines: as well as my salary, and the salaries of the 45 employees, as well as the government’s share of the benefits paid to the employees of the uniform factory. All of that gets wrapped up into our garment pricing. Each year we calculate how many minutes we spent and whose minutes they were, because there are different salary rates on each garment, and allocate those minutes and dollars towards that garment, then add in the employee benefits and the amount of raw materials we used to make, for instance, the full dress coat. Divide that by the number that were produced, and you come out with the cost per unit made. Average that cost out after subtracting the remaining inventory, and you have the new price for a full dress coat—$676.01 this year.”

The USMA just posted a great video on the CUF and its continued operation.

The Long Gray Line and their endless gold bands

Occupied by the Continental Army in 1778, the strong point in a sharp S-bend above the Hudson River at West Point, New York was considered a strategic key to the region– which is why one of Washington’s most trusted generals, known then as “America’s Hannibal,” given command of the garrison there the next year.

“The Million Dollar View” from Trophy Point at the USMA, an easy way to see why West Point was the key to the Hudson River Valley in 1778.

Following the war, West Point was one of the few military installations retained by a cash-poor Congress, and by 1794, new cadet artillerists and engineers were being trained there. That made it a logical place to establish the U.S. Military Academy in 1801, some 43 years prior to Annapolis opening its doors. The first class, consisting of Joseph Gardner Swift (later, Colonel) and Simeon Magruder Levy, matriculated in 1802.

Fast forward to the USMA’s bicentennial in 2002, and the West Point Association of Graduates assisted with a plan in which class rings worn by past cadets were donated, melted, and mixed into the gold used for the new rings of the rising First Class cadets.

The tradition continues today, with the most recent Ring Melt ceremony saw the 575th vintage ring recycled to help cast the new rings for the 2020 Class.

More here.

It’s never too late to return library books

From the USMA library at West Point:

These books were returned to us this week by the son of a former faculty member who taught in the Department of Economics, Government, and History from 1956-1962. These books predate formal departmental libraries and were likely office copies that were packed up with his belongings when he departed in 1962.

Alpha and Omega on display for one more week

West Point’s Museum, located on the campus of the U.S. Military Academy in New York, has had the first and last flags captured during the Revolutionary War on display for the past two years, but they are fixing to be returned to climate-controlled storage and it could be years before they are seen again.

Dubbed the Alpha and the Omega, the trophy flags were shown to Congress and eventually presented to Gen. Washington. Handed down to Washington’s step-grandson and adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis. Custis gave them to the War Department in 1858 for preservation and they have been at West Point for safekeeping ever since.

King’s Color of the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers), captured at Ft. Chambly, Quebec, on the 17th of October, 1775, and was the first enemy flag captured by the US Army. (Photo courtesy West Point Museum Collection)

When the Rebel forces invaded Canada in 1775, the regiment’s colors were in storage at Fort Chambly on the Richelieu River. The Rebels laid siege to that post with over 400 men and two galleys armed with heavy cannon. The primitive stone installation, built in 1711, was never intended to be defensible against armies armed with cannons. The 83 men defending the post capitulated very quickly. With the surrender of the fort, the colors of the 7th Regiment were captured by the Rebels. The men of the 7th taken prisoner during the defence of Canada were exchanged in British-held New York City in December 1776 and the unit went on to survive until it was amalgamated in 1968 with several other regiments to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimea, Boer Wars, and both World Wars.

The final regiment to surrender in the War of Independence was the Ansbach-Bayreuth Regiment, a German mercenary unit in service to the British Crown, surrendered on 19 October 1781 at Yorktown. (Photo courtesy West Point Museum Collection)

It was sent to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia as a trophy and is one of a few regimental trophy flags to survive. This flag is made of white silk damask. One side features a wreath of a green palm and a laurel branch tied with pink ribbon around a crown with the letters “M.Z.B.” for Markgraf zu Brandenburg over date “1775.” A scroll bears the motto, pro principe patria or for prince and fatherland. The other side bears the monogram “S.E.T.C.A.” Sincere et Constanter, Alexander, or truthfully and steadfastly, Alexander, which is motto of the Prussian order of the Red Eagle and the Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach-Bayreut. The regiment was formed in two battalions specifically for overseas service to Britain in 1775, arriving in New York in June 1777.

They go off display on Dec. 10, so if you are in the area…

Meet Bridget, she like long walks, and taking shots at the Kaiser’s men across No Man’s Land

The gun that fired the first American shot at Sommerville, near Nancy Oct 23 1917

The 75mm artillery piece that cranked out the first U.S. shot on the Western Front in World War I a century ago last week is still in the Army’s custody.

The M1897 gun, a French-made field gun named “Bridget” is on display today in the Large Weapons Gallery at the U.S. Army Military Academy Museum at West Point but on Oct. 23, 1917, it fired the first shot across “No Man’s Land” by American forces in France.

This map purports to illustrate America’s first artillery salvo of the war, fired on October 23, 1917, by guns in the American 1st Division. Sergeant Alexander Arch barked the order “fire” to the crew manning the 75mm field gun. U.S. Army. First Sector Occupied by Americans 1917, inscribed: “First shot in the war Oct. 23, 1917 6:30 am. . . .” U.S. Army base map, 1918. Printed map annotated in color. Hines Collection, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (195.00.00)

The gun was sent back to the states in 1918 and is at West Point today, still with the names of the “First Shot” crew who fired it 100 years ago last week.

More in my column at Guns.com