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How Eggnog Led To The Largest Expulsion In West Point’s History
When he became superintendent of West Point in 1817, Col. Sylvanus Thayer set out turn the Army academy into a well-respected institution. Prior to his tenure, the school consisted of roughly 10 or so students taught by three professors. In order to change that, Thayer implemented a rigorous curriculum and regimented living standards for West Point cadets. But this decision backfired on Dec. 24, 1826.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, Eggnog itself has a particular history within the U.S. Army. Even George Washington is said to have had a special recipe for it. While the drink was previously a traditional part of West Point's annual Christmas celebration, Thayer prohibited alcohol with the exceptions of Fourth of July and Christmas. However, due to inappropriate behavior that year caused by drinking on Independence Day, Thayer extended the ban to Christmas, ultimately prompting his students to rebel.
In order to carry out their own Christmas festivities, a number of cadets set to work smuggling alcohol onto the campus, reported Havok Journal.
One such cadet was Jefferson Davis — future president of the Confederacy. He and a number of other students ventured over to a local tavern called Benny Haven, where they were allowed to barter items like blankets for alcohol. Since Thayer’s moratorium didn’t extend past the walls of West Point, the students faced no obstacles obtaining alcohol off campus.
The students crossed the Hudson where the bars were located and smuggled the contraband back onto campus, up to the North Barracks.
That night, there were two officers monitoring the living quarters: Lt. William A. Thornton and Capt. Ethan Allen Hitchcock.
At midnight, Lapham’s Quarterly reported, there were nine cadets celebrating in one room. Eventually, the party expanded to include multiple rooms. By 2 a.m., the party turned raucous with the cadets, now inebriated, singing and carrying on.
At nearly 4 a.m., Hitchcock heard the noise below through the floorboards and proceeded upstairs to read the group the Riot Act, which declared a gathering of 12 or more people unlawfully assembled. Assuming this action was enough to quiet the group, he left.
Riled up by Hitchcock’s attempt to curtail the festivities, this particular group decided to torment him. One cadet yelled, “Get your dirks and bayonets … and pistols if you have them. Before this night is over, Hitchcock will be dead!”
Downstairs, an even louder party was in full swing. Hitchcock went down to inspect. Late to realize, but intent on warning the others, Davis came stumbling out to one of the rooms, yelling, “Put away the grog boys! Captain Hitchcock's coming!” But Hitchcock was already there, and he instructed Davis to go to bed.
Then, the riot ensued.
In his book, “The Eggnog Riot: The Christmas Mutiny at West Point,” James B. Agnew wrote that what happened thereafter was an all-out brawl between drunk students, sober students, and faculty.
Nearly 100 cadets took part in the riot overall. By the end of the night, the debauchery led to broken windows and furniture, unsheathed swords, one loaded pistol, and two assaulted officers.
The riot lasted two hours, until the 6 a.m. reveille. By the time roll call came, a number of the students were still too drunk to be hungover.
In listening to Hitchcock, Davis managed to evade punishment, as did his future general, Robert E. Lee. But his roommate was the one who held the loaded gun.
Though 90 students could have been indicted, Thayer chose only to charge the most aggressive cadets. After nearly a month of inquiries, 19 cadets were court-martialed for the riot. The trials began on Jan. 26, 1827, and ended on March 8, 1827.
In the end, 11 cadets were expelled from West Point, making it the largest mass expulsion in the school’s history, all thanks to eggnog.
More than 7,500 boots on display at Fort Bragg this month served as a temporary memorial to service members from all branches who have died since 9/11.
The boots — which had the service members' photos and dates of death — were on display for Fort Bragg's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's annual Run, Honor and Remember 5k on May 18 and for the 82nd Airborne Division's run that kicked off All American Week.
"It shows the families the service members are still remembered, honored and not forgotten," said Charlotte Watson, program manager of Fort Bragg's Survivor Outreach Services.
After more than a decade of research and development and upwards of $500 million in funding, the Navy finally plans on testing its much-hyped electromagnetic railgun on a surface warship in a major milestone for the beleaguered weapons system, Navy documents reveal.
The Navy's latest Northwest Training and Testing draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Assessment (NWTT EIS/OEIS), first detailed by the Seattle Times on Friday, reveals that " the kinetic energy weapon (commonly referred to as the rail gun) will be tested aboard surface vessels, firing explosive and non-explosive projectiles at air- or sea-based targets."
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Congress fell short ahead of Memorial Day weekend, failing to pass legislation that would provide tax relief for the families of military personnel killed during their service.
Senators unanimously approved a version of the bipartisan Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act Tuesday sending it back to the House of Representatives, where it was tied to a retirement savings bill as an amendment, and passed Thursday.
When it got back to the Senate, the larger piece of legislation failed to pass and make its way to the President Trump's desk.
An NSA cyber weapon is reportedly being used against American cities by the very adversaries it was meant to target
In less than three years after the National Security Agency found itself subject to an unprecedentedly catastrophic hacking episode, one of the agency's most powerful cyber weapons is reportedly being turned against American cities with alarming frequency by the very foreign hackers it was once intended to counter.
The spectacle of hundreds of thousands of motorcycles roaring their way through the streets of Washington, D.C., to Memorial Day events as part of the annual Rolling Thunder veterans tribute will be a thing of the past after this coming weekend.
Former Army Sgt. Artie Muller, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran and co-founder of Rolling Thunder, said the logistics and costs of staging the event for Memorial Day, which falls on May 27 this year, were getting too out of hand to continue. The ride had become a tradition in D.C. since the first in 1988.
"It's just a lot of money," said the plainspoken Muller, who laced an interview with a few epithets of regret over having to shut down Rolling Thunder.