Reminiscences of Days in The Citadel 1858-1861
Reminiscenses of days in the Citadel. 1858-1861. by C. Irvine Walker Old Dr. Hume, a civilian, was Professor of Philosophy and Chemistry. He never could take to the System of marks for recitation. For example, Thurston, of my class was called up and made a total failure,- but Dr. Hume said 'Well Thurston, I will give you 3, (the best daily mark) I used to know your mother on Sullivan's Island." -Press Smith of the class ahead of me, intending to become a physician, paid much attention to Chemistry and. won the favor of Dr. Hume. When Porcher Smith, of the class below me, came to Dr. Hume's recitation, he was called up and. made a failure. Dr. Hume asked him if he was a brother of Press Smith and When told he was, the old. Doctor gave him 3 for his brother's good record.. His marks were so unfair that the Board of Visitors determined to throw them all out. I then took little interest in Chemistry, so usually got on a back bench to either study my next lesson or take a nap. I was awakened from a nap by Dr. Hume calling out, Mr. Walker, you will steal a sheep.- I jumped up and asked him how was that? He answered that "any man who would steep in God's daylight was stealing from his Maker and any man who would steal from his Maker would steal a sheep. Mr. Walker you would steal a sheep." The various professors were required to act as officer in charge and in their turn drill the Corps. Dr.Hume, with great dismay, took the Corps out on a Drill. He fell down in front, the Corps marched over him and halted against the King Street Fence. Dr Hume cot up, called the Cadet Captain and. pointing to the Sally Port, told him to take the Corps there, as he was going home.
-2- In old days it was the fashion for the people of the City to parade up and down King Street in the Winter and on the Battery in the Summer, on Saturday afternoon. A Cadet, drunk, debouched from Beresford Street, then a disreputable street, on this crowd. I came out of Wentworth Street and found. several Cadets rushing up to the Citadel, and they beckoned to me to join them. They told me what had occurred and said. they were on their way to the Citadel to gain permission to strip off the Cadet's uniform and kick him out of the Institution. We found the Superintendent would not allow this, but told US that if we gave the Cadet's name he would have him properly punished.. We declined as we were not on official duty and would not report a fellow cadet. The Superintendent rose and. said "excuse me a moment" and. left us in his office. He went down to the Guard Room, put a sharp question to Corporal Paul Hamilton, who thought we had. told. and rushed down town to find the Cadet. The Cadet had been arrested by the police and carried to the Station. The next morning he was discharged and. I never heard of him again. Another unpleasant incident.- The ethics, whether right or wrong, in the Citadel was that any man just trying to get through could. receive any assistance in his recitations from a fellow Cadet. But not so, if he was running for a position. We were in "Shades and Shadows" where the drawing of the problem was the recitation. After finishing such drawing it was handed to the professor and the Cadet left the Class Room. One of those running for a position could not do his problem and when Roberts finished his, he asked
to be allowed to copy it. Roberts gave it to him and told him to hand it in when the hour was up. After the recitation Capt. White found no drawing from Roberts, so called. on him for the same. Roberts said he had. asked Cadet _______ to hand it in for him. He also asked to be allowed to look over the drawings and he would find his. He did so and found that Cadet had not had time to copy it, so had torn off Robert's name and put his name instead. There was great indignation in the Class and we asked the Superintendent, Maj Capers to allow us to confer with him. We stated the case and specified other shortcomings of Cadet _______. Maj. Capers said that the class would not act as a whole, which would be a combination prohibited by the Regulations and that one man should prerfer the charges. The class asked me to act for them and in so doing I never took a step without the concurrence of every member. Cadet _______ had attacked Roberts on the Parade Ground, and evidently was disposedd to fight . I went to Cadet _______ and told him if he would leave, we would drop proceedings. I expected to get a beating, but did not. He declined. The next morning Prof. Stevens came to my room and said that if left to the Faculty justice would be done and asked me if we were willing. I consulted the Class and we allowed it. Really I think Cadet ______ was of a family of great influence and prestige in the State and the Faculty had to act with discretion to avoid making enemies for the Institution. Cadet ___________ was required to stand up in Chapel before the whole Corps and admit the wrong he was accused of and was then honourably discharged..
One of the occupants of the four Cadet Quarters on the East side of the second floor, had received a box of goodies from home and asked. his friends to join. him in enjoying the same, after the Officer in charge had made his evening rounds. We all attended and were enjoying the feast, when the Officer in Charge, Lt. Armstrong, returning down the northeastern stairway heard the natural commotion, knocked and entered. There was a great scatteration for any available cover to hide. Amory Coffin, I well remember, dodged behind a table, but alas it had only bare legs and he was caught. Results all reported for visiting in study hours. In the Drawing Class, I had had some previous instruction and was thus clear ahead of my classmates. The Professor would mark about a half dozen of us 15 and specially reward me with 15 and a star. The star did not count, and as I was running for a position, I always felt that this empty honor, was not my just reward. I entered the Citadel in the third. class. During that year I simply tried to,do my duty in my studies, but at the end of the year I was much surprised to find my way near the to and that the men who led in the fourth class year had dropped way below me. This aroused my ambition and during second class year I just did all I could and at its end found. I had a clean lead for standing first. During first class year I only had to keep the lead.. I well remember that in Mathematics, daring the first session second class year, I only failed to make 15, twice, once being cut to l4 3/4 and once to 14 1/2. During the second session I made 15 every week.
When I entered, there were about 25 applicants. The Barracks were crowded and there really was no more Cadets wanted. So, a pressure was put on us at the entrance examination. The remit was only nine out of the number passed. After working all day, we were advised that none had passed:, but some of the papers were of sufficient merit to justify farther trial. Mine was among them. Three of us, Johnnie Whilder, Amory Coffin and myself had come down from Jenkins wards military School at Yorkville. I was working away, when Prof. Ellison Capers, who had just been appointed. Assistant Professor, stood behind me, looking over my shoulders. I had been Adjutant at Yorkville and had a lot of gold lace on my sleeve. I asked Prof. Capers what he thought of my chances. Touching the said gold lace, he told me that I was all right. I always thought that to support the K.M.H.S. controlled by Graduates from the Citadel, that the Faculty had determined to admit at least two of us and as Whilden and myself had stood. first and second from Yorkville, they determined to admit us. Amory Coffin had to wait a year before he got in. At one time the Board engaged Prof. Robinson to teach the Corps singing. He was thoroughly unfamiliar with Cadet habits and made a complete failure. He caught W.B.Guerard in some misdemeanor and asked his name. Gerard, correctly as to facts, bat with serious error in pronunciation, answered William Bullguerard. The Professor looked down the roll and could not find the name in the B's and Gerard got off.
Another day, Turnbull was coming back to the Citadel, riding in the omnibus, which in those days ran up King Street, when one of the occupants enquired as to what repairs were going on in the Citadel, as he had heard considerable sawing, hammering etc. That was our singing. John O. Wilson, afterwards a Methodist Divine and President of Lander College, was up to all mischief. He had a bottle of Bay Rum on the mantel, turned so that only the "Rum" on the label was visible. The Officer in Charge, seeing it, thought he had caught Wilson in possession of unauthorized refreshment. But Wilson turned the bottle showing what it really was. ��������^�^�� ������^ The office of Lieutenant and Qr.Master was in early days called "Bursar". The Board decided to give the proper military title. The Superintendent placed upon my desk, as Adjutant, an order malking Bursar Mazyck, Lieut. Qr.Master, for publication at dress parade in the afternoon. I thought I would have some fun, so quickly let it out that a Lieut. was to be appointed that afternoon. Of course it was soon all over barracks and great excitement was aroused as to who the fortunate man was to be. When I read out the order at Dress Parade, there was a loud laugh run down the line, in which I joined. Next morning, after I had completed my office duties, Supt. Stevens carried me into the Library. He began to praise me and as his encomiums rose I feared, as I did not understand, a deeper fall. He closed by saying that he was shocked that with such a record for good behavior, that in the
face of the whole Corps I had made fun of an order of the Board of Visitors. I told him the joke and as he had been a Cadet, he appreciated it and let me off with a report for laughing on Dress parade. I went at once to Lt. Mazyck, and explained it to him. In those days there existed in the Community, reflected of course in the Cadet Corps, a strong feeling of social class distinction. This had brought about such an unpleasant mixture at the Graduating Balls, that thy had to be discontinued. When our class graduated we determined to have a Ball. To obviate the social trouble, we had a self constituted Committee to get up the Ball and only those Cadets whom this Committee invited could attend. It was a grand success. In one of the square dances, I had the honor of dancing vis a vis, with Genl. Beauregard. Round dances were then very few and only your people who were particularly intimate could dance them together. Fortunately for me, there were several young ladies at the Ball with whom I could so dance. I can never forget a "Deux Temps", a lively dance, which I had with a young Iady, the Band playing Dixie. The state had then only recently seceded and Dixie was all the rage. General, afterwards bishop Capers, told me this story. A lot of the Cadets broke garrison limits one night, dressed of course in citizens clothes. There was but one door of exit, except the guarded Sally Port and that was through Supt. Capers' kitchen. Ellison, a younger brother of the Superintendent arranged with the cook to let them out and await their return to let them in. When
the party returned they knocked, but the cook had dropped asleep. Knocking harder they aroused Supt. Capers, who from a window called to know what was wanted. The boys were up to it and pretended they were a drunken crowd and staggered off. When all was quiet the cook, aroused and alarmed, let them in. My roommate in second class was Alex Colcolough of Sumter, one of the cream of the earth so far as his manly character was concerned, but not intellectually bright. When we name to the Pons Asinorum proposition in Descriptive Geography he was Just simply stumped. I put up a blanket over the sky light and sat up with Alex until midnight explaining. He acknowledged a perfect comprehension. Next morning he was called up and made an utter failure. We had in our room a translation to the French hook we were studying. So every morning, after breakfast, we had a French Conference open to the whole class, so we were well up on our recitations. French was taught by an English speaking Professor, so while we learned the grammar of the language we learned little of the pronunciation and idiums. We could read French, but not speak it understandingly. A new Professor had been appointed to teach French and made it a habit to answer "Oui Monsieur" to every question. LaLane, who was born and raised in a French family, got up a scheme. He rattled off an excuse for the class and asked to be excused from the recitation. "Oui Monsieur" came from the Professor and the whole class picked up their books and left the section room.
Candle Breakfasts. The only lights we had to study by was that that given out by cnadles. Several room mates, gathering around one candle, enabled the men to save candles. The Citadel, being in part a state armory, the Cadets had to walk guard all night. After guard mounting the old guard was excused from duty until dinner. The first duty of the old guard, after being relieved was to take breakfast. By giving the cook some of those candles we had saved the guard got an extra good breakfast, known as "Candle Breakfasts." After the Secession of the State, there was great excitement. To display their patriotic feelings, many flags, with quaint designs, expressing individual sentiment, were thrown to the breeze. Old Bill Trapier, a citizen slightly off balance mentally, had such a flag made and instead of presenting it formally to the Corps, slipped into the Guard Room and left a bundle containing the flag. During the night the Guard got hold of it and ran it up on the flag staff, then on the northern side of the Parade Ground, opposite the Sally Port. When the Superintendent came out in the morning, he ordered it pulled down and it was put in guard room. As we were rather short of Cadet officers, I, though Adjutant, went on duty as Officer of the Day at Guard mounting in the morning. About an hour afterwards I was told the flag was flying, from the roof, just over the Sally Port. I took it down put it back in the Guard Room. In about an hour it was flying from the northeast bastion. I again took it down and not caring to be further troubled, put it in the Superintendent's office.
It is told of old Bill, that on one occasion the Beats, the unorganized Militia - for in the slave-holding days all citizens not in the Volunteer Companies of Militia belonged to the Beats were ordered to parade. To make them as uniform as possible, the men were ordered to appear in black coats and white pants. Bill did not have a pair of white pants, so he turned out with a black coat and his white cotton drawers. Col. Thomas, professor of English, having to be absent for three days, gave our class three Lectures in Rhetoric, to recite on his return. We thought that was rather much for one recitation so the class resolved to be prepared. only on the first Lecture. When the second section of our class, of which I was Squad Marcher, was seated, I, speaking for the class, told the Professor that we were only prepared on the first Lecture. He insisted on our reciting on the three Lectures. we had agreed that if he so decided, that none of us would be prepared and take zero. He commenced calling up at the alphabetic end of the class. Wylie, "not prepared"; Wilson, "not prepared"; Whilden, who hesitated, and I was afraid. he was going to break the agreement, so ,dot up and asked Col. Thomas if we were to be held only the three Lectures or only the first; that brought Whilden, a most conscientious and beloved member of the class, to his senses and he "was not prepared" and so on through the section. Our idea was to take zero through the week and put all on an equality. Just before Tattoo, Boyleston came round and. said he and some others had determined to recede from the agreement. So I had to put a blanket over the ski light and do my best to be prepared for the next days recitation.
It was our habit, during study hours in the afternoon, after the Officers of the Day had made his rounds, to put down our beds and take naps. One of my, then, roommates, Louis R. Stark always laid down with a copy of Telamachus, in French and it always put him to sleep. So it was known as Louis' soporific He was in the next class to me and after graduation immediately went into service and in 1864 was made Adjutant of my Regiment. Riding along on Roods Tennessee Campaign, almost daily he would say, ''Well, Walker ever since my graduation I have tried to do my duty, but I never have had the luck to be in a big fight." At Franklin sent him for some information and he got shot in the knee. The next day I went to the hospital to see him. I asked what he now thought of a "big fight"? Bowing with the utmost graciousness he answered "that he was perfectly satisfied." In the summer of 1860 the Washington Light Infantry sent a company on an encampment and on their return were received with a big Parade, to which the Citadel Corps was invited. The parade was to be on Saturday, a holiday, so Maj. Stevens would not make it obligatory to attend. There was great rivalry between the W.L.I. and the Washington Artillery to gain the favor of the Cadets, so the friends of the W.L.I. were trying to get out as many as pos- sible. I was sent out on Friday to arrange the details of the parade and then received an invitation for the Corps to attend the Banquet, at the close of the parade. As I was a strong W.L.I. adherent I said nothing about the Banquet until the Corps was formed outside of the Citadel. The day was awfully hot and we were marched into the Banquet Hall and took our places at the tables. Everybody was thirsty
and no water in sight. In those days in preparing a Banquet, decanters of Brandy were at first placed on the tables, so to quench their thirst, the brandy bottles were attacked by the entire assemblage. Then when the Collation came in there was also brought champagne for the Americans and Lager beer for the Germans. Imagine the effect of such on the to of brandy! The entire party was more or less tight. I did not drink anything in those days and. I was excited, if not intoxicated by the atmosphere of the Hall. After the Banquet, we marched around town, leaving the various units at their armories. Capt. Small commanded and I was Adjutant. Next day I net Capt. Small and he told me he did not know where we had gone, but he trusted to me to carry them straight. Prof. Ellison Capers commanded the Cadets. He had no white pants for the parade, so borrowed a pair from Dargan of our class. On the march home Dargan was very unsteady Capers spoke to him. Dargan replied, -to a professor be it remembered- "you had better get out of those pants of mine." Stewart Simkins got to the window of his room when we reached barracks and hollered at a negro maid of Maj. Stevens, who was in tho small hard west of the building. Years after I asked him how that came about. He said he was the only man in his room, who was sober enough to get to the window to relieve their nausea. I never saw such a wholesale spirituous exhibition in my whole life. I do not know that I have ever in my life been under the influence of liquor. But once I had a strong suspicion. There was a large Dinner given at the Mills House and Maj. Stevens carried me as his Staff. I we seated at a table with all the Faculty. During the evening there was a period - how long- I know not - when I did
-13- not know what took place, for my Father came into the Dining Room and Mother told me next day that I had gotten up and went to him. I had no recollection thereof, but I must have kept straight, for after the Dinner, I went with -Prof. Capers to a meeting at the Institute Hall and then went up to the Citadel and stopped in the Guard Room some time and not a single soul ever said anything to me as to my not being in my good. senses. But it was a blessing to me as I then decided I never would place myself in such a condition that I did not know what I was doing. When the Confederat War broke out, a detachment of Cadets was sent down to Morris Island to man tho Star of the West Battery. I
was then sick at home, but as soon as I heard of it I reported for duty. Four of us were sent to Sullivan's Island to drill the fresh troops of Gregg's Regiment. I was assigned to the Marion Company, Capt. Graham, but acted as Adjutant of the post under Capt. Cicero Adams, Comdg. The Company was sent to the East end of the Island and there was a Battery of Light Artillery. Capt. Graham sent me down to show the men how to use the guns. I was non-plussed. They were to be fired with friction primers, which I had never seen. I arranged a makeshift for the night and next morning investigated and learned. how to use them. I was on Sullivans Island when the star of the West attempted to enter the harbor. Our manoeuvres were very amusing. All the troops hurried out and lined up on the the guns of Fort Sumter, just across the narrow harbor, were run out ready to fire. If they had opened what would have become of us? The first time I could catch Maj. Stevens I got transferred to Morris Island. The Cadets were cornered in three small rooms of a house near the Battery. My room had about twenty in it. It was about a foot deep in straw when our blankets were rolled down for the night every foot of the floor was covered. Our belongings were on shelves at the head of our sleeping places. Our friends in town kept us supplied with food, etc. among which was a two gallon demijohn of the "Oh be joyful" which was carefully hidden under the straw. When the order came, unexpectedly to return to the city, it was about half full. What to do with it was the question. We and our friends had to drink it, with the most hilarious results. I had to be summoned to the Officer in charge and directed to preserve order in my room, where I was the only Cadet officer. On the way to the coat, the march of many of us was rather unsteady.
I had passed all examinations etc. and was for the day at home. I came out of Father's home to go up to the Citadel to write the Valedictory Address, which was to come from the first honor man. As I stepped into the street I saw Morrison of my class, inc citizens clothes, I hailed him and he said we had all be graduated without formalities. This was done because of the approaching attack on Fort Sumter. We did not receive our diplomas, because they could not then be lithographed in the South. Subsequently they were lithographed, but I was in the Western Army and could not apply for mine. After the Institution was reestablished, I was given a special Diploma when, strange to say, I was a member of the Board of Visitors, issuing the same. One day I had to go down to the toilet, then on the ground floor, just before time for tapping of the steel for roll call. So I did not care to go upstairs again and waited. biding behind one of the large pillars. I was caught and reported. I made excuse, but Superintendent Capers sent for me. I well remember how he rebuked me. When the command is given "Right Face" you stand steady at the "Right and only run at the "Face". That was what you aught to have done. He did not excuse me. Once coming off Drill, as I passed. the Surgeon's Office, I noticed it open and he in it, so I thought I would stop and get excused from military duty. But when I got in I could not find anything the matter, but finally plead a bad corn on my foot. For that he put me in the hospital and prescribed a dose of Castor Oil. The Hospital steward. saw that you took all prescriptions. It was pretty generally under- stood that if one would take a dose of Castor Oil, one could. always get in the hospital.
- Reminiscences of Days in The Citadel 1858-1861
- Walker, C. Irvine
- A typescript by Walker that consists of anecdotes of events and cadet life, including the beginning of the Civil War.
- The Citadel and the American Civil War
- Contributing Institution:
- The Citadel Archives & Museum
- Media Type:
- Personal or Corporate Subject:
- Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina--Students--History--19th century
- Geographic Subject:
- South Carolina--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
- Shelving Locator:
- S.C. County:
- Charleston County (S.C.)
- Material Type:
- Copyright Status Statement:
- Digital image copyright 2011, The Citadel Archives & Museum. All rights reserved. For more information contact The Citadel Archives & Museum, Charleston, SC, 29409.