The Corps of Cadets
Come back here later for more stories and debunking... but in the meantime:
While the college instituted a system of military discipline as soon it opened its doors, the military training offered was not of high value. In 1887, the War Department instituted a regular inspection program of college military programs. After its review of the program at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, the War Department refused to recognize the military graduates of the college with any standing. This left the graduates of the college with no possibility whatsoever of pursuing a military career. Detractors referred to the military activities on the A&M campus as "military peacockery."
The litany of claims the university and its alumni make about the school's association with the U.S. Military are often quite highly embellished and often seem to constitute outright fabrication. The pattern of aggy military embellishments usually fall into a distinctive pattern of taking a number or date that can be verified and, by establishing a foundation for one small aspect of the claim, the university and its alumni represent the embellishments to the school's military "history" to be "substantiated."
The list of these outlandish claims and fabrications is extensive.
One claim, published on an aggypedia-style wiki site, asserts:
"Many Texas A&M graduates served during World War I. By 1918, 49% of all graduates of the college were in military service, more than any other school. In early September 1918, the entire senior class enlisted, with plans to send the younger students at staggered dates throughout the next year. Many of the seniors were fighting in France when the war ended two months later. Over 1,200 alumni served as commissioned officers.
These claims are absolutely not true. The early reports of the A&M College administrators to the legislature are available online. In the school's 1918 report, dated August 31, 1918, shows that from the day the school began operation in 1876 through August 31, 1917, a total of 18,501 students had enrolled at the college. 527 new students enrolled during the 1917-1918 year, so through Aug 31, 1918, a total of more than 19,000 students had enrolled at the college. Between October 4, 1876 and August 31, 1918, a 42 year period, only 1,472 people in total had graduated from the college. Of the 1,472 aggy graduates, 702 had entered military service. Of the 702 aggy graduates who served in the military agter their graduation, 668 had served as officers in either the Army or Navy.
So, the claim "By 1918, 49% of all graduates were in military service" is fraudulent. The truth is that during the first 42 years of the school's operations, 42% of its graduates (702 individuals) had served in the military at some time between 1876 and 1918. This number is far less, both as a raw number of individuals and an overall percentage of the school's graduates, than the number of West Point or Annapolis graduates who saw military service during the same period.
As the school's own archives report in the same 42 year period between when the school started operating and August 31, 1918, 565 additional individuals who had attended the school but who had dropped out, obtained commissions as military officers, making a total of 1,233 individuals who had enrolled at the school at some time had served in the military as officers. The claim roughly 1,200 former students served in WWI as officers is entirely fabricated. Roughly 1,200 students who had attended the college over its first 42 years of operations served in the military as officers at some time. The number of aggy alumni who served as officers during WWI is much less than 1,200 individuals. Also fabricated are the claims "in early September 1918, the entire senior class enlisted" and "many of the seniors were fighting in France when the war ended two months later. The fact is there is no record anyone can point to that college students were taken from classrooms in the U.S. in September 1918 and pressed into combat prior to the November 1918 armistice.
The administrators and alumni of the school know this type of dishonesty denigrates the military service of others by minimizing the relative contributions of other institutions, including the nation's service academies, yet these fabrications continue to be perpetuated by those associated with Texas A&M University.
Those associated with Texas A&M University also unreservedly claim "During WWII, 14,123 Aggies served as officers, more than any other school and more than the combined total of the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy."
Accordingly to Henry Dethloff, TAMU historian, the figure of 14,123 TAMU 'alumni' who served as officers is equally divided between those 'alumni' who were graduates and were then commissioned as reserve officers and those who dropped out and received commissions through other channels. Supposedly, the total number of TAMU 'alumni' who served in all branches in all ranks was 20,229.
According to the Annapolis Special Collections librarian, the number of USNA graduates who served as officers during WWII is 12,976. The Association of Graduates at West Point reports 9,802 West Point graduates served as officers during WWII. Hence, the number of individuals from West Point and Annapolis combined who graduated and served as officers during WWII exceeds the total number of TAMU 'alumni' who served including those who graduated from A&M and served as officers as well as those who attended A&M for as little as a day and later served as enlisted personnel. The number of actual TAMU graduates who served as officers during WWII is far, far less than the number of graduates of Annapolis or the number of graduates of West Point who served as officers during the war.
End of Compulsory ROTC Membership
The Morrill Act of 1862 required classes in agricultural and mechanical science be offered all students attending Land Grant colleges. Justin Morrill, the U.S. representative from Vermont, after whom the Act was named, lived but 10 miles from Norwich University, the nation's premier civilian institution of military instruction. Morrill clearly understood the importance of civilian instruction of military science and in the 1862 Act, Morrill also included the provision each Land Grant college offer classes in military science. The Act did not make classes in military science mandatory, the classes needed only to have been offered. Any requirement that students take military classes was at the option of the directors of each institution.
In its early days Texas A&M was considered a reformatory school where parents of incorrigible and delinquent farm boys as young as 13 years of age could be sent to learn farming skills and to be instilled with some sense of discipline. Because of the reform school culture of the institution, the directors of A&M instituted mandatory participation in the school's military-style Corps of Cadets.As William Trenckmann, A&M Class of 1879 put it,
"Many parents imagined that the military discipline at A&M would prove a one-all for their wayward sons, and many of the latter came with their minds set on getting just as much fun as possible out of their banishment."Obviously, academic pursuits were a secondary motivation for parents banishing their sons to four years in the squalor of College Station, Texas.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense Act of 1916 which mandated the creation of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Since participation in the A&M Corps of Cadets was already mandatory, the directors of the college also instituted compulsory ROTC participation.
After WWII, mandatory participation in ROTC and in the school's Corps of Cadets was waived for veterans returning from the war. Veterans' enrollment soared, a smaller and smaller percentage of the total student body participated in ROTC or the school's Corps of Cadets. By 1947, school enrollment had topped 8,000, while participation in the school's Corps of Cadets and ROTC numbered just 2,100.
As the postwar era wore on, compulsory ROTC membership was deemed less and less important to the university, especially when the overwhelming majority of students weren't participating. Finally, in 1956, the school dropped the requirement that all students also be enrolled in ROTC training. This decision was revered in 1958, only to be reversed again in 1963.
Many A&M alumni wrongly cite the school's compulsory participation in ROTC training as one of the salient factors in the school's abysmal athletics program in the decades following WWII. The University of Arkansas was the last Land Grant school to abandon compulsory ROTC training (in 1969), and mandatory ROTC training in no way prevented U of A from fielding competitive teams during their compulsory ROTC period.
Holy crap. They're insane, but lack the self-awareness to see it.
- Twenty-First Biennial Report of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, https://archive.org/details/annualreportofag1916agri
- Twenty-First Biennial Report of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, Page 22, https://archive.org/stream/annualreportofag1916agri#page/22/mode/2up
- Adams, John A. (2001). Keepers of the Spirit. Texas A&M University Press. p. 160.