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A History of the United States Military Academy

West Point’s role in our nation’s history dates back to the Revolutionary War, when both sides realized the strategic importance of the commanding plateau on the west bank of the Hudson River. General George Washington considered West Point to be the most important strategic position in America. In 1778, Washington personally selected Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Revolutionary War hero, to design the fortifications for West Point which is the oldest continuously occupied military post in America.

The United States Military Academy traces its roots to 1801, when shortly after his inauguration President Thomas Jefferson directed that plans be set in motion to establish a military academy at West Point. Subsequently, in 1802, he signed legislation establishing the United States Military Academy.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Stephen B. Grove, PhD, will tell the details of USMA in his lecture "A History of the United States Military Academy."  The presentation, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the OCTC Great Room 101 in Kaplan Hall at SUNY Orange.

Having been West Point’s official historian for thirty years prior to his retirement, Grove is an expert on the Academy, its principles, and the ground on which it stands. The mission of USMA is to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned officer committed to its motto: Duty • Honor • Country.

Grove will describe how the cadets were trained in artillery and cavalry for many years, at least before the Civil War on the Plain, a flat piece of territory on this relatively small military post. If it rained, there was mud, and dealing with it was an education in itself. Doubleday Field is on the Plain and the first Army football games were played there also. In 1924 Michie Stadium was built and football games were moved off the Plain. In 1940 basic training ceased on the Plain, because the military academy was able to acquire extensive territory to the south and west where Camp Buckner is today. Grove will also examine the significance of making USMA co-ed.

Come and learn about the history, past and present, of this important living historical site, explained by a man who was imbedded in the day-to-day life at the Academy, yet viewed his perspective as a civilian.

Free, secure parking is available in the Kaplan Hall parking garage via the 73 First Street entrance.

For more information, contact Cultural Affairs at or call (845) 341-4891/9386, or visit website

Event date, time and location.

Dorothy Szefc
Cultural Affairs