A view of the Old Cadet Chapel in 1877 at Custer’s funeral (left) and a recent picture I took of what the chapel now looks like.

While it’s not necessarily genealogically related per say (but kinda because I will send this to my cousin Joel as his mom is a Custer), I wanted to show you probably one of the best parts of my day job as a Memorial Support Coordinator at USMA West Point.   Being at USMA, you’re surrounded by all the old buildings, monuments, Revolutionary War redoubts and even Fort Putnam.  History is all around West Point.  It’s hard not to walk the grounds and think about who else has walked here – Edgar Allan Poe, Ed White from the Apollo missions, General Norman Schwarzkopf, and many, many more.

Being a history major, I’m always scouring for tid bits about West Point and I found the coolest engraving of General Custer’s funeral  that was held in 1877 in the Old Cadet Chapel.  The chapel has a very cool history in itself; it was built in 1836 and used to be on the Plain over by the cadet barracks but when they needed to build a new, bigger chapel, they were going to dismantle this one.  However, the cadets practically revolted and demanded that because of it’s history, it needed to be kept.  So they rebuilt it in the cemetery, where it now stands, brick by brick, and it was reopened in 1910 when the new Cadet Chapel was opened.  We use the Old Cadet Chapel now for memorials and ceremonies like the DAR’s Molly Corbin Day.

This engraving shows the Old Cadet Chapel in 1877 for General Custer’s funeral and my picture on the right was taken about a month ago in practically the same spot up in the gallery where the pipe organ is.  As you can see, not much has changed at all… even down to the gas fixtures on the columns and the Revolutionary War plaques on the walls with the names of the generals who served in our fight for Independence, the painting in the arch, the golden eagle and even the pews are the same.  The carpet has changed but the grate shown on the floor is still under there.

When I tell people that coming to West Point is like stepping back in time, I really mean it, and this is just one of the many examples.  Despite the 144 years passing by, it looks nearly identical.  It really IS worth a visit if you get the chance.

 

Leave a Reply