West Point’s Old Cadet Chapel Then and Now

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.

DAR Margaret Corbin Day Ceremony

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The DAR monument for Margaret Corbin at the Old Cadet Chapel on West Point.  © Jill Moore, 2010

Yesterday, I attended my first “official” Daughters of the American Revolution event at West Point’s Military Academy to honor the Revolutionary War heroine Margaret Cochran Corbin.  While the weather was positively wretched, misting all day long with nary a beam of sunlight at all to grace us, the ceremony held at the beautiful Old Cadet Chapel at West Point’s cemetery was especially moving and the brief presentation of her life by retired Brigadier-General Maritza Ryan detailing the hard life Margaret a.k.a “Molly” endured beginning at a young age and extending to her post-war years was particularly interesting. There was a gorgeous blue and yellow rose wreath to be laid at her monument and the honor guard provided a gun salute before taps was played.  So moving….