August 17-19, 2007

United States Military Academy at West Point

Dwight Wood at Painter's Tavern
At Painter's Tavern, Dwight Wood thanked our members and named those who have dedicated great amounts of their time and efforts to the goals of the Society this year. Pat Wood is at the piano, but it appears she does not plan on playing it.

Rachel Pickett Pace and husband John
General Pickett's Great Great Granddaughter, Rachel Pickett Pace, and her husband, John, enjoy the view overlooking the Hudson River

West Point Old Cadet Chapel
This is the Chapel where 19th century cadets including George E. Pickett, A. P. Hill, Thomas J. Jackson, Robert E. Lee and many others worshiped. There are plaques on the walls bearing the names and dates of birth and death of some early military icons. One of them representing Benedict Arnold does not reflect a date of death because the U. S. Army does not want him to rest in peace.


On August 17th, we traveled to the United States Military Academy for a three-day visit to Gen. George E. Pickett’s alma mater overlooking the Hudson River. Although the original Benny Havens Tavern, mess hall, classrooms and dormitories used by Pickett are long gone, there remain vestiges that would be familiar to the class of 1846.

The Old Cadet Chapel, erected in 1836, is one of the oldest buildings on the grounds. It is one of five chapels at the Academy and it is still open for worship each Sunday as a Lutheran Church. The cemetery next to the Old Cadet Chapel was first used in 1782 for the burial of a Revolutionary War soldier. Since that time, many more soldiers, clergymen, professors, astronauts, sports figures, spouses and children have been laid to rest there.

Directly across the Hudson River is a site that the class of 1846 knew, Constitution Island, now owned by the military academy. During the 1830’s Henry Warner purchased the island. His two daughters, Anna and Susan, grew up on the island. Anna wrote the words to “Jesus Loves Me” and both girls conducted Sunday school classes for the West Point cadets for 40 years.

Quarters 100 is the Superintendent’s home and was standing when George Pickett was a cadet. One of the previous occupants was General Robert E. Lee who was appointed in 1852.

The Great Chain weighs 150 tons and is 500 yards in length. During the Revolutionary War, the Great Chain was placed across the Hudson River on logs to block navigation at West Point. Thirteen of the links, one representing each of the original states, remain on view at Trophy Point.

We walked the same paths as Pickett and his classmates and enjoyed the great beauty of the Hudson River during a dazzling August weekend.

This is the sanctuary of the larger, newer Cadet Chapel. A candle burns perpetually (not in image) to the left. It represents the alumni who can't attend church services because they are in combat areas fighting or being held as prisoners of war. Each Sunday at 2:00 P.M., some of the cadets climb up the chapel steps and play the chimes. We were treated to a series of lovely old songs and hymns. Ulysses Grant's family donated the sculpture of St. Michael (in background) to West Point. St. Michael is regarded as the patron saint of police officers and soldiers, particularly paratroopers.

The Great Chain
The Great Chain is a source of American pride and patriotism. Imagine 1,500 feet of the enormous chain being handled by the Continental Army in the 1780's.

We managed to have about 90% of our group stand still long enough for our traditional group shot. We're standing at Trophy Point and in the background is the monument commemorating Union graduates of West Point who died during the War Between the States.

Benny Havens Tavern
The current Benny Havens Tavern was constructed with a few pieces of the original leaving it mostly 20th century, but it's still a pleasure to sip a cold beer in good company. Diane Pickett is standing in front of (L to R) Hollis Pickett, Mike Pickett, Clay Pickett, Ed Pickett and Dan Paterson. Each of these Pickett men is related to Gen. George E. Pickett and Dan, as previously stated, is the great grandson of Gen. James Longstreet.

Brotherhood Winery
Our group filled two of Brotherhood Winery's tasting stations. Brotherhood is America's oldest winery and these smiling faces seem to say that the oldest winery makes the best wine. ( L to R) Anne Baker, Dwight Wood, Betty Hart, Brenda Lyons, Lee Hart, our excellent tour guide Kevin, Tom Conzo, John Pace, Rachel Pickett Pace


Group eating at Hotel Thayer's dining room
Most of the group was able to fit around a banquet table in the Hotel Thayer's dining room prior to our tour of the military academy.

Beginning of West Point Tour
Just outside the gates of the United States Military Academy, as part of our group gathers for the tour, part of the town of Highland Falls can be seen in the background.

Gen. Winfield Scott's Marker
Much of this country's history can be read on the grave markers in West Point's cemetery. Some visitors respectfully place rocks on top of the markers because they are more permanent than flowers. A few rocks can be seen on Gen. Winfield Scott's marker.

This is an historic view of the same Trophy Point site.

The Longstreet-Pickett tradition continues today with the friendship of Dan Paterson, Gen. Longstreet's great grandson, and Clay Pickett, III, Gen. Pickett's great great great nephew. They're at the Trophy Point Wall which overlooks the Hudson River and Constitution Island to the right.

Storage caverns at Brotherhood Winery
This is one of the storage caverns at Brotherhood Winery. Toward the back of the cavern, the locked door to the champagne vault can be seen. The cool temperature maintained underground was welcome on a summer day.


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