Journal of Riley M. Adams
A Cadet at Capt. Partridge's Military Academy, Norwich, Vt.
Sunday, November 21, 1824. Officer of the day, Cadet Alexander. I attended church and heard our Chaplain preach his farewell sermon in this place. At 7 o'clock the Capt. assembled us in the lecture room to read the reports. I was marked No. 1 every day for the last week with the exception of one day, was marked No. 2. After the reports were all read the Capt. gave one of the Cadets a short lecture for having heard him use profane language. He observed to him that if he heard any more of his swearing he should dismiss him. After he had done his lecture he gave me the honor of making me officer of the day for the morrow.
Monday 22d. I arose in the morning at 4 o'clock to be ready to have the reveille beat at 6. I called up the drummer (which was my duty) to beat. After he had sufficiently enough we attend the roll call. After this I inspect the rooms to see if there were any in bed, &c.
Inspection report of the quarters of the A. L. S. & Military Academy for Monday, Nov. 22, 1824. Morning Inspection: Beds not made: Conkey, Shipp. In bed, Blodgett. Rooms not swept, Burk, Kelly, Clark. 10 o'clock inspection: In other rooms: Baker, Magrader. 12 o'clock inspection: In other rooms: W. Lee, Wallach, Ross, Murdoch. 2 o'clock inspection: In other rooms: L. Gourdin, Brooks, E. Laverty. 4 o'clock inspection: In other rooms, Baker, L. Gourdin, Macay, Armsted, Alston. Rooms in best order: Macay, Mills, Newel, Burton, Lee.
To Capt. A. Partridge, Supt. Certified by Adams, Officer the day. I was insulted by one of the Cadets, an impertinent fellow, whom I reported to the Capt. who punished him for his insults. His conduct was an exception, there not being any irregularities in particular through the day.
Tuesday 23d. Officer of the day, Allen. I commenced studying mineralogy and topography. I also made a bargain with the music master to attend music tomorrow.
Wednesday 24th. Officer of the day, Tailor (from New Jersey). This morning Cadet Stafford and Tenant came back to our quarters to get taken back as members. Snow fell today to the depth of a foot which made very good sleighing.
Thursday 25th. Officer of the day, Ransom. Today the Capt. took back Tenant as a Cadet, but has not taken back Stafford. In the eve at roll call Capt. made some observations with respect to the scholarship of his Cadets. He said some would come to his seminary a whole year and would not study unless they were drove to it; but others would and without the least compelling, would spend their time to the best advantage. He mentioned that one of the Cadets whom he had given a discharge this eve was one that had always got his lessons well and stood No. 1 each day. Thus he said that this Cadet, calling him by name, would not be afraid to meet his parents from his good progress made in his studies. Neither would they be displeased to see him. On the contrary those Cadets that had been idle would be received in a very different manner, their parents would feel very ungrateful toward them, and receive them with a great deal of displeasure. I reflected on these words of the Capt. much, and I believe it did me much good. I thought how unbecoming it would be to be numbered with the class of idle ones.
Friday 26th. Today the snow left us on account of the rain which fell last night.
Saturday 27th. I felt some cast down this morn and regretted I did not take up the offer made by my father to go home. In the afternoon at 1 o'clock I had the pleasure to see my brother in law who came into my room to see me and to carry me home if I wished to go. I was very glad to see him, but by this time I had got off the notion of going home. After I had spent a few hours with him, he started for home. After I had got to my room and rested myself at my table. I began to feel rather solitary that I did not go home with him, and regretted I did not converse with him more. It was a very unpleasant and rainy day which was one reason of my being so dejected in mind. I was in the eve insulted by a Cadet which added to my solitude.
Sunday 28th. I attended church and heard a new preacher. In the eve I saw several Cadets leave the quarters for good. They were Sterling, Fenner, Davis, Clark, Baker, Brunson and some others.
Monday 29th. Officer of the day, Cadet Varnum. In the eve the Capt. dismissed 2 Cadets for improper conduct toward their instructor.
Tuesday 30th. Officer of the day, Murdoch (a Spaniard).
Wednesday, Dec. 1st, 1824. Last night a cracker was fired by some person. This however did not do any damage. It was fired out doors under the steps and merely tore off one step. There was one or two suspected as being in this scrape, but little was said of the affair. The Capt. inspected the rooms in the afternoon to see if he could find any powder, but did not.
Thursday, Dec. 2d. Today was Thanksgiving day, therefore all the Cadets were excused from recitations. The Cadets attended church in the forenoon, and heard a sermon. We took dinner at 3 o'clock. I shall now begin to relate a serious affair. In the eve some of the Cadets came into the quarters from supper very much intoxicated. These were principally Southerners. As soon as my roommate had returned from supper he told me that one of the Southerners asked him where I roomed. Immediately after this, one of the Northerners came into our room and told me that the Southerners were going to fight me. I asked him what for? He replied he heard one of the Southerners say that I had accused all the Southerners of being cowards. At this news I was struck, and did not know the propriety of their assertion. At length I thought of the thing they had reference to. I recollected that in a few weeks after I came to the Academy I conversed with a Southerner in jest, who did the same with me. I said the Southerners were cowards, and from that he told his roommate who told it all over the quarters. In a short time after I was told the Southerners were going to fight me. One who had a little before been quarrelling with a Northerner ran from his quarters down into the second passage and called "Southerners"! As soon as they heard the signal they collected in the fourth passage (where I roomed) to fight me. One came into my room and told me he wished to speak with me. I went into the passage among the Southerners who were threatening in a high degree. The Northerners heard their threats and came.
This Southerner (who came to me) accused me of calling them cowards. I replied that I did by the way of jesting. I told him I would bring forward the Southerner I told it to did he not believe it.
Thus consulting the Capt. came and interfered by sending them to their rooms. After this some one reported to the Capt. what I said, and the Capt. sent for me. I went to his room and he asked me what I had been saying to cause such a quarrel. I replied I had talked in jest with a Southerner soon after I came to Norwich. I told him I recollected saying the Southerners were cowards. "Well," said he, "this you say was in jest?" "Yes, sir," said I. He then told a Cadet who roomed with him to call that Southerner. The Southerner was called to the Capt.'s room and the Capt. questioned him with respect to our conversation, who stated the fact as I had explained, that he took what I said in jest. He said he did not think of any harm when he told it to his roommate who had reported it to every Southerner. Upon this the Capt. called his roommate and scolded at him much and we were dismissed. We, the Northerners, now prepared for a bloody fight. It was expected the Southerners would break into our room in the night to fight. They assembled once again before bed time, but without success. After this they assembled in particular rooms to consult each. This was not done however without the knowledge of the Northerners who were on the alert, bearing in mind what the Capt. had previously said before the whole of the Cadets "that if any person or persons broke into anothers room, those belonging to the room were at liberty to stick them with any weapon, or at least to mark them so they would be known the next day." This was a requirement, if they did not mark them he would dismiss the oldest in the room. Therefore we armed ourselves with bayonets and clubs, being determined to run the first one through that entered the room. Not only to do what was required of us, but to defend our rights. We lay down 7 or 8 of us in our room, in all expectation to have a bloody fight before morning. Bach laid with a bayonet beside him. I being very sleepy dropped to sleep and was not awaked until morning -
Friday 3rd. We arose and attended roll call without much fear. It was very uncommon to see the Southerners, each having a vindictive and surly countenance. After roll call we went to breakfast. Whilst I was going in the street a Southerner came to me, and began to insult me, but I said nothing. A Northerner who was at my side told him he would make a corps of him if he said any more. As soon as the Northerner was away from us, he struck me. Now as I did not feel disposed to fight among so many Southerners, I told him I would delay until night. The day time passed away without any conquest. In the eve at 7 o'clock whilst returning from supper I overtook the Southerner who had before given me a blow with his fist. As soon as I got even with him, I told him he had insulted me, &c. I was ready to give him a flogging and struck him which knocked him backwards. As soon as he recovered he made a longe at me but I parry'd off so much that it did not seem to hurt me in the least. I struck him 5 or 6 times without receiving a blow, and he began to yield, and said he would let me alone in the future, therefore I let him be. By this time two Southerners come up to us who expressed much regret at his getting flogged. I told him if he wished for any more I would let him have it, but he declined. Thus the fight ended. We the Northerners again prepared for a fight in the night, remembering the words of the Capt. "That if any party wished to be in peace to be ready for war."
Saturday 4th. It was reported to me this morn, that 2 Southerners were going to fight me today. I was assured by my companions that there should be no unfair means taken. I went to breakfast expecting to be attacked but no one assaulted me. The weather began to change and be very cold and snowy. I was asked this forenoon by Hill, a Southerner, if I did not tell another one that he got knocked over by one who had fought him. My answer was "No," as I did not recollect. After this I saw him, and told him I recollected of saying I heard he got knocked over. At noon while I was on Police, Palmer the Southerner whom I told this at first came to me and said I told Hill, I never said that he was knocked over. I told him I did at first, but after I recollected of saying that I heard it. He insulted me and said he would fight me after I was relieved from police duty, but for what I did not know. He went to his room and soon after assembled some of his companions to consult after the manner of these characters.
Shortly after I was relieved from police he came to me and asked if I chose to fight him or let him pound me, (as he expressed it.) To this I gave no answer, but determined to defend myself as far as I might be able, although he was heavier as well as older than I. At length having talked much with my companions, they being very solicitous, I agreed to fight him, for I believe the Northerners added to my courage. I picked the spot where we should come upon action which he consented to, and having made our rules began the fight, several of each party looking on. After returning his blows several times I clenched him round the back to take him down, but he was to stout for me and took me down which was the cause of my getting the disadvantage. I struggled some time and was obliged to give up, but was not blamed by the Northerners as I did the best I could, but was rather commended. Now I hoped I should have no more occasion to fight during the winter. I retired to my room feeling some consolation in mind to think I had got through with another fight. I took supper this eve. with a better appetite than usual and retired to bed to enjoy sweet sleep.
Sunday 5th. Officer of the day, Cadet Cushman. I attended church as usual.
Monday 6th. Nothing remarkable happened today except one of the Cadets had his arm broke by falling on the ice when he was skating on a little pond near the Academy.
Tuesday 7th. I devoted myself in the morning to writing a letter, or rather a journal of the occurrences which have happened to me, to my parents.
Wednesday 8th. Officer of the day, Cadet Porcher.
Thursday 9th. In the morn. I felt rather low. At 9 o'clock I felt more spirited.
Friday 10th. Officer of the day, G. Hancock. My thoughts were carried home very often where I wished to be. About 10 o'clock I was greatly alarmed, a Northerner, named Wadsworth from Burlington, came to our room, saying a Southerner had been striking him, and looking at his hand I saw" one of his fingers nearly cut off, which he said was done by a slate which he held when he was struck. He requested assistance and one of my roommates and another went to the Southerner and inquired into the affair, and come back and told Wadsworth as they did not wish to have another quarrel they would keep quiet, but told him he had best report it to the Capt. They 1 suppose thought he was a little to blame by speaking to a Southerner as he did. He related the circumstances, that he was in the recitation room and the South, pricked him with a pin which vexed him and he spoke "Don't act like a d - md fool," which words the South, took up. As the South, can not bear any thing spoken against them, either in jest or not. Another riot of a Cadet was found out today which was so disgraceful I shall not relate the particulars. He was obliged to leave the Academy and go home to Natches, or suffer 7 years imprisonment or immediate death according to the laws of the State. In the eve I felt low in mind, when I was told a Southerner was going to fight me. I spent the eve rather melancholy but was not assaulted.
Saturday 11th. Officer of the day, Cadet Williams. I spent the morn in playing on the flute at my instructors house, Bagley, who gave me the last lesson to make up y 2 quarter which I had agreed with him for. In the afternoon I was examined in my studies for the last week. No war waged today. Yet it was hinted to us by the same South, that we should have a battle at Christmas day.
(End of the manuscript in the editor's possession.)