James Madison Papers

William Matthews to James Madison, 22 September 1826

Charlotttesville Va Sept. 22nd 1826


The following remarks relative to the Military School proposed at the University are respectfully submitted for your consideration.

With respect to the System of Tacticks used in conveying instruction to the students, I am of opinion that the system now generally used in the U. States Army had better be adopted in order to ensure uniformity throughout the union. Of its correctness and order no doubts can be entertained. The system formerly used has lately been revised at West-point by a board of distinguish’d officers. The various systems used in Europe were refered to by the Board of War and the most usefull improvements noticed.

Castrumitation or the art of encamping troops, being a branch of the Science of War in which the students have to be instructed, I am of opinion that this branch together with that of Infantry Tacticks had better be theoretically illustrated by the Instrr. For this, the whole number of students will be divided into four Alphabetical divisions–each division should be compell’d to attend one hour in the week on such day and hour as will hereafter be prescribed. This attention to the theory together with the exercises on Saturday will in my opinion be sufficient to enable them to acquire a knowledge of the subjects in a year.

As a preventative to habits of idleness, dissipation and improper conduct the roll of the students had better be call’d at sunrise every morning, and immediately after, one of the divisions shall attend for hour for the purpose of receiving instruction on the above mentioned branches of Military Science.

Any student who answers to anothers name at roll call ought to be subject to a punishment of no small grade

As the exercises will be suspended for a few months in the year, the time can be taken up in illustrating the theory. If these arrangements are made, they will interfere not, at all with the lectures, and but little with the studies, and I am induced to believe, this will be productive of many advantages.

If the preceding remarks, on the system and goverment of the Military School meet with your approbation, I trust they will be found beneficial to the other schools of the University

Respectfully Gentl. Your Obt. Servt.

Wm Matthews

RC (ViU). Addressed to the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia.

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