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1889-1890 AC Catalog Announcement1889-90 Catalog  
showing announcement  
of military discipline 
When school opened in the fall of 1889, it opened on a new era for Austin College. The College having survived, barely, the rocky decade of the 1880s, the Trustees decided to adopt a military program to "promote Discipline and Physical Culture." The Trustees must have imagined the allure that military uniforms and polished brass might hold for adventurous young men, the better to increase enrollment with. And military discipline seemed to offer an appealing means for disciplining both the student body and spirit.

Old Main Building on AC campus

 


Old Main

College Hill was defined by the Faculty as embracing a block in each direction from the college, and, for practical purposes, that described cadet limits as well. The cadets were required to live within these venturing beyond only with the expressed permission of the Faculty. This was not as unreasonable as it sounded, since there was nothing much beyond the college campus until one reached Sherman about a mile and a half away.
AC Cadet 1889-1890Cadet 1889-90 "A neat and attractive uniform is prescribed," declared the college bulletin. Cadets were allowed to wear their own clothes until their second term. After that they were required to wear only the college uniform. The uniform was government standard, cadet gray, "made by a responsible clothing house," and was deemed "very serviceable and economical." The prescribed wardrobe included: "Dress coat cut after the West Point pattern, worn with cadet collar; fatigue coat, close fitting sack, with six buttons, pockets inside only; trousers with watch pocket only, inch and a quarter wide black strip on outer seam, and cap of dark blue cloth." Only uniforms made by the recognized clothing house and obtained by the Commandant were acceptable. The fatigue suit-coat vest and trousers-cost $15 or $16 according to size. The dress coat at $10, and cap "of best quality" at $1.50, were considered a great bargain. Buttons were cast from a special die, designed exclusively for Austin College.
Four AC Cadets  1894Four Cadets in 1894 The uniform changed slightly from time to time. The novelty, though, seemed to wear thin with the cadets after awhile. By spring of 1893, evidence of disenchantment began to appear. Seniors were not required to wear uniforms on Commencement Sunday. In fall 1894, action by the board of trustees to excuse seniors from wearing college uniforms raised a furor among the faculty.

Appearing out of uniform was a punishable offense. As the years passed, the cadets grew more daring in flaunting the rule and more creative in their excuses for appearing out of uniform. Five cadets at once were called before the faculty for appearing out of uniform and offered five different excuses for appearing in citizen’s clothes, all highly suspect.

AC Cadet Cap 1896Robert's Cap In an editorial in The Reveille in 1896, 
Stanley Roberts complained:
The new uniforms have arrived and the new boys are supremely happy. The pattern is the same with the exception of the cap, and that is where the trouble lies. It is rather hard on a fellow to be addressed as a mule car driver or Pullman car porter, and some of our boys even complain that they can’t stay around the depots at all without being expected to take care of the valise or trunk of some traveler.
AC CadetsCadets with Rifles The 1889-90 catalog boasted that cadets were supplied with the "latest pattern of the sharp military rifles and McKeever accoutrements." The citizens of Sherman contributed "a magnificent regimental flag."
BarracksBarracks In October 1890, the trustees invested between $800 and $1000 of the College’s endowment money in two dormitories. Four of these wooden barracks were eventually erected, although one or two may have served other purposes such as hospital barracks.

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