Army Service School.As early as 1870 Gen. John Pope, then commanding the Department of the Missouri, urged the establishment of a school for teaching military tactics, etc., and recommended that it be located at Fort Leavenworth. He repeated his suggestions several times before Gen. W. T. Sherman, commanding the army of the United States, laid the foundation of the infantry and cavalry school in his General Orders No. 42, dated May 7, 1881. This order directed that steps be taken for the establishment of a school of application for the infantry and cavalry, similar to that for the artillery at Fortress Monroe, Va. The school was to be made up of three field officers of cavalry and infantry; not less than four companies of infantry and four troops of cavalry; one battery of light artillery, and the officers detailed for instruction from each regiment of cavalry or infantry, not exceeding the rank of lieutenant, who had not previously received professional instruction.
Col. Elwell S. Otis, of the Twentieth United States infantry, was assigned to the command of the post and charged with the work of organizing the school, under a code of regulations similar to that in use at Fortress Monroe. General Orders No. 8, series of 1882, announced the organization of the school, issued certain regulations for its government, prescribed a course of instruction covering organization of troops, tactics, discipline and theoretical instruction.
The Spanish-American war caused a suspension of the school for four years, during which time there was a large increase in the army. Elihu Root, secretary of war, in his report for 1901, said: "In the reorganization of the enlarged army about 1,000 new officers have been added from the volunteer force, so that more than one-third of all the officers in the army have been without any opportunity whatever for systematic study of the science of war." He spoke highly of the work accomplished by the school before the war, and recommended its renewal.
As a result of his recommendations, General Orders No. 155, of the war department for 1901, directed that "The infantry and cavalry school at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., shall be enlarged and developed into a general service and staff college, and shall be a school of instruction for all arms of the service, to which shall be sent officers who have been recommended for proficiency attained in the officers' schools conducted in the various posts."
The reorganized school opened on Sept. 1, 1902, with Gen. J. Franklin Bell as commandant, and Col. A. L. Wagner, who had been connected with the old school, as assistant. By General Orders No. 115, series of 1904, three separate schools were established: 1st, The infantry and cavalry school; 2nd, The signal school; 3d, The staff college. Other changes followed, and by General Orders No. 211, of 1907, the infantry and cavalry school was designated "The Army School of the Line," and the method of selecting student officers was changed so that none could be admitted of a lower grade than captain, with not less than five years' service.
Circular No. 13, issued by the war department in 1908, set forth the function of the service schools to be the promotion of the best interests of the service, and while it might be desirable to afford equal opportunity to all officers, it was impossible to do so and adhere to the purpose for which such schools were established, viz.: to promote the best interests of the service by affording the most promising officers the opportunity for instruction in the highest duties of the soldiers' profession.
The course of study in the infantry and cavalry school embraces military art, engineering, law and languages; that of the signal school includes field signaling, signal engineering, topography and languages; that of the staff college includes military art, engineering, law, languages and the care of troops.
The commandants of the school at Fort Leavenworth since its organization have been Cols. Elwell S. Otis, Thomas H. Ruger, A. D. McCook, E. F. Townsend, H. S. Hawkins, Charles W. Miner, J. Franklin Bell, Charles B. Hall, and Brig.-Gen. Frederick Funston, the last named having assumed the duties of the position on Aug. 14, 1908. Although the service school at Fort Leavenworth is a national institution, maintained by the general government, it is located on Kansas soil, and is an institution in which the progressive citizens of the state feel a deep interest, and of which they are justly proud.Pages 102-103 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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