Item #010120 1885 – Illustrated flyer offering board-free enrollment at the Maryland Military and Naval Academy that was beset by scandal

1885 – Illustrated flyer offering board-free enrollment at the Maryland Military and Naval Academy that was beset by scandal

Oxford, Maryland: 1885. Unbound. This four-page, partially printed handbill, measuring 5½” x 8¼”, offering board-free enrollment as a “Special Cadet” at the Maryland Military and Naval Academy is datelined “Oxford, Md. Dec 26 1885. The name field is blank. A large patriotic illustration titled “The Maryland Military & Naval Academy / Oxford. Md.” Decorates the cover. Storage folds.

The application reads in part: “You are hereby informed that you have been appointed through Supreme Judge, Towville, NY, as a Special Cadet. . .. You will immediately signify by letter . . . your acceptance or nonacceptance . . . and in the event of your appointment . . . report for duty Jan 4. . .. / Expenses of a Special Cadet, from January 4 to June 12, 1885 / Board Free, tuition $80, room rent $15, washing $15, fuel and lights $15. Total $125 . . . The Expense of a Pay Cadet are $350 per School year.”

An internal page of requirements reads in part: “The applicant must be at least thirteen years of age. . .. The Special Cadet will also be required to provide himself with the uniform of the Academy. . .” and a long list of clothing and equipment that were required to be purchased from the academy.

. Very good. Item #010120

The academy, a preparatory school for West Point and Annapolis, was established by ex-Confederate Colonel Otto Tighman. It was based upon a similar institution at Oxford that had been destroyed by fire in 1885. It had an excellent facility, first-class faculty, and two vessels (a schooner and clipper ship). Its first class attracted over 250 students from prominent families from thirty states.

However, the school was quickly beset by financial problems and after its cooks and servants quit because they had not been paid, the school’s 180 cadets were not fed. Subsequently, four cadets got drunk on hard cider and attacked the assistant superintendent at home and cut off his beard with shears. Afterward fifty cadets went to a local restaurant for a celebratory meal.

The next January, the superintendent, B. J. Burges, convinced a retired Army major to purchase the academy. After the major did, he discovered that Burgess had absconded with at least $50,000 of academy funds causing the school to fold in March of 1887. A subsequent state investigation revealed the students had been supplied with insufficient numbers of uniforms, only one or two rooms had been heated, the water supply was unpotable, and meals were sparse and of poor quality.

(For more information, see “Museum Unveils ‘Scoundrels and Scandals’ Exhibit” at the Oxford Museum website, “Rebellious Maryland Boys” from the 29 September 1886 edition of The Boston Globe, and a host of other contemporary newspaper articles, all available online.)

Scarce. At the time of listing, nothing similar is for sale in the trade, and the Rare Book Hub shows no similar items have appeared at auction. OCLC identifies no institutional holdings of original source materials related to this academy.


Price: $200.00

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