Monday, December 8, 2008

Bits and Pieces: A Long March, The General’s House, and Longfellow’s Step

When Croxton’s Raiders invaded Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in April, 1865, and burned the University of Alabama, the Alabama Corps of Cadets (ACC) retreated to the bridge at Hurricane Creek and waited for the enemy to attack. When the Federals failed to materialize, COL James T. Murfee, the Commandant, decided to march his cadets down to the town of Marion, AL, a distance of some sixty miles.

An article in the current issue of Alabama Heritage magazine (Fall 2008) picks up the story from here. Entitled “Honorary Degrees for the Alabama Corps of Cadets” by Matthew C. Edmonds, a passage on page 17 reads:

“Over the following three days, the Corps of Cadets marched more than sixty miles to the town of Marion. One cadet recalled later that, on the long march, “many fell by the wayside, and had to be taken into wagons, as their feet gave out….Besides this, we were practically starved out, as we had little to eat on the way.” Unfortunately, provisions in Marion offered only a limited improvement, and officers soon granted a furlough for all cadets, with orders to report back to Marion after thirty days. Cadets went their separate ways, fully expecting life to return to relative normalcy after a month, but for more than a few cadets, that fateful day in Marion was the last time they ever saw each other. Before the corps could reconvene, news of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox arrived in Alabama.”

It’s interesting that COL Murfee of the Alabama Corps of Cadets would later serve as the president of Howard College here in Marion, and that he would found and serve as the first president of Marion Military Institute after Howard moved to Birmingham. James Thomas Murfee is also buried here.

The plaque for COL Murfee in the Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame in the Samford University Library in Birmingham. (Credit: Bill Mathews, MMI H’60, J’62)

On another note entirely, Major Edward M. “Ned” Almond, USA, served as the Professor of Military Science here at MMI in the early 1920s. He also married a Judson College student, Margaret Crook, of Anniston, AL. When Almond was the PMS, he lived in a MMI faculty bungalow on Washington Street. The house still stands, only slightly altered, and is the house immediately to the left (north)of the West Alabama Bank (thanks to Kay Beckett for identifying it!).

Where am I going with this? Well, Major Almond went on to become Lieutenant General Almond, a decorated combat veteran of both World Wars and Korea. He is probably best known as the controversial commander of the X Corps in Korea (my father served in the X Corps). The Almonds ultimately retired to Anniston, AL. They are buried together in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

MAJ Almond as the PMS at MMI in the early 1920s.

A snapshot of Almond at MMI proclaiming him “the best looking man at M.I.”

An early 1920s image of the faculty bungalow on Washington Street where Almond lived.

Another image of the bungalow from the early 1920s. MAJ Almond’s car?

Lieutenant General Almond returned to MMI to dedicate the Alumni Memorial Gymnasium in 1952.

Finally, beside the front steps of Lovelace Hall (“Old South Barracks”) are the remains of one of the original marble steps to the building which was constructed in the 1850s (it resembles a loveseat). There was once a plaque attached to it quoting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, but the plaque has long since disappeared. It read: “Lives of great men all remind us/ We can make our lives sublime/ And, departing, leave behind us/ Footprints on the sands of time.”

Cadet Tyler Blake of College Station, Texas, sits on Longfellow’s Step (my designation) outside Lovelace Hall.

Monday, December 1, 2008

RADM William W. Outerbridge, USN, MMI HS 1923

Noted for firing the first shots in defense of the United States during World War II – just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – then Captain William W. Outerbridge served as the skipper of the destroyer USS Ward.

William Woodward Outerbridge was born in Hong Kong, China, on 14 April 1906. He matriculated at MMI from Middleport, Ohio, and graduated from the high school program in 1923. A member of “E” Company, he was a cadet private and held membership in the Yankee Club and, ironically, in the Stonewall Jackson Literary Society. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, in the Class of 1927.

MMI Cadet Outerbridge as a Junior in the High School, 1921-22.

The MMI High School Class of 1923. William Outerbridge is probably in this group, however unidentified. (He appears to be the fourth cadet from the left.)

MAJ Edward M. Almond, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, served as the Professor of Military Science when Outerbridge was a cadet. Almond later rose to the rank of Lieutenant General in the Army and commanded the X Corps in Korea.

Building on the lessons of trench warfare in World War I, these MMI cadet trenches were built on the edge of campus when Outerbridge was a cadet.

At the beginning of World War II, Captain Outerbridge skippered the USS Ward, a recommissioned ship built during the World War I period. Reportedly in his first command and on his first patrol off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, Outerbridge and the USS Ward detected a Japanese two-man midget submarine near the entrance to Pearl Harbor. I will let the images take over from here: (Credit: Official U. S. Navy photographs, now in the National Archives, downloaded from the Internet)

A painting by Tom Freeman of the USS Ward, commanded by Captain Outerbridge, firing on the Japanese two-man midget submarine near the entrance to Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The USS Ward detected the midget sub at 6:45 AM and sank it at 6:54 AM, firing the first shots in defense of the U.S. in World War II. Captain Outerbridge was reportedly awarded the Navy Cross for Heroism. (The midget sub was discovered in 2002 in 1200 feet of water off Pearl Harbor.)

The Mount No. 3 gun from the USS Ward - which fired the first shots for the United States – is now a monument on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds in St. Paul.

This image was taken on December 7, 1944, exactly three years from the day the USS Ward sank the Japanese midget sub. The USS Ward, destroyed by Japanese kamikaze attacks in Ormoc Bay, Leyte, is on fire and members of her crew are being rescued by the USS O’Brien, commanded by Captain Outerbridge. Outerbridge is then ordered to sink the badly damaged USS Ward! Too strange.

Officers of the USS O’Brien, c. 1944: CDR William W. Outerbridge, the skipper, is third from left, front row.

Captain Outerbridge as Commanding Officer of the USS Los Angeles, c. 1953.

During World War II, Captain Outerbridge served in both the Pacific and the Atlantic, taking part in operations at Pearl Harbor, Normandy and Cherbourg, France, and at Ormoc, Mindoro, Lingayon Gulf and Okinawa. He also participated in the carrier task force strikes against Tokyo and the Japanese mainland.

Outerbridge later both attended and taught at the Naval War College; he also taught at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. William Outerbridge retired from the Navy in 1957 as a Rear Admiral.

RADM Outerbridge married the former Grace Fulwood of Tifton, Georgia. They were the parents of three sons. The Admiral died on 20 September 1986. His last address was Tifton, Georgia.

Note: In the 1970 Hollywood movie, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Captain Outerbridge was portrayed by the actor, Jerry Fogel.