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Examination for 2nd Lieutenant: 1867

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by John Hartwell, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    As part of the research I'm doing for another thread, I came across this copy of an examination of a candidate who had already secured an appointment by the War Department as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 20th U.S. Infantry. I thought they might be of interest.

    The examination was given at "Louisville, Ky. Sept. 20, 1867, Brevet Brigadier Genl Cady, President of Examining Board."

    The candidate first had to first a one-page "military autobiography," outlining what previous experience he had. Then he was asked the following 27 questions:


    What are the Articles of War?

    What is the form of our government?

    Into what three branches is it divided?

    What is the number of Senators?

    How are Senators elected?

    What determines the number of Representatives from each state?

    How is the President elected?

    How is he elected if he does not receive a majority of electoral votes?

    What is Treason?

    What are the rules of arithmetic?

    Subtract ⅓ from ⅗.

    Multiply ⅓ x ⅔.

    Into what general divisions is the earth divided?

    What are the names of the oceans?

    What are the principal kingdoms of Europe?

    What are the Republics of Europe?

    What sea separates Europe from Africa?

    What is the most southern cape of Africa? .

    What that of America?

    What are the boundaries of the United States?

    How many degrees of longitude are there?

    How many of north and south latitude?

    How many motions has the earth?

    What is the period of the moon’s revolution around the sun?

    What are the summer months at Cape Horn?

    Where were the first settlements made in the United States?

    Where was the first bloodshed during the Revolutionary war?



    It's a very basic test designed, I think, not so much to demonstrate any useful knowledge, as to indicate the candidate's general education.

    I would do well, I think, except for the three arithmetic questions: it has been way too long for me to recall the rules and formulas I barely retained an hour after I last needed them. Math was always my weakest subject.
     

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  3. GELongstreet

    GELongstreet 1st Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

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    There are some questions I can´t answer because I simply don´t know; but also some I´m not sure I completely understand vocabulary/grammar-wise or because they, as I read them, are pretty ambiguous. Could anybody be so nice and answer them? Probably the intended answers were given as well, @John Hartwell?

    Into what general divisions is the earth divided? Is this referring to continents or hemispheres? Or something else?

    What are the boundaries of the United States? Is this referring to the neighboring nations or something like mileage of border or size of territory? Or geographical limits like the oceans etc.?

    Where were the first settlements made in the United States? I assume this is referring to settlements of the European settlers and not the native ones, aye? In the area of the US at all or just after the US became the independent US? Which/where was it?
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
  4. Youngblood

    Youngblood Sergeant

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    Jamestown Virginia 1607
     
  5. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    The document I copied them from included not the correct answers, but one candidate's answers. Of the 27 questions, he ten times responded: "I cannot answer it," or "I do not know."
    Six times his answer was clearly wrong.
    Four times at least partially wrong.
    Leaving, at most, seven correct answers.

    He did not pass. Secretary Stanton (as a favor to a political ally) gave the young man (a wartime MoH recipient) six months to study up and take the test again, whereupon he passed. I'll be telling his story in another thread soon.

    As to your first example, he gave "Eastern and Western Hemisphere;" which is correct, but, like you, I don't know if it was satisfactory.

    As to the boundaries, I expect they meant neighboring countries and oceans (considering the rather simple nature of the other questions). Our applicant was correct in naming the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf, Mexico and Canada, but he also added "Russian America" to the north. I suppose that with the recent talk about acquiring Alaska, he might have thought it was contiguous with US territory. (that one I counted as partly wrong).

    He named Jamestown correctly, but as they asked "settlements" (plural) he probably should have added at least Plymouth. At the time I doubt if anyone would have thought of native settlements, or, for that matter, of anything but English settlements. (Santa Fe? No way!) There were also some unsuccessful English colonies he might have mentioned (Roanoke, Popham Colony)
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
  6. Story

    Story First Sergeant

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    ...and except possible for understanding the Articles of War, not knowing the answers to a single one of these questions will help a junior officer how to; understand commander's intent, understand a verbal/written order, execute a verbal/written order, negotiate with a Hostile who may/may not speak English, keep his men in good health, defend a position, take a position, move a small unit quickly, ad nauseum & etc.
     
  7. civilken

    civilken 1st Lieutenant

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    I have to say I like our upgrade to second Lieut. a lot better then the test they give. In all honesty I found it a lot more than what I would've expected.
     
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  8. Waterloo50

    Waterloo50 Major Silver Patron

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    I think that's a pretty smart test for determining an individuals level of education. I note that the test is divided into Geography, Geology, Civil law, Military law, Math, History and Politics and of course the examiner would be able to tell a lot about spelling, grammar and comprehension. I'll be honest here and say that I would probably have had to resit that test.
     
  9. NH Civil War Gal

    NH Civil War Gal Sergeant Major

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    For settlements, I'm pretty sure one of the answers, besides Jamestown and Plymouth would be Popham, Maine. Their is a small fort there (Ft Popham) and is was a settled area right after Jamestown. They have a small but neat museum there with their archeological finds.
     
  10. kevikens

    kevikens 2nd Lieutenant

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    If English America,
    Roanoke, 22 years before Jamestown, Plymouth 13 years after. By the way some of those answers would be different today. Alaska acquired in the year of the exam. Senators before the 17th Amendment were chosen by state legislatures, not a popular vote among the electorate. Some others somewhat nebulous and debatable but a Second Lt. willing to argue the point with the examining board might actually fare well if he could logically argue the points of contention. I think the hardest parts today (without calculators) might have been the fractions for those who were never taught how to reduce fractions to a common denominator to perform the function. Now imagine Phil Sheridan is presiding over the examining board and the question arises, "How do we get crows to carry their own provender with them?" Anybody got a light?
     
  11. ikesdad

    ikesdad Sergeant

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  12. Waterloo50

    Waterloo50 Major Silver Patron

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    That test really bothered me, I lay awake last night trying to work out what ⅓ x ⅔ was, I got there in the end but I'm pretty sure the examiner would after 12 hours or more told me to leave the room.
     
  13. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator

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    Look forward to seeing that story!
     
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  14. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    Me, too! I'm working on it, haven't quite figured out just how I'm going to tell it. It's a wild, complicated story: fascinating, sometimes pitiful, sometimes so outrageous it's funny. It involves murder, deception and fraud, bigamy as well as the Medal of Honor -- and Custer's 7th Cavalry!
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  15. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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  16. gary

    gary Captain

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  17. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator

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    Great story! Thanks!
    Although it does, indeed, seem fantastic that such a young man would be able to take charge and twice lead a regiment in such a dangerous mission, one has to assume that Magee did not look like a 'fuzzy-faced' boy but more like a confident man. Whatever it was, it drew praise from those in command. Who are we, 154 years later, to doubt his heroism?
     
  18. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    Having completed the story of Willie Magee in the other thread, here are his actual answers to that first examination:

    EXAM:

    What are the Articles of War? I cannot answer it.
    What is the form of our government? A free government
    Into what three branches is it divided? Legislative, Executive, and Supreme Court
    What is the number of Senators? Two from each state.
    How are Senators elected? Elected by the people.
    What determines the number of Representatives from each state? I cannot answer it.
    How is the President elected? By the people.
    How is he elected if he does not receive a majority of electoral votes? House of Representatives.
    What is Treason? Any act against the government.

    What are the rules of arithmetic? I cannot answer it.
    Subtract ⅓ from ⅗. I cannot do it.
    Multiply ⅓ x ⅔. I cannot do it.

    Into what general divisions is the earth divided? Eastern and Western Hemisphere.
    What are the names of the oceans? Artic, Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Southern.
    What are the principal kingdoms of Europe? Sweden, Russia, Prussia, Spain, Austria, Germany, Italy.
    What are the Republics of Europe? I do not know.
    What sea separates Europe from Africa? Red sea.
    What is the most southern cape of Africa? I do not know.
    What that of America? I do not know.
    What are the boundaries of the United States? On the north Russian America and Canada. On the east by Atlantic Ocean. On the south by Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico. On the west by Pacific Ocean.

    How many degrees of longitude are there? 360.
    How many of north and south latitude? 90.
    How many motions has the earth? One.
    What is the period of the moon’s revolution around the sun? I cannot answer.
    What are the summer months at Cape Horn? I cannot answer.

    Where were the first settlements made in the United States? Jamestown.
    Where was the first bloodshed during the Revolutionary war? Lexington.
     
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