This story relates to: Col. Hiram B Ely (1896-1987)

The 1917 West Point Graduate

The 1917 and 1918 Howitzer

West Point Cadet Hiram Baldwin Ely

In 1914 when Hiram first entered West Point, he and his classmates were designated as the Class of 1918. But because of World War I, the training of the Classes of 1917 and 1918 was accelerated. In addition to intensive practical training, Hiram's class pursued a special abridged course of academic instruction. The Class of 1917 graduated in April instead of June 1917, and Hiram's Class of 1918 graduated on August 30, 1917.

Hiram was a "Distinguished Cadet" as his total proportional parts on the general merit roll of his class at the close of the 1917 academic year exceeded 92 per cent of the possible total. He had distinctions in: Mathematics, History, Practical Military Engineering (Surveying), Drill Regulations (Infantry and Artillery), Chemistry and Drill Regulations (Cavalry and Artillery). He graduated 3rd in his class. He had been 1st but missed a train back from Vassar College and received demerit points for returning late to West Point dropping him to 3rd.[1] But he graduated as a captain instead of a lieutenant which was most unusual.

The entry in West Point's yearbook, The 1917 and 1918 Howitzer, for Hi reads:

Hi was shunted to us via the University of Michigan. Just what he did up there is a matter of speculation, but he came to West Point an Engineer, and has remained an Engineer to the end. Like all true-blue Engineers, 3.0's are his passion—and he gets them. Hiram amassed 3.0's his Plebe year. His Yearling year was the same, and even lately history has repeated itself.

Now, Hi impresses one as having a Rule of Life. Whatever that rule may be he lives by it religiously and has followed it with success in his years with us.

On any subject of discussion, Hiram is from Missouri. He listens carefully to all expoundings, then gathers in all available data, connects the whole mass in series, and short circuits to the salient point.

It is rumored that Cupid has not shot his arrows aimlessly—we'll watch him closely for a time after graduation.

Indeed, Cupid had not shot aimlessly. The day of his West Point graduation, Hi married Zelie in the West Point Cadet Chapel.

West Point, 1911 - The Beginnings Of A Life In Service

Below is a segment of a video about Dwight D. Eisenhower's experience at West Point. Hiram's experience would have been very similar.

West Point Cadets 1916

The Record (Hackensack NJ), 10 Aug 1915
Image of newspaper article which reads in part: Hiram B Ely is one of 7 distinguished cadets. Cadet Ely's standing is third in a class of 184. Hiram is a graduate of Rutherford High School and was very popular in Rutherford before entering the academy.
Evening Star (Washington DC), 31 Aug 1917
Image of newspaper article which reads in part: New class graduated. Military academy cadets told of responsibilities by Secretary Baker. The men are of the class of 1918 but were given their diplomas 10 months ahead of time. The first ten men in the class are Cyril Courture, Herman Pohl, Gerald Counts, Hiram B Ely…
The Record (Hackensack NJ), 12 Oct 1917
Image of newspaper article which reads in part: Lieutenant Hiram Baldwin Ely…who last August graduated with high honors at West Point, being third in his class, has been assigned to the position of instructor at West Point, as head of the corps of engineers. Ely was selected for this high and responsible position due to his special ability for the post, out of 151 cadets who graduated with him. The newly appointed instructor is only 21 years old. It has never been known at West Point to select so young a man for such a high position. The appointment carries with it a permanent residence at West Point which is furnished by the government.
The Record (Hackensack NJ), 26 Oct 1917
Image of newspaper article which reads in part: Captain Hiram Ely youngest of that rank in army. Hiram Ely…has received his commission as captain in the regular army, which is dated August 30. Captain Ely is now connected with the Engineering Corps and has been detailed back to West Point as instructor in mathematics. This latter detail is of unusual honor, it being the first instance where a graduate cadet of less than two years' standing has been assigned as instructor at West Point.


  1. [1] According to Hiram Ely's son, Hiram Ely, Jr, as told to Hope Stewart, December 1993.

Published: 16 July 2023

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