The 1905 Presidential Inauguration was a big deal, especially for Carlisle. They had marched at inaugurations before, but this one was special. President-elect Teddy Roosevelt wanted to “make a big show,” likely because his first inauguration was a short, somber affair held in the home of Ansley Wilcox after President McKinley’s assassination. They pulled out all the stops to make his 1905 inauguration a day to remember. Already a staple of inauguration parades after appearing in two previous ones, the Carlisle Indian School Cadets (essentially the large boys) and the renowned school band were expected to march again. However, this time some celebrities would appear with them.
A week or so before the inauguration, six famous chiefs from formerly hostile tribes, arrived in Carlisle to head the school’s contingent in the parade. But, before they left for Washington, there was much to do. First, they spoke to an assembly of students through interpreters. A dress rehearsal was held on the main street of Carlisle to practice for the parade. The Carlisle Herald predicted that the group would be one of the big parade’s star attractions.
Those marching in the parade were woken at 3:45 a.m., had breakfast at 4:30, and were the special train to Washington at 5:30. As the train rolled out of Carlisle, a heavy snow fell, but later the sun burned through, making for a fine day weather-wise. Fortunately, the travelers had lunch on the train because it was late in arriving in Washington. They were hurried into the last division of the Military Grand Division. Originally, they were to have been in the Civic Grand Division, but Gen. Chaffee transferred all cadets under arms to the military division, putting them in a separate brigade. Leading the group was Geronimo, in full Apache regalia including war paint, sitting astride his horse, also in war paint, in the center of the street. To either side, on their horses in their regalia and war paint, rode the five other chiefs: American Horse (Oglala Sioux), Hollow Horn Bear (Brulé Sioux), Little Plume (Blackfeet), Buckskin Charlie (Ute), and Quanah Parker, (Comanche). Following them came the 46-piece Carlisle Indian School Band led by Claude M. Stauffer. Capt. William M. Mercer, superintendent of the school and member of the 7th Cavalry, led the 350 Carlisle Cadets from horseback.
All in President’s box rose when the Carlisle contingent passed. The old chiefs were the object of the most interest from the crowd. Roosevelt said, “This is an admirable contrast-first the chiefs, in their native costumes and then these boys from Carlisle.” Marching ahead of Carlisle in the Military Grand Division were the Cadets from West Point and the 7th Cavalry, whose band played “Garry Owen,” their regiment song, when they passed. President Roosevelt remarked, “That is a bully fighting tune, and this is Custer’s old regiment, one of the finest in the service.” Capt. Mercer surely heard his regiment’s song and may have requested the Carlisle band to play it on occasion.
Perhaps being in close proximity to the War Department and West Point officials gave Mercer the opportunity to discuss a football game between Carlisle and Army. About six weeks later a game between the two government schools appeared on a schedule published in the school paper. The historic event would take place the following November 11.