1895 Carlisle-Army Game?

The other day, Frank Loney asked me to look at two 1895 letters written by W. G. Thompson, Carlisle Indian School Disciplinarian. It’s always a treat doing things like that because you never know what you will find. The letters were from July and October 1895. The first letter, the typed one, attempted to arrange a football game for the upcoming season. However, the party to whom the letter was addressed was not mentioned in the letter. That the second letter, the handwritten one, was written to a Chas. L. Poor in Annapolis, Md. This letter was written after the October 26, 1895 game with Navy and mentioned the previous year’s game. The first letter also mentioned the previous year’s game.

Carlisle first fielded a football team in 1893. Due to the late start, they played two November games against high schools. To the Disciplinarian fell many tasks and managing the football team was one of them, at least before Pop Warner arrived in 1899. The task of coaching the team fell to Vance McCormick in 1894 but Thompson was still responsible for arranging the games. Thompson arranged a complete schedule of games for 1894 for the Indians’ first real season. These letters document part of the process for arranging the 1895 schedule and managing the financial details of the game.

The only teams Carlisle played in both 1894 and 1895 were Navy, Bucknell and York YMCA. All the clues in the letters point to Navy; None point to Bucknell or York YMCA.

The next-to-last sentence was the prize in this package. It read, “I am holding decisions on dates with several universities that you and West Point may have preference of dates.” I interpret the “you” to mean the Naval Academy and West Point to be the Military Academy – Army. This means that Carlisle attempted to schedule Army a decade before the historic 1905 game. One need little imagination to think of reasons why Thompson was unsuccessful in scheduling a game with Army.

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