The flagpole that stands outside of Jackman Hall was donated to the university in 1916 by the First Vermont Cavalry Regimental Association. Over thirty veterans of the regiment visited the university in December 1916 to formally present President Ira Reeves with the flagpole, flag, and bronze plaque.
As the plaque states, the First Vermont Cavalry participated in 76 battles and actions throughout the four years of the Civil War. They mustered out in April 1865, having lost 392 men over the course of the war. In the early part of the 20th century, Norwich University was quickly gaining a stellar reputation as a cavalry training school. It was for this reason, as well as the state connection, that the First Vermont Cavalry felt a strong enough affinity with the school to donate the now-iconic flagpole.
It was around this same time that the Norwich Corps of Cadets was granted another great honor because of its excellence in cavalry training. The regiment was named the honorary first squadron of the First Vermont Cavalry, a unit of the Vermont National Guard. It is not clear precisely when or why this status was granted or how long it stood. One thing is evident—that just a decade after it was created, Norwich University’s cavalry troop had already achieved distinction.
The flagpole, granite base, and plaque that were donated in 1916 are all still standing on the Upper Parade Ground, though the backdrop has changed dramatically in 101 years. The flag itself is likely one of two 48-star flags with uncertain provenance in the collection of the Sullivan Museum and History Center.
Contact the Norwich University Archives if you’re interested in learning more about this topic.