Letter from W. Z. McGhee to Colonel Asbury Coward, April 27, 1898


Letter from W. Z. McGhee to Colonel Asbury Coward, April 27, 1898


Letter from W. Z. McGhee to Colonel Asbury Coward concerning the Cadet Rebellion of 1898, also known as the Cantey Rebellion.



CP8, Box 5, Folder 2


The Citadel Archives & Museum



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Asbury Coward Collection









Date Valid


[Page 1]
S. C. College,
Columbia, SC
27 April 1898
Col. A. Coward

Dear Col. Coward,
I see a piece of literature in the State today which I clip out and send to you. It is only the best possible proof that the truths hit “home”. My desire in writing the article for the News & Courier which afterwards came out in the State, was to counteract the sentiment among many good people that these boys had acted as heroes and that something was wrong with the authorities, not because they expelled the boys, but because they permitted such a state of things to exist. I wrote this letter purposely without any authority, or knowledge on the part of any of the Faculty or Board. The only consultation was to ask a member of the Board here if my remark

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about the five cadets reported by Cantey denying their offence. The member told me some of them did, but he (the mem. Bd) did not wish to be authority for the statement. He told me “confidentially”.

Such a scurrilous and funny letter as the one enclosed is sufficient testimony that my remarks about the leaders in that affair were true, and the letter is answer sufficient unto itself. Since, however, I may be called upon to give authority for my statements, I write to ask you to send me a short statement answering pointedly these questions
(1) Did the five boys deny that they broke garrison? When did they withdraw their denial?
(2) Is the Sergeant of the Guard “on duty” after the sentinels are taken off at night?
(3) Had the First Class been lax in enforcing the Regulations? (I heard you had once thought of reducing them to ranks and appointing the officers from 2nd Class)

The people and some newspapers throughout the State are making heroes out of these boys and I would hate to be unable to show that there is another side to it at least. Please send me this statement, for publication if my authority is questioned: at once, if you can.

x x x x x x

I note the action of the Association of Graduates.

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I am glad to see it. Of course, I shall sign it. I had already written to the Governor, offering what service he deemed me capable of, being careful to let him understand that I was seeking neither money, adventure, nor glory.

Please give my regards to Mrs. Coward and say to her that I greatly appreciate her kind letter endorsing my letter. I received letters also from Capt. Coleman, Cantey, Cadet Corouch, Ex-Cadets Buzhardt, ’90, Robt. A. Smyth, and Mr. Jas. Allan Jr. I was not writing for thanks, but for the truth and the right.

I am as ever,
Very sincerely Yours,
W. Z. McGhee

P. S. I do not intend to go into any long argument again. If I write anything at all, it will be merely to give the statements, with little comment. Of course, what I say will be in a thoroughly dignified way, and not an answer to this piece of literature clipped from the State.

W. Z. M.


McGhee, W. Z., “Letter from W. Z. McGhee to Colonel Asbury Coward, April 27, 1898,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed July 16, 2024, https://citadeldigitalarchives.omeka.net/items/show/583.