Gun Carriage Accident, 1902
I love the small side stories of West Point history. Items that are left out of the broad overviews that cover Grant, Pershing, and Ike. Today's article is about a gun carriage accident in July of 1902. The main player in the story is Captain Edwin St. J. Greble, son of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel John Trout Greble (USMA 1854), the first Academy graduate killed in the Civil War (and by some accounts the first Union Regular Army officer killed). 1st Lieutenant Greble fell in combat at the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10, 1861 and was breveted to Captain, Major, and Lt. Colonel before his death.
But back to the story. J. T. Greble had a son, Edwin, born in 1859 who graduated from West Point in 1881. In 1902, after service in the Pacific and in Cuba, he was stationed at West Point as a Senior Instructor in Artillery. On a July day in 1902, Greble had the entire first class of cadets on a march. As part of the drill was a team of horses pulling a gun carriage. A Cadet Collins rode one of the horses pulling the carriage and four cadets were on the back with the gun. From here, I'll quote from the New York Times:
In passing along a road at the foot of "Cro'nest" Mountain, near the intersection of the one leading to Newburg and below which there is an embankment of 13 feet, the lead horse began acting badly, and Capt. Greble ordered Cadet Collins to alight, and he himself mounted the animal. He had no sooner done so than the horse jumped off the embankment, dragging the other three horses with it. The limber turned over, and the heavy gun being wrenched from it, fell down the bank and upon Capt. Greble. Broth his legs were broken below the knee, and he is said to be injured internally. Cadet Moore also was thrown down the bank and badly injured. cadet Phillips sustained some slight bruises and scratches, but the other two cadets jumped and escaped injury.
Fortunately, all survived and appear to have recovered. Greble went on to serve again in Cuba and during the First World War as a Major General in the National Army but was physically unable to deploy to Europe. Whether he suffered from lingering effects of the accident are unknown.
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Source: "Accident at West Point," New York Times, Jul. 13, 1902.