With the annual Army-Navy game less than two weeks away, I thought I would share an interesting letter I found among the records of the Adjutant General’s Office (Record Group 94).
2nd Lieutenant Robert C. Foy, 8th U.S. Infantry, sent a letter to Major John A. Johnson, Assistant Adjutant General, on November 14, 1899, in which he provides his own “unbiased” assessment of the teams from West Point and Annapolis. After his salutation (see image above), he immediately jumped right in with his opinion declaring that
“[a]fter having seen the game put up by the Navy at Annapolis on Saturday I cannot help but feel we can beat them on Dec. 2nd.”
He based his prediction on a number of reasons which he highlighted at the beginning and towards the end of his correspondence. First, he stated in his second paragraph that Navy “play[s] an old style game” which convinces him “that they are not as fast as our own team.” Later he said “that Annapolis’ team is lighter than ours, and they have not the speed necessary to counterbalance what advantage we gain in this respect…. [and] their tackling is of an inferior order.” He does give Annapolis a slight advantage in punting and handling punts, but feels that West Point has “a right to expect much improvement in this department.”
In the middle of his letter, Lt. Foy discussed the recent games played by Army and Navy. Regarding Army’s game versus Columbia, he acknowledged “that the work of our team was not satisfactory.” However, he reasoned that “Columbia is a strong team” and had something to prove after losing to Cornell earlier in the week. As to Navy’s game against Trinity, he unequivocally stated
“[i]n spite of the fact that Annapolis won her own game on Saturday by a score of 35 to 0, she deserves little credit, for the opposing team…is no more than a makeshift.”
In the last paragraph of his letter (see image above), he repeated his belief that victory for West Point was assured because “as the teams now stand we have the better chance and we intend to increase what lead we have already by Dec. 2nd.”
A question that one may ask is whether Lt. Foy was accurate in his assessment. Well, Army did beat Navy that year 17-5, so it appears that he was correct.
**Disclaimer: The author admits that she works as a reference archivist specializing in records of the U.S. Army and that her brother-in-law is a graduate of West Point. She will be attending this year’s game on December 10 and will be cheering enthusiastically for Army.