Philadelphia’s Free Military School and the Radicalization of Wartime Officer Education, 1863–64


In 1863 leading voices from Philadelphia’s antislavery circle aligned with veteran Union offi cers to establish a school that would prepare white soldiers for offi cer examinations with the United States Colored Troops. The Philadelphia Free Military School offered a stark partisan contrast to the prevailing military education model at West Point, an institution maligned for supposedly failing to inculcate proper notions of political loyalty. The FMS succeeded in training enlisted men and noncommissioned officers in the art of command by drawing heavily from specific units with strong pro-Republican pedigrees.