Delaware Military Academy, 1859 – 1862

Theodore HyattThe Hyatt Select School for Boy’s prospered and increased in popularity from 1855 to 1858. Then, Hyatt decided to include military drill and uniforms as a required part of the curriculum. Legend would have it that Hyatt wandered into the school gymnasium one day to discover his pupils drilling with broomsticks, and at that time he struck upon the idea of introducing military training. Confident of his new endeavor, Hyatt sought legislative sanction for his military school in 1859. These efforts met with success when the legislature of Delaware convened in January of that year. The adoption of such incorporation, however, appeared to be little more than a name change to Delaware Military Academy.

Almost immediately Hyatt applied to the state for arms and received 80 sword bayonets, 80 cartridge boxes, 14 light artillery sabres, 40 rifles, and two pieces of field artillery. In April, Governor Burton appointed and commissioned Theodore Hyatt as an additional aide-de-camp on his staff with the rank of colonel. In addition, changes to the uniform were also made. Hyatt adopted the cadet gray of West Point rather than the blue of the Hyatt School.

Unfortunately Hyatt had the misfortune of developing DMA at the apex of tension in Delaware preceding the Civil War. An ardent Unionist, Hyatt became embroiled in a controversy with local secessionists regarding the military equipment Delaware had supplied to DMA. Commencement exercises in June, 1862, concluded the short but eventful life of the Delaware Military Academy. Hyatt had decided that it was prudent to seek a more favorable political climate for DMA in West Chester, PA.

The life span of Delaware Military Academy and its predecessors in Delaware covered a total of 41 years. This small academy in Wilmington took a giant stride forward when its young visionary educator was enraptured by his student’s avid interest in exercising with brooms.

Dr. B. Franklin Cooling, III was an Assistant Professor of History at PMC Colleges when he wrote Delaware Military Academy 1859-1862. Currently he is the Chairman of the Grand Strategy Department Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. He has graciously granted his permission for the re-publication of his work. To read Dr. Cooling’s complete and detailed history of DMA click here.