My Col. Gimperling Journey – part 10 – The rest of his West Point story

Thinking more about the “mutiny”, as some journalist labeled it, which occurred on the USMC campus April 1901 I can understand some of the cadet’s frustration. Reflecting to when I was 18, looking forward to moving away from home and having more control over my life and choices, I might have rebelled under similar circumstances. The cadets’ lives were already controlled from revile to retreat each day. Also, the cadets were some of the brightest and most intelligent young men from the Nation so part of academy life for many of the cadets would have been now to get around the system, have some fun and a little control of their own. I’m sure they might have enjoyed exerting control over the plebes. If you can’t control much of your own life why not try to control those who you can. Besides, when they were plebes they had to put up with all the mickey mouse treatment the upper class cadets put them through. I’m sure they did not think of themselves as hazers but building character and helping turn boys into men. Some probably thought it was their duty to break those who should not join the ranks of the Army because they were not tough enough. Now, Superintendent Mills was trying to take what little control they had over others away from them.

I remember a time when I enjoyed taking chances and not getting caught. I probably thought I was smarter than the average bear and could figure out a way to get around most obstacles and rules I felt unfair or restrictive. I was invincible and was going to live forever.  Negative things only happened to others and not me. Part of getting away with things and  not being caught was the recognition from those around me. When I did get caught the negative  consequences were generally less than the positive consequences so I would repeat the behavior. Pulling tricks on other trumpet players in junior high band and receiving swats for them was never a deterrent to doing them again.  A case in note was the recognition for being a goat and having the most demerits and still staying in school and graduating. Gimperling was a goat but not “the” goat of his class.
According to the 1904 Howitzer list of slang page221 a goat is: The first person in the class, section or other unit, counting from the bottom. A fiend is: A clever person. Fiendish: is Excellent; very good. O.D.: Officer of the day, a person to be avoided.

When I was a freshman in high school my step cousin Rick (my age) came through and stayed  a couple of days. He had been attending Wentworth Military Academy in Kansas and took me aside one day and showed me a suitcase full of demerit slips he had earned in his year at the Academy. He seemed quite proud of them but I was not impressed. Actually, If they had been mine, I would have been too embarrassed to show them to anyone.  Now I understand why he felt so proud of them. Learning can go a long way.

About the same time in the 1950s when I was sitting with Col. Gimperling on his dock listening to his stories a wonderful movie came out. It was titled “The Long Gray Line” and starred Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hare. I remember going to one of the two local theaters in McCook then and watching the movie with my parents. The story is about the life of Martin “Marty” Maher who spent 55 years working at the Academy. He was enlisted personnel at West Point while Cadet Gimperling was there. It is more than likely the two knew each other. The following video contains short scenes from that movie:

Clip is about 8 minutes long.

One of my fun finds were photos of Col. Gimperling’s dress uniform online and for sale at this site. I contacted the owner of the uniform and was told it had sold for $745 to a retired Army JAG officer. The past owner wrote me that he collected Army uniforms and had purchased a finer vintage uniform of that era then sold Gimperling’s.  Also that he had not gotten around to taking the photos down. I felt lucky to have come across them. Here was what I copied from the gentleman’s site:


The following description went along with the photos:

“Item MISC42-Pattern 1907 US Army Infantry Officer’s Full dress double breasted frock coat, trimmed with gold braid and light blue grosgrain silk around the collar. Has four gold quarter-foil braids on each sleeve indicating the rank of Lt. Colonel. Has gilt metal, pin-back crossed rifles on each cuff. Nice bullion full dress shoulder knots which came with this coat. The knots are marked on their backside, “Shannon, Miller and Crane, New York”. The coat is marked inside as follows; “Hatfield & Sons,Importers and Tailors, New York, 450 Fifth Ave, New York, T. N. Gimperling, Aug. 1904”. Each of the buttons has a separately applied eagle…beautiful. There is a small repair to the left sleeve at the seam and a small repair to the front where a decoration might have been. There is also a pin-head sized hole on the left side of the blue collar. It does not photograph and is not a detraction from display. There are several very small moth nips about the skirt as well.
COL Gimperling began his career with the 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War. He entered the United States Military Academy in 1899. Upon graduation in 1904, he was assigned to the 21st Infantry, serving in the Philippines from 1905 to 1906, and again from 1909 to 1912. In 1916, he accompanied General Pershing on the Mexican Punitive Expedition.
During WWI he served as an American officer training machine gun troops with the British. Gimperling was in action at Ypres and during the Somme Offensive. Served as the Commander of the 348th Machine Gun Battalion in the 91st Division. He was promoted to LTC in 1918.
After the War Gimperling served in the QM General’s office, where he was promoted to Colonel. In 1938 (error) he was appointed Military Attaché to Cuba. He retired in 1941, but was recalled to active duty for WWII. He served stateside on staff duty until his full retirement in 1944.
His awards and decorations include the Spanish War Medal, Philippine Campaign Medal, Mexican Service Medal, the WWI Victory Medal with Ypres, Somme Offensive, and Defensive Sector clasps, the American Campaign Medal and WWII Victory medal.
Included with the coat is an original photo of 2Lt. Gimperling upon graduation from West Point. He is wearing the officer’s white summer uniform. Included also is a chronology of Gimperling’s service record, a photocopy of a photo of him in uniform circa the 1930’s, and a photocopy of Gimperling’s obituary as it appeared in “The Assembly”, which is the magazine of West Point Alumni Association, the Association of Graduates.
But wait, there is more. Included is a 1902 field grade officer’s dress belt with the bullion facing and buckle. This has the correct saber hanger assembly as well. Some separation of the bullion from the leather but it still displays very well. –PENDING SALE AT $745—” My research tells me that some of the information above is not quite accurate but for the most part it is. (I’m wondering where the above information was obtained?) – I wrote LTCO Robb Kay who posted this listing and he replied that it came with the coat when he purchased it.

If you click on the above photo you will notice that the uniform label says “Hatfield and Son’s, Importers and Tailors, 450 5th Ave. New York, Mr. T.N. Gimperling, Date Aug. 1904”

At the time the date of August 1904 meant nothing to me. I went looking for information on Hatfield and Son’s and this is what I learned from the
Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States, Volume 20 revised 1897. I was not able to find much other than this one item about Hatfield. I just finished taking a more in depth look at the Journal and found it full of interesting historical trivia. Take a look at the hot link index in the journal to find items of interest.
Marcia Knedlik, from Germany, was looking over my shoulder as I was viewing the index to vol. 20 and she noticed that one of the internal book links went to the German Folding Bicycle. She said that she has some friends who use them when they come to Bad Reichenhall. They will park their cars in out of the way free lots then take their folding bike out and use that to get around the city.

Back to the date of Aug. 1904 – As I was doing additional Internet searching on the Col. which might shed more light on the August date,  I located the following:



ADNA R! CHAFFEE, Lieutenant General, Chief of Staff. Official:


Acting Adjutant General.

No. 12. f Washington, January 19, 1904.

Before a general court-martial -which convened at West Point, New York, pursuant to Special Orders, No. 6, Headquarters, U. S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, January 8 1904, and of which Captain Mason M. Patrick, Corps of Engineers, was president, and 1st Lieutenant Samuel T. Ansell, 11th Infantry, was judge advocate, was arraigned and tried—

Cadet Thomas N. Gimperling, first class, U. S. Military Academy.

Charge I.—”Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, contrary to paragraph 132, Regulations for the U. S. Military Academy, in violation of the 62d Article of War.”

Specification—”In that he, Cadet Thomas N. Gimperling, first class, U. S. Military Academy, did cause intoxicating liquor to be brought within the cadet limits. This at West Point, New York, on or about January 6, 1904.”

Charge 2.—”Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, contrary to paragraph 164, Regulations for the U. S. Military Academy, in violation of the 62d Article of War.”

Specification 1st—”In that he, Cadet Thomas N. Gimperling, first class, U. S. Military Academy, did arrange with a waiter in the cadet mess to procure for him, Cadet Gimperling, intoxicating liquor. This at West Point, New York, on or about January 6, 1904.”

Specification 2nd—”In that he, Cadet Thomas N. Gimperling, first class, U. S. Military Academy, did leave cadet limits and enter the storm door of the cadet mess kitchen for the purpose of receiving from a waiter in the cadet mess a bottle of intoxicating liquor. This at West Point, New York, at or about 6.50 p. m., January 6, 1904.”

Specification 3rd—”In that he, Cadet Thomas N. Gimperling, first class, U. S. Military Academy, having been confined to barracks, area of barracks and gymnasium until March 15, 1904, by paragraph 2, Special Orders, No. 286, Headquarters, U. S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, December 1, 1903, did break said confinement and did leave the area of barracks and enter the storm door of the cadet mess kitchen. This at West Point, New York, at or about 6.50 p. m., January 6, 1904.” To which charges and specifications the accused, Cadet

Thomas N. Gimperling, first class, U. S. Military Academy,

pleaded as follows:

Of the 1st Specification, “Guilty.”

Of the 2d Specification, ‘‘ Guilty.”

Of the 3d Specification, ” Guilty.”

Of the Charge, “Guilty.”


And the court does therefore sentence him, Cadet Thomas N. Gimperling, first class, U. S. Military Academy, To be dismissed from the service of the United States.”

The record of the proceedings of the general court-martial in the foregoing case of Cadet Thomas N. Gimperling, first class, U. S. Military Academy, having been forwarded for the action of the President, the following are his orders thereon:


White House, January 16,1904.

The sentence in the case of Cadet Thomas N. Gimperling, first class, United States Military Academy, Is approved, but, on the recommendation of the superintendent, which Is approved by the Chief of Staff and The Secretary of War. is commuted so that on the completion of the punishment which Cadet Gimperling is now serving he will be confined, until August I, I904, to the restricted limits usually awarded cadets underling punishment, and will serve one punishment tour on every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon during that period.



ADNA R. CHAFFEE, Lieutenant General, Chief of Staff. Official: +


Acting Adjutant General.


I’ve always wondered who obtained Cadet Gimperling’s appointment to the Academy. It indicated it was not an at-large appointment but from his home state Ohio. So, was it usual to have West Point military court decisions to dismiss sent to the President’s desk or was this special due to how he obtained his appointment? The question might very well be unanswerable from information available at this time. Or was it due to serving during the Spanish American War with Teddy Roosevelt?

Cadet Gimp did graduate with the class of 1904 but just a tad late that summer. In July of this year I found a site listing the Howitzer year books from West Pint. From that page I emailed  John Greiman. Here is my message to him:

Dear John - I'm not sure what your role is and your email address is the 
only one I could locate on the site so my message comes to you.
I am doing research on T. N. Gimperling class of 1904 and ran across 
USMA Howitzer yearbooks. His year book is listed.
I knew Col. Gimperling in the late 1950s when our two Grand Lake family 
cabins were a couple 100 feet apart. Last year I started researching the 
Col. to see how much I could learn about him and when I stopped I had 40 
pages of material.
It was such a fun journey on the internet I decided to start a blog on 
the Col. and what I discovered and learned. The one thing I have not been 
able to find is a photo of him as a cadet. Actually the only photo I 
have as of this message is the one in the Assembly.
Is there a way I can get a jpg photo of the dear Col. ?
Here is the address of my blog. hppt://

Here is John’s reply:
I've only gotten around to scanning the Howitzer covers and interesting 
pages. The USMA Library has continued with their digital library project 
and has scanned page 50 of the 1904 Howitzer with the picture of "Gimp":

I'll dig out the book box with the older Howitzers and fire up the scanner 
in the next couple of days.
Click on the picture to see a larger version.
He is a great picture of just the Gimp above that allow us to read what the Howitzer staff wrote about him.
John just supplied me with this pic. Be sure to click in it to see the larger version. Thanks, John
If you would like to view the entire Howitzer from 1904 here is the URL:
I guess John must have gotten his scanner out sometime after his email to me. I thank you John.
The Gimp is on page 50. And I suggest, for fun reading, go to pages 77 & 211 where Gimperling is mentioned again.
It appears that Cadet Gimperling was a great cadet to other cadets (a rebel with the purpose to get away with as much as he could and not get caught)but a pain in the neck to the officer core.
Here is just one more example I found:
Here is a photo of the ring he would have worn if not suspended for a year. I located it before I knew he had been washed back a year.
Here are some fun and interesting additional articles from my search:
This one is about goats at West Point. Just click on the image.
More on the goats:
A great read about the life of West Point cadets in 1860/1861.
It helped me understand the culture at West Point. If you are enjoying this blog you will probably enjoy the book.
Here is another book I ran across during my research. I have not read it, yet, but you should watch the video associated with this web page.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about Col. Gimps years at West Point.

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3 Responses to My Col. Gimperling Journey – part 10 – The rest of his West Point story

  1. Pingback: My Col. Gimperling Journey – part 11 – The Ghost Train | Lakeverna's Blog

  2. cccamserver says:

    Hello there! This post could not be written any better!
    Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!

    He continually kept talking about this. I will send this post to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a very good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • lakeverna says:

      It’s been quite a while since I wrote the article. I had to reread it before I could approve. Thanks for the comment. A couple of years ago several boys at our local high school took a small car apart so it would fit through the doors in the HS and then put it back together. Everyone, but the boys, was very surprised the next morning. Of course, the boys had to come forth to once again get it out of the building. They had not thought far enough down the path to realize they were the solution to getting it out and being discovered.

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