The Knox Trophy – West Point USMA’s Oldest Award

The Knox Trophy is an award that was established on October 8, 1910 and given annually by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York to the United States Military Academy cadet with the highest rating for military efficiency. Named in honor of Henry Knox, the first US Secretary of War, the original trophy, made by Tiffany & Company was originally kept on display in the office of the West Point Commandant and is the oldest continuously presented award at the US Military Academy.

2010 will mark the 100th anniversary of the presentation of the Knox Trophy. According to the Sons of the Revolution in New York (SRNY), the trophy was designed by Tiffany & Company and stands 16″ tall and has a diameter of 9″ and was created when  Edmund Wetmore was the Presidents of SRNY.

History

On Saturday, October 8, 1910, to celebrate the anniversary of the Continental Army’s October 1777 victorious Saratoga Campaign that convinced the French to join the war, the Sons of the Revoluton (NY) First Vice President Mr. Robert Olyphant, on behalf of the Society visited with a contingency and addressed the Cadets at West Point and presented them the large silver cup, the Knox Trophy. Lieutenant Colonel W. S. Sibley, USA , Commandant of Cadets received the cup on behalf of the United States Military Academy.  Edmund Wetmore, President of the Sons of the Revolution in New York was unable to attend due to illness.

On that Saturday in 1910,  Lieutenant Colonel Sibley was quoted as saying;
“It is especially appropriate that such a trophy should be presented by the descendants of the noble men who so heroically fought for and achieved the independence of this Nation to the young graduate about to enter upon his career as a soldier whose duty it will be to defend this liberty so hardly won by our ancestors. I thank you in the name of the Corps of Cadets.”

The Knox Trophy exhibit at Fraunces Tavern museum (photo: upper left)  was designed and created by former SRNY President, Dr. Laurence Simpson. Since the early 1960s, each winner has received a similar keepsake Tiffany silver Revere Bowl.  The Cadet keepsake bowl, alongside a print of General Henry Knox, is on display at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan. The Sons of the Revolution of New York owns and operates Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan, which is near Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. It’s one of the most prestigious and famous historic landmarks in the United States. Part museum and part live tavern/restaurant, if you haven’t been, you need to put it on your bucket list.

Why the Name Knox

Why name the trophy after General Knox? Even though he was often referred to as “the forgotten General”, Knox was actually one of General Washington’s three closest generals and one of his best friends. But many don’t know that not only was he the father of the American artillery, he was also the co- founder of the US Navy. Knox was also the founder of the first Military Arsenal (Springfield, MA), and America’s first military Artillery Academy (Pluckemin, NJ). He commanded  West Point, which later became the USMA. Knox organized what is known today as organized Society of Cincinnati, and became the first US Secretary of War. A noted bookseller in his early days, he was also a brick maker, a cattle raiser, ship builder, lumber cutter, and a dedicated family man with one wife and 12 children. Kind of ironic that such a dedicated military man didn’t die on the battle field, but was actually taken down and killed from a lodged chicken bone. True.

Knox Trophy Recipients

What type of Cadets have won the Knox Trophy? You will see some the top Army officers on that list; William Westmoreland, Pete Dawkins (1959 Heisman Trophy winner/halfback), and several others, including John P. McConnell who was later the US Air Force Chief of Staff. Four of the Knox trophy winners became four star generals. Three winners are currently stationed at West Point. The majority of the winners were also the First Captain at the time of their graduation, the highest ranking senior cadet at the Academy. You can see the entire list at the end of the post.

” West Point chooses the recipient each year,” noted Dr. Simpson. “Currently the award is presented to the graduating senior cadet with the highest score in military science. The award is given annually at a special ceremony prior to graduation.” Each winner’s name and the year they receive the award are inscribed on the keepsake trophy.

Photo Above: Awards convocation May 31, 2002 – The Knox Trophy presented to Cadet Andrew T. Blickhahn by Dr. Laurence S. Simpson, president – Sons of the Revolution in the State of NY ——————————————-

According to Dan Coleman, a Sons of the Revolution in NY president in the late 70’s early 80’s, “the trophy was prominently displayed in the foyer of the hall where the ceremony was held.”  The photo at the right was held in Eisenhower Hall, a later building used for the ceremony.

Sherman L. Fleek, Lt. Col. US Army (Ret) United States Military Academy Command Historian noted, “The cadets undergo months and months, years actually of leadership evaluations, testing, training, and so on, since the trophy winners seemed to be First Captains because the First Captain excelled in leadership.”

Lt. Col. Fleek has promised that he’ll let us know when he locates the actual trophy. The Sons of the Revolution in New York is also looking into where the original trophy is being kept and displayed.

No one seems to know exactly where the original trophy resides today, but it is suspected to be in the USMA West Point Museum somewhere, according to military officials.

Sounds like another trip to the USMA in West Point is in order.

More Knox Awards

Researching further, there was also another Knox Trophy and Knox Metal that was presented by the Sons of the Revolution in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1922-1940. Why a state level organization presented the award is unclear, but nonetheless the name was clearly to mark artillery excellence in the name of Major General Henry Knox.

On another note, interestingly, 1924 also is the year an annual competition to determine the best small cavalry unit in the Army was established. Named the Draper Combat Leadership Award, this cavalry competition was first held at Fort Riley, Kansas– then the home of the Cavalry School. Click Here to read more.

Additional Information:

  • In case you’re wondering – the wikipedia post about the Knox Trophy originated here, not the other way around.
  • Download pages from the Flintlock & Powderhorn Vol. 5 Winter 1987 including ALL the winners of the Knox Trophy from 1910 -1987 – Click Here
  • To learn more about the Sons of the Revolution and Fraunces Tavern – Click Here
  • To learn more about the history of West Point – Click Here
  • To learn more about where General Knox created his first military training academy before West Point – Click Here.
  • If you’re looking for a fun day out, go visit the West Point region. Here’s a great website. Click Here

List of Knox Trophy Recipients

Most of the recipients were the First Captain of their graduating class, but it is not a requirement to win the award. You will see some of America’s top Army officers on that list; William Westmoreland, Pete Dawkins (1959 Heisman Trophy winner/halfback), and several others, including John P. McConnell who was later the US Air Force Chief of Staff. Four of the Knox trophy winners became four star generals. As of 1987, three winners were stationed at West Point. The 1955 winner, Col. Lee D. Olvey, head of the Department of Social Sciences. The 1968 winner LTC John L. Throckmorton, Jr., Treasurer of the USMA, LTC Robert H. Baldwin, Jr., professor / Department of Social Sciences.

  • 2015 –  TBC
  • 2014 – TBC
  • 2013 – TBC
  • 2012 – TBC
  • 2011 – TBC
  • 2010 –  TBC
  • 2009 – Justin Wei Sen Lee
  • 2008 – Jason Crabtree, First Captain USMA
  • 2007 – Jonathan C. Nielsen, First Captain USMA
  • 2006 – Peter J. Cacossa
  • 2005 – James M. Edelen
  • 2004 – Joseph Z. Wells
  • 2003 – John R. Rhodes, Jr.
  • 2002 – Andrew T. Blickhahn, First Captain USMA
  • 2001 – Jonathan J. Hopkins
  • 2000 – Scott Handler
  • 1999 – Robert M. Shaw, First Captain USMA
  • 1998 – Robert K. Bryant
  • 1997 – Joseph M. Ewers
  • 1996 – Scott M. Naumann
  • 1995 – Hans J. Pung, First Captain USMA
  • 1994 – Howard H. Hoege, First Captain USMA
  • 1993 – Shawn Lance Daniel, First Captain USMA
  • 1992 – Omar J. Jones IV, First Captain USMA
  • 1991 – Douglas P. McCormick, First Captain USMA
  • 1990 – Kristin M. Baker, First Captain USMA , first female recipient, First Woman Brigade Commander
  • 1989 – Mark M. Jennings, First Captain USMA
  • 1988 – Gregory H. Louks, First Captain USMA
  • 1987 – John Kai Tien, Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1986 – Timothy Alan Knight, First Captain USMA
  • 1985 – Brian Lawrence Dosa, First Captain USMA
  • 1984 – William Edward Rapp, First Captain USMA
  • 1983 – Lawrence John Kinde, First Captain USMA
  • 1982 – John William Nicholson, Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1981 – Stanley Raymon March, First Captain USMA
  • 1980 – Vincent Keith Brooks, First Captain USMA
  • 1979 – John Joseph Cook III, First Captain USMA
  • 1978 – James Allen Hoffman II, First Captain USMA
  • 1977 – Kenneth Franklin Miller, First Captain USMA
  • 1976 – Richad Morales, Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1975 – James Kevin Abcouwer, First Captain USMA
  • 1974 – Jack Edward Pattison, First Captain USMA
  • 1973 – Joseph Phillips Tallman, First Captain USMA
  • 1972 – Robert Lewis Van Antwerp, Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1971 – Thomas Alan Pyrz, First Captain USMA
  • 1970 – John Thomas Connors, First Captain USMA
  • 1969 – Robert Henry Baldwin,Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1968 – John Lathrop Throckmorton, Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1967 – Jack Bruce Wood, First Captain USMA
  • 1966 – Norman Elliott Fretwell, First Captain USMA
  • 1965 – Carl Robert Arvin, First Captain USMA
  • 1964 – Richard Allen Chilcoat, First Captain USMA
  • 1963 – Richard Everett Eckert, First Captain USMA
  • 1962 – James Raiford Ellis, First Captain USMA , graduated with James Kimsey of AOL fame.
  • 1961 – Harold Michael Hannon, First Captain USMA
  • 1960 – Charles Paddoc Otstott, First Captain USMA
  • 1959 – Peter Miller Dawkins, First Captain USMA, Heisman Trophy winner,Brigadier General, CEO Primerica,Vice Chair CitiGroup Private Bank, Royal Oak, MI
  • 1958 – Robert Francis Durkin, First Captain USMA, Major General, Director Defense Mapping Agency,Washington DC. Youngstown, OH
  • 1957 – William Thomas Huckabee III, First Captain USMA
  • 1956 – Robert Gordon Farris, First Captain USMA , fellow graduate H. Norman Schwarzkopf Commander-in-Chief
  • 1955 – Lee Donne Olvey, First Captain USMA
  • 1954 – John Chapman Bard, First Captain USMA
  • 1953 – Robert Erwin Barton, First Captain USMA
  • 1952 – Gordon David Carpenter, First Captain USMA
  • 1951 – William Joseph Ryan, First Captain USMA, fellow graduate Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Astronaut
  • 1950 – John Michael Murphy, First Captain USMA , fellow graduate Frank Borman,Astronaut and CEO Eastern Airlines
  • 1949 – Harry Agustus Griffith, First Captain USMA
  • 1948 – Arnold Web Braswell, First Captain USMA
  • 1947 – William Jackson Schuder, First Captain USMA (same class as Alexander M.Haige
  • 1946 – Amos Azariah Jordan, Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1945 – Robert Evans Woods , First Captain USMA
  • 1944 – John Holloway Cushman, First Captain USMA
  • 1943 – Jun – Bernard William Rogers ,First Captain USMA
  • 1943 – Jan – James Edward Kelleher , First Captain USMA
  • 1942 – Carl Columbus Hinkle, Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1941 – John Norton , First Captain USMA
  • 1940 – John Finzer Presnell, Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1939 – James Lewis Cantrell, First Captain USMA
  • 1938 – Harold Killian Kelley, First Captain USMA
  • 1937 – Stanley Lowell Smith, First Captain USMA
  • 1936 – William Childs Westmoreland, First Captain USMA, WWII and Vietnam service, Time Magazines Man of Year 1965, Saxon, SC
  • 1935 – Herbert Caran Gee, First Captain USMA
  • 1934 – John de P.Townsend Hills, First Captain USMA
  • 1933 – Kenneth E. Fields, First Captain USMA
  • 1932 – John Paul McConnell, First Captain USMA, four-star General, and US Air Force Chief of Staff, Booneville, AK
  • 1931 – John Knight Waters , First Captain USMA, Four Star General, Son in Law to Patton. Commandant USMA 1946
  • 1930 – Ralph Powell Swofford, Jr., First Captain USMA
  • 1929 – Bruce Douglas Rindlaub, First Captain USMA
  • 1928 – James Elbert Briggs, , First Captain USMA, Rochester, NY
  • 1927 – Charles Edward Martin, First Captain USMA
  • 1926 – Raymond Coleman Maude, First Captain USMA
  • 1925 – Charles Eskridge Saltzman, First Captain USMA
  • 1924 – Robert Vernon Lee ,SC, First Captain USMA
  • 1923 – Hugh Wagner Downing (Not First Captain)
  • 1922 – Charles Joseph Barrett, First Captain USMA
  • 1921 – George Hamden Olmsted, , First Captain USMA
  • 1920 – Howard Louis Peckham
  • 1919 – Hugh Ambrose Murrill
  • 1918 – John Thornton Knight, Jr.
  • 1917 – Robert Marks Bathurst
  • 1916 – Raymond George Moses, First Captain USMA
  • 1915 – Roscoe Barnett Woodruff, First Captain USMA (was also the class of Dwight David Eisenhower) 59 out of the 164 graduates rose to the rank of Brigadier General or higher
  • 1914 – James Bell Cress, First Captain USMA
  • 1913 – David Edward Cain, , First Captain USMA ,MO
  • 1912 – William Dean, First Captain USMA
  • 1911 – Benjamin Curtis Lockwook, Jr., First Captain USMA,Columbus Barracks, OH

 

One thought on “The Knox Trophy – West Point USMA’s Oldest Award

  1. Vol. 2, No. 7 (July 2008)
    The SRNY Patriot (Online Monthly)

    On May 30th, 2008 Sons of the Revolution NY Board Member Philip Coombe III traveled to the U.S. Military Academy (West Point, NY) to present the Knox Trophy to Cadet 1st Captain Jason Crabtree (Kingston, WA) as an acknowledgment of his high achievement.

    http://www.sonsoftherevolution.org/PatriotJuly2008.pdf

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