Identified to 2nd Lt. Clarence Edward Lang, USMA Class of 1890.
This is a late Indian Wars artillery officer’s dress coat, worn by 2nd Lieutenant Clarence Edward Lang.
The pattern was adopted in the 1881, mainly dropping the vertical bullion cuff embellishments from the ’72 regs. Lt. Lang’s name is written on the maker label on the underside of the collar. Note the maker reversed Lang’s first two initials. Another maker’s label for The Warnock Co., NY, is sewn on the back of collar.
At some point this coat became the property of the Minneapolis Costume Co., and is stamped on the inside sleeve lining. They repositioned the buttons to accommodate another wearer; but now has been restored to its original state. The artillery “A” buttons are most probably the original to the coat; the cuff buttons are untouched. There was some restoration performed in repairing a few tears in the waist area, that would be hidden by a belt. The shoulder mounts for the dress knots are reproductions.
And now for the unsavory details regarding Lieutenant Lang.
Lang graduated from USMA in 1894 (Class of 1890), and began his career with the 2nd U.S. Artillery, having previously admitted to the Naval Academy for two year prior to his acceptance to the USMA, the reason for his dismissal being a case of hazing an underclassman.
The military has always adhered to the strict rule governing the separation of commissioned officers and the enlisted ranks, yet even before his graduation from West Point, Cadet Lang along with another fellow classmate by the name of Butler, each began relations with the daughter of the Post Commissary Sergeant.
Butler, a cadet from Texas, and Lang had become good friends, and one day in November of 1893, Butler took Lang to meet his fiance Miss Mamie Kunkel, the said sergeant’s daughter, was thought to be the prettiest girl at the post. Unknown to Lang the the sapphire ring that sparkled on her finger was a symbol of the betrothal of one cadet Butler, who had maintained his secret affair from any other cadet. Not knowing, Lang fell in love with the girl, and throwing away the traditions and social laws of the army, commenced in wowing Miss Kunkel.
In January Miss Kunkel went to Butler and and asked to be released from her engagement. Two days later the sapphire was replaced with a diamond, and at that point West Point at large would begin to know of Lang’s plan to marry the daughter of the ranks. The scorned Butler, maintaining secrecy began his new involvement and engagement with Mamie’s good friend Miss Kittle Seagel, the daughter of a mason from nearby Highland Falls, N.Y.; a friend of Kitty’s that lived a few houses away.
As such affairs don’t stay silent for long, the entire post learned, not only of the engagement, but Butler’s having married Kitty before graduation. Such an event was almost unprecedented in the history of the Academy, for it meant immediate dismissal of Butler. Some said the young handsome Texan had married her out of resentment for the failed engagement and loss of Mamie Kunkel. Others said she was handsome enough of a young woman to cause any fellow to leave the army. Butler got his discharge papers and settled in the home of his new father-in-law.
On graduation day in 1894, Lang received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant. Already viewed as a pariah by his fellow cadets for his lack of military custom, Lang and Mamie proceeded to Highland Falls and took the ferry across the Hudson River and were married, thence returning an hour later with his new bride.
Having taken a six month furlough after graduation, the young husband was sent to Fort Warren, Boston Harbor. His health being feeble, soon after obtained another furlough on account of illness, and found a home in Glenham, NY a small town near Fishkill (not far from West Point, to the northeast). Unfortunately unknown to the Langs, their home was just 5 miles from where Butler and his wife resided.
From here the story becomes a “Peyton’s Place” and your wildest imaginations would not be far off, as this saga continues, involving all and more of the players having thus been mentioned.
Once Lang his compelled to return to duty, he reports himself to Fort Warren once again. All the while, the Secretary of War, having become very familiar to the distastefulness, has devised a plan to hopefully prompt Lt. Lang into resigning his commission. The plan now is to release Sgt. Kunkel from San Antonio, Texas (sent there after the engagement of his daughter took place at West Point), and order him to report for duty at the very post his daughter and son-in-law are stationed; this all done in hopes that the discomfort will drive Lang to submit his resignation.
The order sending Lang at the same post placed all in a very precarious predicament. The army’s unwritten law barred any social intercourse between the ranks. It would also mean that Mrs Lang could not visit her parents. This was the most effectual method to force the Lieutenant’s resignation. And on it continues.
I have transcripts that go into greater detail concerning his ordeal. Sounds like an historical-Hallmark Channel production waiting to happen.
A neat uniform with a torrid history
USPS Priority $20.00