Norwich has maintained a kinship with its cavalry heritage through the years.
The University was first established to train officers for the artillery. It was not until 1909 that cavalry training and horsemanship was first conducted informally by Capt. Leslie A. I. Chapman, a professor of military science and tactics and the first cavalry officer assigned to Norwich by the War Department.
Informal training quickly developed into a cavalry troop. Under Chapman’s successor Capt. Frank Tompkins, cavalry training was instituted as a part of the military training program at Norwich and within the Corps of Cadets. By 1910, training in infantry and the Signal Corps (communications) were also part of the military training program.
The Corps of Cadets remained a cavalry unit from 1911 to 1950. On Sept. 2, 1950, due to the growing size of the Corps, Commandant of Cadets Col. Briard F. Johnson reorganized the Corps into the regular Army regiment. Norwich has remained true to the cavalry traditions, however. This link to the past can be seen in the crossed sabers worn on the Norwich gray and blue uniform tunics. The dress blue uniform that is worn by all Norwich cadets is similar in design to the uniform worn by cavalry officers in 1898.
The Norwich University Regimental Drill Team was established in 1937 under the name of Shock Platoon. The platoon was to be a group of cadets who were “highly efficient in personal appearance and soldierly bearing.” Admission to this crack platoon was on a competitive basis and each member was required to maintain the highest standards. For a short time, the platoon was called Escort Platoon and provided escorts to visiting teams and distinguished guests. Later, Shock Platoon would accompany the University Glee Club and orchestra on tours throughout New England for the benefit of citizens who enjoyed the “snap and color” of a military drill team.
Today, the high standards required of the original Shock Platoon are still maintained by the Norwich University Drill Team, and they continue to perform in parades, ceremonies and special events on campus and through New England. Drill Team members are required to learn numerous precision drill routines and provide support for special teams such as the Honor Guard, Saber Drill Team and Color Guard.
The talent of Drill Team is considered a showpiece of the nation’s oldest private military college. The team is a perennial powerhouse in U.S. college and university drill competitions.
The Regimental Color Guard, one of the duties of Drill Company, is comprised of eight standard bearers who carry the colors of the United States of America, the State of Vermont, the country’s five armed services and Norwich University. Two honor guards accompany the standard bearers.
Gov. Thomas B. Salmon recognized the Regimental Color Guard in 1975 as “The Official Color Guard of the State of Vermont.”
As the oldest collegiate band in the country, the Regimental Band carries on a long tradition of excellence musically, academically and militarily.
Music at Norwich has been a significant part of the curriculum since its founding in 1819. With the arrival of William W. Baylay, the first professor of instrumental music, in 1823, the Regimental Band became an all-brass band and an integral part of the daily life of cadets at Norwich.
Today, the band is a full instrumentation band—woodwinds, brass, and percussion—and it continues to perform in support of the Corps of Cadets at all formations, reviews and special parades. The Regimental Band has performed for the inauguration of several United States presidents, including Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as for parades and concerts throughout Vermont and New England.
Recruits may request assignment to the Regimental Band Company.