From the very beginnings of Tarleton a military style for the male students was maintained. Shown in the photo above are the early John Tarleton College cadets posed in front of the first Tarleton building wearing their uniforms! Military drills were a part of the physical education curriculum.
John Tarleton College became a part of the A & M System in 1917 and automatically became an institution of military training. "John's Army" of sixty eight cadets was organized the first year that Tarleton was a part of A & M. The second year Tarleton became a branch of the SATC (Student Army Training Corps). This program was designed to train officers for service in World War I. Being funded by the federal government and operating as a part of the army, the new organization didn't adhere to the rules and regulations of the college, causing a great deal of dispute over which institution would govern the students. SATC stayed on campus briefly, and after the war steps were taken to bring a permanent ROTC program to campus.
Created by the United States Congress in 1916, ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) had a presence at Tarleton upon becoming a part of A & M in 1917, but officially ROTC didn't arrive until 1921. Every male freshman student was required to join the ROTC, wear uniforms, and receive daily military training. After the first year they had the option of staying in ROTC or be members of the cadet corps. By 1922/23 the cadet corps had 250 cadets in 3 companies. Later in the year 2 more companies were added.
Each Friday was dress parade day. The corps also marched in the State Fair of Texas parade and had a winning rifle team. The ROTC cadets are shown in the second photo above during their daily training. Each year the cadets were reviewed by high-ranking US Army officers and had a competetive drill between the different units.
ROTC has continued to be an important part of Tarleton, producing commissions into the Army at most graduations. As the 1923 Grassburr stated, " we all believe in military training as the basis in the establishment of the best moral, mental, and physical characters of the Tarleton youth."
Chamberlin, Frank. R.O.T.C. at Tarleton, Dick Smith Library. Cross Timbers Historic Images Project.
Dick Smith Library. Cross Timbers Historic Images Project.