The Wildest Christmas Party Ever? – December 24th – TimeGhost of Christmas Past – DAY 1


December 24
You ever been to a Christmas party that gets out of hand because of a little too much booze? Well in 1826, there was the mother of all
Christmas parties gone wrong. This is day one of The TimeGhost of Christmas
Past, I’m Indy Neidell It’s Christmas Eve 1826, at the US Military
Academy at West Point, New York, and several young cadets plan a little Christmas party. Now, consuming alcohol is prohibited at the
Academy, so they are to make do with non-alcoholic eggnog. Okay, but eggnog – made with milk, eggs, and
cream, a winter tradition, needs brandy, bourdon or some other whiskey to be the real deal,
and more in line with what barely twenty year old cadets consider fun, right? It’s only a little bit of booze anyhow and
a few military men in their prime, so what could go wrong? Well, w know almost exactly what went wrong
from the ensuing court cases, in which 167 people testified. So, three cadets, one of them named Samuel
Roberts, take a boat to town December 22nd. The young men bring back a total of two gallons
of whiskey and a gallon of rum – that’s roughly 11 liters of hard liquor. Other preparations like smuggling small portions
of food from the mess hall to their quarters proceed. On December 24th, word spreads of a party
in the North Barracks, and around 10 PM, a few dozen cadets gather to enjoy the snacks
and the copious amounts of spiked eggnog. At 2 AM, a commotion is heard in room number
5, and the Cadet on duty goes to inquire. Eight singing cadets are told to pipe down,
but are allowed to continue. Then at 3 AM, Captain Ethan Allen Hitchcock,
a Lecturer on Military Tactics, hears noise from Room 28, and goes there to find six absolutely
wasted cadets. Furiously, he orders them back to their quarters. But the cadets are not quite so respectful
of authority by this point. As soon as Hitchcock leaves the room, Cadet
William Murdock convinces the others to play a prank on him. They sneak over to his quarters, knock on
his door, and run away and hide before he answers. Then they repeat this. Then again, but the third time, Hitchcock
has had it and goes again through the North Barracks, joined now by Lieutenant William
Thornton. They are soon confronted by dozens of drunk,
rowdy cadets. When Thornton orders several of them to be
arrested, Cadet Roberts punches him in the face, knocking him out. With alcoholic courage, the cadets are now
in a riotous mood. Furniture, windows, and doors break – an inquiry
lists 4,000 dollars worth of damage- in 1826 dollars. Cadets that were not part of the party now
try to organize a force to restore order. But the drunk cadets think that it’s regular
soldiers, so they barricade the barracks. At this point Hitchcock is assaulted, and
even fired upon. At 6:05 AM on Christmas Morning when reveille
sounds, a third of the cadets are still rioting, and regular soldiers from the Second Artillery
now have been called to restore order at gunpoint. In the chaos, some of the drunk cadets simply
show up to roll call barely able to stand, others are arrested, and some just continue
partying out of sight. In any case, the Eggnog Riots are over. The investigation that follows finds that
70 cadets participated, 19 of them and one soldier are tried by court martial, many of
those expelled, but some later granted clemency. Among them are future Confederate President
Jefferson Davis, Confederate General Benjamin G. Humphreys, and US Supreme Court Justice
John Archibald Campbell. The guy who arguably started it all, Sam Roberts,
is expelled and banned for life from serving in the US Army, but will become Secretary
of State for the Republic of Texas in 1841. What a party! So what does your most derailed Christmas
party look like? Let us know in the comments. And if you’re new to us, or you want to
revisit the past, check out or WW2 channel where we cover that conflict in real time
week by week, or the rest of our fabulous history content here on TimeGhost. and with
that I wish you once again: happy holidays, merry Christmas, happy Hanukah, or Kwanza,
or whatever makes you feel that this is the season to be merry! Love to you all and see you tomorrow for another
instalment of the TimeGhost of Christmas Past.

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