University of Minnesota
The Armory is the sixth oldest building on the University of Minnesota campus and was built 1896.

U of M Armory circa 1909

The Armory is the sixth oldest building on the University of Minnesota campus and was built 1896.

Early History of Army ROTC at the University of Minnesota.

The University of Minnesota officially opened as a public institution in 1869. Shortly after, Major General Richard W. Johnson founded the Department of Military Science and Tactics. Military drill was conducted with an emphasis on Infantry and Artillery Tactics, and with an emphasis on Drill and Ceremony. Life as a cadet continued in that fashion until 1888, when the women on campus organized Company Q, in an effort to prove themselves to their male counterparts. After a fire in 1894 that destroyed the hall used for drill, construction began on a new building that would serve as a new drill hall.  The Armory opened its doors in 1896, and it is still in use today.

Army ROTC at the University of Minnesota during the early 1900's.

In May of 1906, the Student Soldier Memorial Monument was unveiled. It was dedicated to the student soldiers of the 13th Minnesota stationed in Manila. Eventually, the collection of donations allowed the students and faculty of the University to strike a nine foot bronze statue that portrays the soldier of 1898. “Iron Mike”, as he is called today, still stands in front of the Armory. Cadet life continued much as it had previously, and they received rewarding instruction in military tactics, customs and courtesies, and drill and ceremonies. In 1916, the Cadet Corps came to an end, and under the Morril Act, was reorganized as ROTC.

Army ROTC at the University of Minnesota during World Wars I and II

In the spring of 1917, the University of Minnesota offered a semesters credit to any who enlisted, and seniors who enlisted would be awarded diplomas. With the outbreak of World War I, one of the Army’s greatest needs was for officers. The University of Minnesota ROTC program helped produce many fine reserve officers. In 1939, when another World War loomed on the horizon, students began to turn to the Military Science department and ROTC for training. In 1942, Army ROTC as it existed was discontinued. What replaced it were various programs such as the Army Specialized Training Program, which trained cadets in the areas of medicine, psychology, as well as language studies in Japanese and German. When the war ended, the ROTC basic course was re-established, and in 1946, the advanced course was also re-established, there by resurrecting the Army ROTC program.

Army ROTC since the 1950s

Cadets of the Army ROTC program have served in every major war and conflict since 1950. The lessons cadets learn have changed with the years, but the dedication of the cadre and cadets have not changed. Today, the rewarding experience offered by Army ROTC plays a great role in the shaping of tomorrows officers and leaders. As one author wrote, “If the program continues to be staffed with officers of this caliber the future of the Military Science Department holds bright prospects indeed.” That still applies in today’s Army ROTC program, and the results speak for themselves.

The information above was compiled from the essay The History of Military Training at the University of Minnesota, written by Gary A. Baratta in 1983.

The Armory

The U of M armory housed not only Military Science, but also the Physical Education Department, until new gyms and Cook Hall were built. The Armory held the first swimming pool on campus, which can still be seen today, though it holds supplies rather than water now. The Armory gym housed Gopher basketball games, and the Gopher football team had its locker rooms here because they played on a field just south of the Armory. Our tradition with the Little Brown Jug began at the armory in 1903, when the Michigan team accidently left it in the Armory locker room after a game. When the Michigan coach asked for it to be returned, the Gophers replied that he'd have to win it back. Now we play Michigan for that jug every year.