Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reinhardt cadet uniform on display in the library

At the library, we see students modeling all kinds of fashions, from the immaculately groomed and stylish to the I-was-up-all-night-and-now-I-just-have-to-print-this-paper-before-class look. It's hard to imagine a time when Reinhardt students dressed in gray cadet uniforms and practiced military drills on campus.

Now, thanks to a donation from the Rainwater family, you can get a glimpse into the life of a Reinhardt student from nearly a century ago. The descendants of Doctor Chandler Rainwater, a 1913 graduate of Reinhardt College, have donated his Reinhardt student uniform to the college. It is on display on the second floor of the library, along with Rainwater's diploma. It's a unique piece of history that brings to light a long-ago phase of Reinhardt tradition.

According to technical services librarian Joel Langford, military companies were first established at Reinhardt in 1893. In 1897, military training was made compulsory for all able-bodied male students except for those preparing for the ministry. The students were encouraged, but not required, to wear the college's uniform of "best Confederate grey with navy blue cap. One of the highlights of spring at Reinhardt was the "sham battles" staged by the companies. The battles took place on a field or in a pasture on a nearby hill. One company would hold a fort on the top of the hill while the other two companies attacked. Blanks, firecrackers and even dynamite were used for realism! (Try to get away with something like that now. On second thought, please don't). Occasionally female students would dress as nurses to aid the wounded.

Starting in 1905, female Reinhardt students were required to wear a uniform of "white waist, blue skirt and Oxford cap [mortarboard with tassel]." In 1908, the cadet uniform was made complusory for male students. Soon after World War I when the United States entered a period of isolationism, the military department was discontinued.

Stop by to check out the display, and think for a moment how your student life would have been different had you attended Reinhardt in the early 20th century instead of the early 21st! It may be hard to imagine, but you and Doctor Chandler Rainwater share something in common. You're both part of the proud tradition of Reinhardt College.

(Wonder what your descendants are going to think of your school attire in the year 2109...)

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