History of the Mighty Hawkeye Battalion

Military instruction on the campus of The University of Iowa had its beginnings in the fall of 1861 when University President Oliver M. Spencer called for the establishment of a military department at the University. The first course, however, was not offered until school year 1864-1865. After the close of the Civil War, interest in military training declined and drill was discontinued in 1867. On August 26, 1874, the War Department assigned First Lieutenant Alexander D. Schenck, Second Artillery, as the first Professor of Military Science (PMS) at the University. The Department of Military Science at The University of Iowa has been in continuous existence since that time. With the exception of a few months during the Spanish-American War, there have been active duty Army officers assigned to the department on a full-time basis since Lieutenant Schenck assumed duties as the PMS in 1874.

The Department has made many significant contributions to the University, the State of Iowa, and the nation in the past century, not only in providing qualified military leaders for times of emergency, but also in establishing many traditions which continue to this day. On March 11, 1875, the first University band was formed as a branch of the Iowa Corps of Cadets and on June 17, 1881, the first Governor's Day ceremonies were held. The Military Ball, which has been an annual event on campus for many years, was first held on February 26, 1895. Classes were originally conducted in the Old Capitol and various other buildings in the Pentacrest area until the Armory was constructed across from the current University Library in 1904. In May 1908, the Cadet Battalion went on its first large-scale practice march and maneuvers north of Iowa City near Turkey Creek.

On March 1, 1917, the war in Europe brought about the establishment of an Army ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) detachment at the University of Iowa and the program, which commissions officers in the Active Army and Reserve forces, has continued to this day in similar form. Today, the Department of Military Science exists both as a full academic department in the University College and as a detachment of US Army Cadet Command’s 3rd ROTC Brigade, which is headquartered at Great Lakes Naval Station north of Chicago, Illinois. Annually the program’s enrollment averages approximately 125 students and commissions into the US Army approximately 18 new 2nd Lieutenants.