First Day of Classes

On the first day of classes, Spring Semester 1868, students at the Illinois Industrial University, currently named the University of Illinois, were formed into ranks before an instructor. These 75 young men, each of whom had to be at least 15 years of age, reported for roll call to the Military Department. The first campus dress code required all pupils to wear a gray uniform with a blue cap. From this beginning, training in “Military Tactics” was to be an integral part of education at the University of Illinois.

In 1871, the University’s Corps of Cadets was sent to Chicago to assist in maintaining order following the “Great Chicago Fire.” Up until this time, the University had received little popular support or publicity. As the University grew, the Corps of Cadets flourished to become known as the “West Point of the West”.