Marching music at West Point began at about the time of the American Revolution. Companies of Minutemen stationed on Constitution Island, across the Hudson River from West Point, had musicians assigned to carry out signaling and marching duties. At least fifty-five field musicians and a Band of Musick crossed the Hudson River in 1778 with General Parsons' 1st Connecticut Brigade and established West Point as a permanent post. Although many changes have occurred over the years, music continues to be an aspect of daily life for the cadets and soldiers at the Academy.
In General Washington's time, the marching band consisted of fifes and drums. During the Civil War, West Point bandsmen used instruments pointed over their shoulders so that the cadets marching behind them could hear the music and keep in step. At every point in our nation's history, and the Corps of Cadets have marched to the martial aires of the band at West Point.
Today's Marching Band continues the tradition by performing marches that span our military history. The band has marched in inaugural parades for fifteen American presidents. It has trekked along New York's Fifth Avenue numerous times; marched at the Rose Bowl Festival in Pasadena, California and trooped the streets of Tokyo. In 1985, the West Point Band led the veterans of the war in Vietnam across the Brooklyn Bridge and down Broadway, through streams of ticker tape, for their long-overdue homecoming. In recent years, the band has been nationally televised twice, performing the pregame and halftime activities for the Buffalo Bills AFC playoff games.
Whether drawn up in parade formation, providing music at an Army football game, or performing a solemn military funeral, the West Point Marching Band is an impressive sight. Performing before world leaders and top military representatives, the band displays the precision, polish, and professionalism of today's Army.
The West Point Marching Band is made up of select musicians. It remains an integral part of one of the finest institutional traditions in the world today- the United States Military Academy. Its standards of excellence, like those of the Academy, continue to be a source of pride to the Army and to the nation.