The Cadet Band

Picture:  Summer camp, band

The Cadet Band is Formed

In 1876 the University of Nebraska began a small military department at the request of the War Department.  The program was plagued by a lack of discipline and funding from the beginning.  Drill practice was optional, as were uniforms, and the Cadets' enthusiasm for attending the non-compulsory drill was understandably low.  In 1879 Lt. Isaac T. Webster sought to create more excitement for the otherwise doldrum military drill with the creation of the University's first band.  Twelve volunteers with no musical background volunteered and the University of Nebraska Military Cadet Band was created (1).

Very soon the Cadet Band found its services being requested by clubs, political rallies, funerals, and baseball games.  By 1883 it became clear that the popular, though rather unmusical, group would need more musical direction and D. F. Easterday was hired as a director for the fledging band.  He would serve in that capacity until 1898 (1).

Much of the band's time in the early years was occupied by military pursuits.  Drill practice and parades were required of the band, but outside of classes they played at athletic events and local gatherings, often gaining individual compensation for their pains.

After Easterday, the band was directed by several people including Earle Wehn, Mortimer Wilson, August Hagenow, and Claire Brown Cornell (1).  During these years the band membership grew drastically and began to take on a much more central part in university affairs.  The Cadet band went on away trips, played at football halftimes, and put on free concerts.

Though the functions at which it performed were quite diverse, it was clear during its early years that the Cadet band belonged within the military department.  But when the Band was retitled as the R.O.T.C. band, the band's wide circle of activities continued expanding and the military department began weighing the personal benefits of the band for their program against its high financial costs.