Benny Havens Oh

Going down to Benny Havens

Going down to Benny Havens

Benny Havens Oh

Benny Havens Oh

Two shirt designs drawn for the West Point Museum were considered but not used, because though the Benny Havens Oh song is a part of cadet tradition, it is not well known outside West Point, and the song is not exactly celebrating the highest virtues and self-discipline of the corps.

Though cadets of the 1800s may have remembered with fondness sneaking out to visit the tavern named for its proprietor, Benny Havens, it was not officially popular with the Army.  Originally the tavern was on what is now West Point grounds, but Benny Havens got kicked off the grounds for selling strong drinks to cadets.  So he set up shop again just off West Point grounds down by the Hudson River, where the cadets could climb down a long staircase to it, or in the winter, skate to it on the river.  The tavern operated there for decades, well-known to many who became famous names of the Civil War.

The most famous non-graduate of West Point is associated with the tavern – Edgar Allan Poe.  Poe didn’t like the Army much and the Army didn’t like him much.  But it is said that he did like Benny Havens.

The song about “reminiscences of Benny Havens, Oh!” was written a couple decades before the Civil War and for a while each graduating class composed a new verse. Benny Havens died in 1877 at the age of 90, and the original tavern no longer exists, but there is a bar near West Point with the same name.

The history of Benny Havens can be found at the West Point Museum, and several other designs by Historyonashirt are sold there.

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