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Vaulx Carter

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Vaulx Carter
Vaulx Carter.png
Carter from the official 1882 Navy football team portrait
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born August 14, 1863[Note 1]
Davidson County, Tennessee
Died Before 1930
Playing career
1882 Navy
Position(s) Rusher
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1882 Navy
Head coaching record
Overall 1–0

Vaulx Carter (August 14, 1863 – before 1930) was an American college football player and engineer who is best remembered as the first coach of the Navy Midshipmen football program. He was born in Tennessee and raised there for part of his childhood, until he was orphaned and adopted by family members in Pennsylvania. Starting in 1880, Carter attended the United States Naval Academy; he struggled academically at the school, only excelling in his art classes. Carter failed his final examinations in his final two years at the academy and was recommended for removal following the second failure. This did not happen, as he was forced to voluntarily resign from the school in 1883 due to permanent injuries received from an accident.

Carter's time at the Naval Academy was not without success; in his second year, he singlehandedly managed to restart the school's football program after a two-year hiatus. Carter guided his team as a player-coach for the season, leading them to a victory over students from Johns Hopkins University, the first win in school history.

Information about Carter following his resignation from the academy is scarce. One Navy football historian described him as having "disappeared from the historical record".[1] He attended some classes at Swarthmore College in 1883, but he did not complete a course. During the late 1880s, Carter was an instructor at the Hebrew Technical Institute and also worked as an engineer; he designed a parachute and a model of a plan for the Nicaragua Canal, both of which attracted media attention. During the 1890s, he was an assignee for several corporations in New York City. Carter served as a lieutenant in the New York State Militia from 1902 to 1910. Later, during the 1920s, he lived with his sister on a farm in New York, occasionally writing articles for a magazine she edited. According to census records, Carter died by at least 1930.

Biography and career[edit]

At the United States Naval Academy[edit]

Vaulx Carter was born in August 14, 1863,[Note 1] in western Tennessee, the sixteenth of seventeen children to Samuel Jefferson Carter. His mother was Anne Vaulx, the elder Carter's second wife.[3] He was raised there for the early part of his life, but was orphaned along with two of his siblings following his father's death in March 1873 and his mother's the next year. The siblings remained without a guardian until February 1875, when they were adopted by a family member and spent the rest of their childhood in Pennsylvania.[3][5] In September 1880, Carter passed the entrance examinations for the United States Naval Academy and on the twenty-second of that month, he was admitted into the school, one of four people selected to represent Pennsylvania at the academy in that year's class.[6][4] In his second year at the school, Carter excelled in English and drawing, but had poor discipline and received 109 demerits; using a point evaluation system, the Naval Academy gave Carter fifty-three out of a possible seventy-six points for his conduct during the year.[7] Between his second and third years, Cater sailed on the U.S.S. Constitution as a part of the Academy's summer cruise.[8] His conduct worsened that year, and he only excelled in drawing. At the end of the year, Carter received ninety-nine of a possible one-hundred fifty-two points.[9]

1882 football season[edit]

A scan of a newspaper article headline reading: "A Rousing Foot-Ball Game: The Clifton Club Gave the Naval Academy Team a Hard Struggle"
The headline from The Sun's article about the game against the Clifton Athletic Club

In 1879, football began as a sport at the Academy. Student William John Maxwell organized a team made up of fellow students, without any support of faculty. He organized a game with the Baltimore Athletic Club, which ended in a scoreless tie.[10][11] Maxwell graduated in 1880, and the football program ended in his absence. In 1882, Carter re-initiated and organized a new football team. He took a position as the team coach, the first in school history; he also functioned as a back when playing.[12] He scheduled a single game for the season, which was played on Thanksgiving Day against the Baltimore-based Clifton Football Club. The Clifton team was made up of players from Johns Hopkins University, who were unable to play for their school due to the administrator's negative views towards the sport.[11][13] Carter designed a maroon and white uniform for the squad and a strip of leather which was nailed to the bottom of their shoes to prevent slipping.[14]

It snowed heavily before the game, to the point where players for both teams had to clear layers of snow off of the field, making large piles of snow along the sides of the playing ground.The first half of the game went scoreless; the Baltimore American reported that "the visitors pushed Navy every place but over the goal line in the first half".[14] During play, the ball was kicked over the seawall a number of times, once going so far out it had to be retrieved by boat before play could continue.[14][15] The American described the second half in detail:[15]

After ten minutes interval the ball was again put in play, this time being kicked off by the Cliftons. The rest period had apparently stiffened the Cliftons, for the Academy making a vigorous spurt got the ball thru them, and Street, following it up well, scored a touchdown for the Academy.[14]
The try at goal failed, but the ball, instead of going to the Cliftons behind the line, fell into the field and into the hands of one of the Academy team. By a quick decisive run, he again got the ball over the Cliftons goal line and scored a touchdown.[16]

The Naval Academy won the contest 8-0, which made it the Academy's first ever football victory, and was the first match in which they recorded points.[17] It would remain the school's only victory until the 1884 season, and would remain as the last shutout for the school until 1886, when a squad defeated Johns Hopkins 6-0.[18] Carter's single win gives him the second fewest in Navy football history, behind interim coach Rick Lantz. However, his undefeated record and perfect win percentage remain the highest ever for the academy.[19]

After the Naval Academy[edit]

Carter was scheduled to graduate from the Naval Academy in 1884, but was forced to resign in 1883.[20] While performing his duties as a naval cadet, Carter became caught in a gale and fell. He received permanent injuries from the accident, which caused his resignation on June 14, 1883.[21][22] Carter entered the United States navy as an officer the same year. He served from then until September 25, 1886, when he officially resigned from the Navy. Sometime between 1890 and 1893, Carter was hired as the treasurer and assignee for the Cowles Engineering Company. The organization was created in 1890 under official laws of the state of New Jersey, under the leadership of William Cowles. It served branches of the U.S. Government and the city of New York.[23] The company went into bankruptcy and failed three years later, owing its creditors over $30,000 (equivalent to $817,100 respectively in 2018[24]).[25] The year of Carter's death is unknown.

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffsteam
Navy Midshipmen (Independent) (1882)
1882 Navy 1–0
Navy: 1–0
Total: 1–0



  1. ^ a b Sources disagree on Carter's birth date. Family records, including a genealogy compiled by his brother William Harding Carter, list the date as August 14, 1861.[2] However, the American Genealogy Research Institute's History of the Carter Family records Carter's birth being two years later, on August 14, 1863.[3] This date is supported by government records like those from the United States Naval Academy's Annual Register, which states that Carter was 17 years and one month old at his date of admittance, September 22, 1880, which would place his date of birth in July or August of 1863.[4]



Books and reports
Newspaper and journal articles

External links[edit]