"Charles Adelle Lewis Totten as pictured in 1873."
Photo courtesy of the USMA Special Collections & Archives.

Charles Adelle Lewis Totten

Charles Adelle Lewis Totten was an "Army brat" long before the term was popularized. Born on February 3rd, 1851, in New London, CT, Totten was the son of Brevet Brigadier-General James Totten, a 1841 graduate of the United States Military Academy at Westpoint, his father having served meritoriously in several capacities for the United States Army during the Civil War. Charles' Uncle, Joseph Gilbert Totten, also graduated from Westpoint, having received his commission in 1805 and after whom Ft. Totten, NY was named.

Archival materials suggest a man of great intellectual curiosity and passion, yet someone who remained decidedly an independent free-thinker, stemming perhaps from both his early exposure to a more regimented family life, as well as an early education in the country school of New London under what have been described as "old-fashioned school masters."

Totten was a lineal descendent of Mr. Elder Brewster, of the Mayflower company and of Mr. Gurdon Saltonstall, Colonial Governor of Connecticut. A graduate of Trinity College in 1869, Totten like his father received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. There he earned the distinction of being an "honor man," being one of the top ten cadets in his class.

Preceding and following his tenure as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Massachusetts Agricultural College, Totten assumed any number of Army postings including an assignment with the Missouri Artillery, having also served briefly as an instructor back through the Academy at Westpoint. His final years of military service were served in the position of Professor of Military Tactics at Yale University. His lectures there (published in 1890) were reported to be of great shcolarly interest, Totten speaking on national and international subjects including the "Military Economy and the Policy of America," to "Organization, Dis-organization, Re-organization, and Mobilization."

Totten eventually resigned his commission in the U.S. Army in 1892, but remained a prolific writer, endeavoring to write more philosophical volumes devoted to Biblical investigations. Some even suggested a leaning towards the occult and symbolical, Totten having researched the Cabala and ancient astrology which he thought to use in providing a clearer understanding of the Old Testament prophets. He worked in writing, publishing, and distributing the "Our Race Series," a now controversial series of twenty-six volumes (365 pages each) suggesting how the "lost tribes" of Israel could be traced to the Anglo-Saxons. In fact, Totten is credited with having published some thirty volumes (including the "Our Race Series,") and some 150 minor studies. Totten also wrote, "Our Inheritance In The Great Seal," an investigation of the history of the great seal of the United States. Totten was also enterprising enough to also patent a system of weights and measures in 1884.

"Professor Totten: Seen here in his later years"
Photo courtesy of the USMA Special Collections & Archives.

C.A.L. Totten died in Milford, CT. on April 12, 1908. He married twice, by which he had five children. Included among them was Cadet Dennis Bunker Totten, who was tragically found dead on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy (where he was a student) of a gun-shot wound, one that was believed to have been self-inflicted. Of his grandchildren, one - James Willoughby Totten, was a 1935 Westpoint graduate, and like his grandfather and great-grandfather, was an Artillery officer of much respect and distinction, his highest ranking being Major General in July 1964. Another grandson, William Pierce Ennis Jr., Westpoint Class of 1926, Commanded the 10th Corps Artillery in the Korean War, and eventually served as Commandant of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

A copy of the 39th Annual Reunion of the Association Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy provides the following character sketch of Totten (courtesy of the Bridgeport Connecticut Telegram, April 13, 1908):

"Charles Totten had a wonderful brain and mind, one that is not often found in a century. He had wonderful creative talent, combined with a mind never at rest, always trying to fathom the unsearchable riches of biblical questions, never weary of trying to solve, according to his light and understanding, the problem of the ages, and making prophecies, founding each one on biblical facts and statements…

His soul and spirit were in his work, and with unwearing energy he continued it until the great strength of mind and body gave out.

Mr. Totten will be much missed in the literary world, for his brain and mind were sufficiently great to grasp the minute things of life, as well as the large ones…"

Totten's Legacy: UMass Fencing from 1875 to the Present

1875 - 1879

On March 11, 1875, First Lieutenant C. A.L. Totten, Fourth Artillery, U.S. Army, assumed command of the Massachusetts Agricultural College Battalion, and was installed as the school's third Professor of Military Science and Tactics. In relieving his predecessor - First Lieut. A.H. Merrill, Totten strove to develop the active military component of the College curriculum, an integral part of student life since the College's founding in 1863. Lieut. Totten came to the Pioneer Valley after graduating from the United States Military Academy at Westpoint. He received his commission in spring of 1873, following in the footsteps of his father James who also graduated from the USMA, having received his commission in 1841.

Lieut. Totten was a dynamic and progressive member of the College community. He immediately secured new uniforms from West Point for his battalion of cadets, drilled them to higher standards of tactical proficiency, even parading them before the Governor. He also lobbied for a substantial increase in aid for the department: additional funding and resources to be directed to areas as military signaling, target practice, new instructional texts...even the development of a fire brigade.

But in addition to the regimented course structure and attention to discipline, he also encouraged his students to, "pursue any special military study," or "to go deeper into any subject than the limited course will allow." Taking advantage of this, Lieut . Totten offered such incentive by forming a fencing class as an elective option in the winter term of 1875. He felt it just reward for the students efforts, and for the duration of his four-year posting on campus, many students voluntarily took up the sport.


The work of Lieut. Totten continued on in many respects for the next twenty years, as the Military Department at Mass Aggie continued to develop and grow. An increase in funding and support from the administration saw the construction of a Drill Hall and Armory, acquisition of additional equipment for training, and a more developed organizational structure as students (seniors) assumed the role of cadet instructors.

Little is know if those officers who immediately followed Totten engaged in any formal fencing instruction, however, the "Manual of Arms & Sword" and "Lippitt's Tactical Use of the Three Arms" were required reading for all cadets. Tactics and use of the sabre (military version) were also a mandatory aspect of military drill.


Following a two-year hiatus where military instruction was suspended due to the lack of any available officers, First Lieut. W.M. Mason, 2nd U.S. Infantry, was named as Commandant, and in 1905, was relieved of his post by Captain George Chipman Martin, C.E., 18th U.S. Infantry. Capt. Martin, who resided in Amherst House on campus, was second only to Lieut. Totten in terms of fencings' development on campus.

Capt. Martin continued in the tradition of his predecessors in continuing to expand the scope of military training at Mass Aggie. He witnessed an appreciable increase in the enrollment of students, while also working to cultivate a relationship with the newly formed Department of Physical Education & Hygiene, overseen and run at the time by Professor Curry S. Hicks.

While the winter of 1913 saw Mass Aggie exposed to an outbreak of Scarlet Fever on campus, not one year later fencing was formally "re-introduced" by Capt. Martin with the help of Prof. Richard Francis Nelligan.

"Prof. Richard Francis Nelligan - instrumental figure in the development of fencing on campus in the early 1900's."
Photo courtesy of Amherst College Archives.

Nelligan was actually a member of the faculty at Amherst College for some 36 years where he taught fencing in addition to more traditional sports, having also served as Athletic Director for Camp Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts. He had hoped to form a club at UMass for some time after having done the same at Amherst, yet was unable to secure the services of a qualified instructor. However, this his and those effort of Capt. Martin, one was eventually found in Mr. F.H. Andraud.

At the time Prof. Andraud was affiliated with the Springfield (MA) Y.M.C.A. College, where he served as a physical education tutor from 1915 - 1917. There he taught fencing along with Mr. Elmer Berry, and served as coach of Springfield's team which competed against the likes of Harvard University & other regional opponents.

Andraud received his formal fencing training from the French Military Academy at Joinville-le-Point, France.

Suffice it to say Andraud's credentials were impressive. Before arriving in the Pioneer Valley, it is thought he coached in some capacity for Cornell University, while also thought to have served as instructor for at least one member of the 1912 U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Stockholm, Sweden.

"F.H. Andraud, understood to be the first coach of UMass Fencing (pictured: first row, far right)"
Photo courtesy of Springfield College Special Collections & Archives.

During his tenure at Springfield, there existed a cooperative program (a rural economics program) with M.A.C. which might possibly have allowed students from Mass Aggie the use of their facilities, including instruction offered in the "fencing room" at Springfield armory. This is the same Springfield "Armory" where Salle d'Armes Springfield was located, a former fencing club and facilty where numerous UMass fencers trained at points over the last fifteen years.

With an instructor finally in place, Capt. Martin introduced a fencing club that met on Thursday afternoons in the Social Union Room, some 52 men initially taking instruction from Prof. Andraud while also receiving class credit from the Physical Education Department. Dues or "taxes" as they were referred to then, were two dollars a month, with lessons available for twenty-five cents. The Massachusetts Collegian speculated that an instructor of Andraud's stature would easily have command a fee anywhere from three to five dollars per lesson. In 1917, records suggest a student by the name of Thayer '17, took over the organizational aspects of the club.


Campus activities were scaled back in the period following the conclusion of Word War I as the Military Department (and consequently fencing activities) became less popular on campus. Intercollegiate sports programs had been suspended, while associated facilities were neglected as well. However, starting in the late 1920's, significant and renewed attention was paid to the development of better athletic facilities on campus, including substantial sums set aside to develop both men's and women's gymnasiums. Through the hard work of the Physical Education department, existing facilities were improved, more intercollegiate teams were created, and the number of athletic course offerings were increased.

At least one section of a student handbook from the time claims that, "it is a reality on this campus that there is a 'team for every man'." Unfortunately, fencing was not one of them. However, Pentathlon was offered as part of the intercollegiate track program in 1929 and 1930, and it's thought that fencing would have been part of any such offering of that sport.


M.A.C., since renamed Massachusetts State College in 1931, brought about changes in the Physical Education program that saw fencing return as an instructional course offering from 1938 - 1942. The student handbook indicated that, "instruction in boxing, wrestling, fencing, & lacrosse" were provided for, and occasionally, "informal matches" were arranged.

In 1949, fencing took a larger organizational step on campus when the club was formally recognized as a registered student organization although the group had been active on campus since at least 1947. Thirty registered members of the team practiced in the Stockbridge Team Room of the Curry Hicks Physical Education Building on Tuesday nights. According to a Massachusetts Collegian article from the period , the club was actively involved in recruitment of members, fund-raising, while working with the hope of becoming a varsity sport on campus. The Spring semester saw the club organizing informal matches with area colleges and clubs with much of their equipment supplied via Fort Devens.

"Members of the Fencing Club shown practicing likely in the Stockbridge Team Room in Fall of 1949."
Photo courtesy of UMass Special Collections & Archives.

During this time efforts were also made to establish a women's fencing club, with additional work done to make fencing a regular part of the physical education program for women. There was hope that Ms. Ruth Ann Totman of the Women's Physical Education Department would include fencing as a class provided there was enough interest. Club officers from this period included Ernest J. Mandeville '52, President; J. Harvey Atkins '50, Vice President; Phil Powers, Manager; Al Buck, Master-at-Arms, and Bill Conway, saber instructor. The female officers were Carolyn P. Reid '53, President; Barbara J. Summers '53, Secretary; and Nancy Gilly, Treasurer.

1950 - 1995

Fencing on the (re-christened) University of Massachusetts - Amherst campus grew along with the development and further expansion of the school, especially in the early to mid 1970's. During this period, fencers such as Arthur Stacey '73, Aan Chin '74, and former UMass Head Coach Bernard Desautels '73, helped bring a higher level of organization and competitive focus not having been extensively explored. Since this time, the team and club has effectively been a permanent fixture on campus as a competitive organization.

This organizational continuity carried over into the 1980's, as the now legendary "Mass Disasters" (name due in part to the seemingly endless number of things that went wrong in terms of equipment breakdowns, making it to meets, etc.) emerged as ambitious challengers to the more established, regional collegiate programs of the time, including good showings against a strong Harvard University team that UMass faced in the 1986 season. Team members such as Sharon Kaliouby '87, Andrew Prochniak '84, and former UMass Coach and "fencing zen" master Jim Carter '86, helped the team gain credibility, achieving greater respect amogst their peers in the New England region. It was also during this period that UMass first entered the Massachusetts Amateur Sports Foundation (MASF) Bay State Games, having sent team representatives to the competition every year since the Games' founding in 1985.

But it has been over the last twelve years where UMass Fencing has seen it's greatest success and most ambitious growth.

The early 1990's saw the team beging to emerge as one of the top programs (club or varsity) in New England. A strong Men's Epee squad consisting of Edward Roaf II '93, James Butrymn '95, and women's foil squad of Melissa Santala '93, Kelly (Rudick) Cooper '93, and Men’s Saberist Craig Andrews ’92 helped carry the UMass team to strong performances just short of winning the New England Championships on several occasions in the early 1990's. In spring of 1992 a team of Jason Trunnel, Pete Lawson, and James Butrymn finished 2nd at the Blue Jay Invitational (men's alternate nationals,) beating teams from such nationally recognized programs as Penn State and Princeton. These members of the men’s team and others went undefeated in winning the inaugural Northeast Fencing Conference Championships in 1992-1993 (recording a dual meet season record of 17-1,) while the women finishing second in the women's NFC's that same season.

"Members of the UMass Fencing Team pose after the 1993 "Big One" at Hampshire College."
Photo courtesy of Evan Whitney '95.

It was also during this period where UMass sent it's first teams to the United States Fencing Association (USFA) Summer National Championships, having fielded over seven different weapons teams since 1990, while over thirty different UMass fencers have qualified and competed as individuals since then. Members of the club have also competed in local and North America Cup (NAC) USFA events, as well as international invitational competitions - competing against top fencers representing Cleveland State, Rochester Fencing Club, and traditional regional rivals such as Brown.

1995 - Present

UMass Fencing has continued to evolve since the clubs’ success in the early-1990’s, attaining new goals an accomplishments while overcoming adversities such as coaching moves, training space limititations, and graduation-influenced roster changes. They’ve done so while continuing to cultivate "home grown" talent in an effort to remain not only a viable student organization on campus, but also a competative club. To that end, UMass Fencing has worked to maintain consistency while achieving new competitive goals in continuing the legacy of the sport on campus.

The UMass Team now participates in several different leagues including: The Northeast Fencing Conference (NFC), the New England Collegiate Club Fencing League (NECCFL), the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference (NEIFC), and the New England Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association (NEIWFA).

Competition has expanded to include new opposition such as Sacred Heart, Stevens Tech, Drew University, Yeshiva, Hunter College, Johns Hopkins, Marist, Vassar, Univ. of Vermont, Bard, CCNY, and the University of Florida.

UMass fencers are also travelling further than ever to compete with destinations outside New England including New Jersey (Farleigh Dickinson University,) Virginia (Virginia Tech.,) and Florida (Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando.) in recent years.

But it was in Gainesville, FLA where the UMass Fencing Team has experienced its greatest "road trip."

On April 5th and 6th UMass sent a six-weapon team to compete in the first annual National Collegiate Club Fencing Championships. The Championships are the top intercollegiate competition for non-varsity (NCAA) teams.

Participating schools included theUniversity of Michigan, University of Texas, University of Maryland, Michigan State University, Texas A & M University, University of Massachusetts, Purdue University
University of South Carolina, University of New Hampshire, University of Wisconsin, Clemson University, United States Military Academy, Northwestern University, Virginia Tech University, Smith College, University of Florida, University of Virginia, and Wesleyan College.

UMass fencers were dominant.

"UMass Fencing: Best Overall 6-Weapon Team - 2003 National Collegiate Club Fencing Championships."
Photo courtesy of UMass Fencing.

The Men’s Team emerged as 2003 National Co-Champions finishing tied with Northwestern with 95 victories (in 123 bouts,) while the Women’s Team finished as National Runners-up only 2 victories behind host Florida, earning 69 victories (in 105 bouts.) By virtue of these results (a combined 164 victories,) UMass emerged as the Top Overall 6-Weapon Team at the National Championships. In addition, UMass Fencing produced a National Champion Men's Foil Squad, National Champion Women's Epee Squad, National Runners-up Men's Epee Squad, National Runnesr-up Men's Sabre Squad, and 12 individual finalists.

Such results were preceded by a strong dual-meet season that saw the UMass Fencing Team also garner "top club" honors for both the Men and Women at the 2003 New England Fencing Championships, while also having also beat a number of squads and teams from varisty (NCAA) competition over the course of the 2002-2003 season.

"Former UMass Asst. Coach Taro Yamashita poses with the 2003 National Champion Women's Epee Squad (l-r): Karla Hubschwerlin '03, Jessica Yu '04, and Cathie Arcisz '03."
Photo courtesy of UMass Fencing.

Such collective team strides have also been paralleled by those of individual members of the coaching staff and alumni association.

Brad Baker, the current UMass Head Coach, earned what is believed to be UMass's first-ever medal at the USFA Summer National Championships, earning Silver in Div I-A Men's Sabre (Sacramento, CA, 2001.) Brad who competes in local, regional, and national events in senior men's epee and sabre, has also competed in recent FIE World Cup Senior Men's Sabre events.

Taro Yamashita, recent UMass Assistant Coach and Board Member for Friends of UMass Fencing has been ranked as high as 33rd nationally and 302 internationall in Senior Men's Epee. Taro's also earned invaluable overseas experience by competing in Senior "A" FIE World Cup events in Montreal (March 1999, 2000, and 2001) and a "B" World Cup in Recklinghausen, Germany (January, 2002.)

Julian Tyson, current Faculty Advisor to UMass Fencing, has been nationally ranked as high as 1st in Veteran Men's Épée, and is currently ranked in the top-ten in Veteran Combined Men's Épée, Veteran Combined Men's Foil, Veteran-50 Men's Épée, and Veteran-50 Men's Foil. Julian was also a member of the U.S. National Team competing at the 2002 F.I.E. World Veteran's Fencing Championships in Men's Epee.

In addition to such accomplishments on the strip, UMass Fencing has continued to make strides off it.

Club and Team exposure has enjoyed a noticable increase in recent years, including feature articles in The Daily Hampshire Gazette, The UMass Daily Collegian, UMass Magazine, and The Campus Chronicle. The team’s exploits have also earned them prime space on the front page of UMass.edu, the University’s official website, as well as indirect, grassroots exposure through the efforts of those fencers serving as bout directors in any number of regional competition. The team newsletter In Touchhas meanwhile increased its circulation and its frequency of publication.

Alumni organization and outreach has also grown more organized in recent years, with Friends of UMass Fencing (FUMF) being officially formed on February 6, 1998 - current group membership being well over one hundred. The organization has been instrumental in helping support the team financially through buying new equipment and funding entries to important events, while also expanding outreach activities through activities such as the Columbus Day Alumni vs. Varsity Meet & Picnic, the Team’s spring awards banquet, and the new "SummerFence" casual tournament.

As the 21st century is just beginning, the club is working to remain a vibrant and recognizable member of the University's' athletic community, even while at present, the sport remains unrecognized as a varsity sport. Hopefully with the work of Friends of UMass Fencing along with the drive and sacrifice of the UMass Team, the sport will remain a fixture on campus for another 100 years.

Copyright 2008 UMass Fencing