Carlisle Military School

Carlisle Military School was established in 1892 at Bamberg, South Carolina, as The Carlisle Fitting School of Wofford College and closed in 1977. This school was named in honor of Dr. James H. Carlisle, who was the president of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina (1875–1902) and one of the most preeminent educators in the history of South Carolina.[1][2] Dr. Carlisle stated that "The student ought to be educated not simply or chiefly because he intends to become a farmer, lawyer, or statesman, but because he is a human being - with inlets of joy, with possibilities of effort and action that no trade or calling can satisfy or exhaust".[3]

Carlisle Military School
Carlisle Military School.jpg
"Develops Manly Men"
Coordinates33°17′38″N 81°01′54″W / 33.29389°N 81.03167°W / 33.29389; -81.03167Coordinates: 33°17′38″N 81°01′54″W / 33.29389°N 81.03167°W / 33.29389; -81.03167
Color(s)Gold and black
NicknameGolden Cyclones
NewspaperThe Bugle
YearbookRebel (prior to 1928 "The Palmetto")


Carlisle Fitting SchoolEdit

The Carlisle Fitting School was authorized by the South Carolina Methodist Conference in 1892 as a preparatory school for Wofford College. While the decision to open a second fitting school for Wofford (The Wofford Fitting School was opened in 1887 on the Wofford campus) was strongly promoted by Wofford's financial administrator John Carlisle Kilgo (who also laid the cornerstone of Carlisle's first building),[4] Carlisle was largely a town of Bamberg enterprise and gifts for its financial support were largely local. This was probably a chief reason why Carlisle enrolled girls as well as boys during this time. As an added benefit, the Carlisle Fitting School also prepared students for entrance into Wofford’s sophomore class. But Carlisle was unfortunate in that its leadership changed so often – out of nine headmasters during its nearly forty years under the Methodist Church and Wofford College trustees, only John C. Guilds (for whom a building on the Carlisle campus was named, and who later became President of Columbia College (South Carolina)) served as headmaster longer than five years. Guilds had gone to Carlisle as a teacher after his graduation from Wofford in 1906, and he was elected headmaster in 1910. The Guilds' administration was a most successful one, as he had taken over the administration of a school which was at the point of failure with only 3 teachers and 60 students. Under his eleven years as headmaster, he left Carlisle with 10 teachers and 225 students. Also during his administration, and largely due to World War I, a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program was formally established - setting the stage for what the future would hold for Carlisle.

Dr. John Caldwell Guilds (1886–1965), early influential headmaster of Carlisle School (1910–1920)

However, in the next eight years there were three more headmasters: Duncan, Hagood, and Gault. And in 1928, as the need for fitting schools had passed (the Wofford Fitting School was closed in 1924), the Methodist Church decided that Carlisle would no longer be affiliated with Wofford College.[5][6]

Carlisle School transition to Carlisle Military SchoolEdit

Along with this major shift in direction in 1928, Colonel James F. Risher (who had arrived at Carlisle in 1924, serving as a science teacher and quartermaster) was elected as headmaster. Colonel Risher would prove to be the right man at the right time in Carlisle's history. It was indeed a testament to Colonel Risher's (as well as his wife Emma's) faith in Carlisle that – even as the "Great Depression" was deepening – he leased Carlisle from the Methodist Church in 1932. Then in 1938, as the Methodist Church was considering to close Carlisle entirely, Colonel Risher - again taking a "leap of faith" – offered to purchase Carlisle from the Methodist Church, even while the entire nation was still in the grips of the Great Depression. The future of Carlisle was secured when Colonel Risher's offer was accepted, and Carlisle School was thereafter known as Carlisle Military School. Colonel Risher established his vision of "developing manly men" serving as headmaster of Carlisle until 1958, when his son (William R.) was named as his successor. Another major event occurred in 1958 when Colonel Risher purchased Camden Academy (Camden, S.C.), naming another son, (Lanning P.), as the headmaster of what would henceforth be known as Camden Military Academy. Colonel Risher carried his "life's calling" forward as president of both institutions until his death in 1973.[7]

Colonel James Franklin Risher (1889-1973), Headmaster of Carlisle Military School, and later, President of Carlisle Military School and Camden Military Academy


In addition to the loss of Colonel Risher as its central guiding force for nearly half a century, Carlisle faced the effect of a dwindling enrollment in the post-Vietnam era of the 1970s and closed its doors at the end of the 1977 school year.[8][9] Since 1979 the property has been used as a U.S. Department of Labor Job Corps Training Center, continuing its relevance as an educational institution in the Bamberg community and beyond.[10]


However, the history of Carlisle did not die with its closure, because all the cadets who ever walked through her doors, as well as those from Camden Military Academy, carry with them the lasting heritage, and eternal values, this institution endowed on them. From its foundation built upon the legacy of its namesake, James Henry Carlisle - who once replied to a group of Wofford students presenting him a gift on his birthday, that they simply remember him with the epitaph "He aways meant to do me good".[11] Through John Caldwell Guilds, who brought Carlisle back from the brink of closure and once succinctly stated his view that Carlisle "has always been run for the good it can do and never as a money-making enterprise".[12] And lastly, the "Old Colonel" who saw his life intertwined with Carlisle as a "calling", not unlike that of a minister. On the grave marker for James Franklin Risher are written the sublime words that very likely describes the vision he had in mind for all his Carlisle boys to aspire to: "Here Lies A Man".[7]

In a letter to his charges, Colonel Risher once wrote:


Let me urge each of you to follow the simple Path of Duty. It leads through valleys of disappointment, up hills of difficulty, through deserts of doubts and self-denial, and sometimes down into the darkness of an unknown tomb. It does not end there, but leads into the glorious sunlight of an eternal Resurrection; to joy, and true success.

Faithfully yours,

James F. Risher, Head Master"

Commemoration and ReunionEdit

On April 14, 2018, a commemoration of Carlisle Military School's history was held in Bamberg, SC, on its former campus (now a Federal Department of Labor Job Corps Training Center). A commemorative plaque was dedicated that will be erected as part of the City and County of Bamberg Veterans Memorial Trail. Additionally, the South Carolina House of Representatives passed a Resolution (H.5183) "To Honor The Significant History Of The Carlisle Military School In The Celebration Of The School's Rich Legacy With A Reunion On April 14, 2018".[13]

CMS Plaque


Notable alumniEdit

Photo galleryEdit


  1. ^ "James Carlisle Biography". Wofford College. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  2. ^ Duncan, Watson Boone (1916). Carlisle Memorial. author, Publishing house of the M. E. church, South. p. 65. james h. carlisle.
  3. ^ Boggs, Doyle (2005). Wofford - Shining with Untarnished Honor 1854-2004. Spartanburg, South Carolina: Hub City Writers Project. p. 35. ISBN 1-891885-40-5.
  4. ^ Rogal, Samuel J. (2009). The American Pre-College Military School - A History and Comprehensive Catalog of Institutions. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7864-3958-4.
  5. ^ "Wofford's Fitting School". Wofford College: From the Archives. 2010-03-31. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  6. ^ Rogal, Samuel J. (2009). The American Pre-College Military School - A History and Comprehensive Catalog of Institutions. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0-7864-3958-4.
  7. ^ a b "Headstone of Colonel Risher".
  8. ^ Zemp, Lachicotte; Camden-Carlisle Alumni Association Centennial Committee (1998). Carlisle & Camden : A Centennial History of Carlisle Military School and Camden Military Academy. Camden, S.C.: Midlands Printing Co. p. 151.
  9. ^ FortySeven Media. "History of the Military School - Camden Military Academy".
  10. ^ "A Stepping Stone to Your Future". Bamberg Job Corps. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  11. ^ Duncan, Watson Boone (1916). "Carlisle Memorial,p. 81".
  12. ^ "Bamberg Herald, September 10, 1914, page 8, The Carlisle School and Cotton" (PDF).
  13. ^ "S.C. House Resolution 5183".
  15. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ "The Bugle, Spring/Summer 2011, p. 11" (PDF).
  17. ^ "Oral History Interview with George Hartzog, Jr". Crater Lake Institute. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  18. ^ Robinson, Casey. "Carlisle Alumnus Honored &". Camden Military Academy. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  19. ^ "George Hartzog, Carlisle Class of 1937, revisited the White House before his death on June 27, 2008" (PDF). The Bugle. XXV (1). Camden Military Academy Alumni Association. 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  20. ^ "George B. Hartzog, Jr".
  21. ^ "Golf's Greatest Entertainer".
  22. ^ "Fred Zeigler". S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  23. ^ "Where Are They Now?: Fred Zeigler University of South Carolina Official Athletic Site".
  24. ^ "2014 South Carolina Gamecocks Media Guide, pgs. 117-119" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-08-22.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit