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The Mexican–American War brought the academy to prominence as graduates proved themselves in battle for the first time. New barracks brought better heat and gas lighting, while new ordnance and tactics training incorporated new rifle and musket technology and accommodated transportation advances created by the steam engine.Nearly every general officer of note from either army during the Civil War was a graduate of West Point and a West Point graduate commanded the forces of one or both sides in every one of the 60 major battles of the war.
Students are officers-in-training and are referred to as "cadets" or collectively as the "United States Corps of Cadets" (USCC).The academy was the only engineering school in the country until the founding of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1824.It was so successful in its engineering curriculum that it significantly influenced every American engineering school founded prior to the Civil War. Lee first distinguished themselves in battle in Mexico.Most graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army.Foreign cadets are commissioned into the armies of their home countries.West Point's student body has a unique rank structure and lexicon.