The field of lost shoes- VMI cadets at New Market

Discussion in 'Revolutionary War' started by carolgreen299, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. carolgreen299

    carolgreen299 New Member

    In May of 1864, Grant was locked in deadly combat with Lee at the Wilderness. While it was necessary that Lee should concentrate the strength of his thinned gray ranks in order to oppose the overwhelming force that faced him, Grant could out of his sheer numbers harass his adversary from other points, as well. It was in an effort to disturb Lee's rear by destroying his communications and base of supplies that General Franz Sigel, German-born immigrant in command of the Department of West Virginia, was ordered to invade the Shenandoah Valley.

    General John C. Breckinridge was sent by Lee to reinforce General Imboden's brigade, which had occupied the valley all winter, and to check Sigel's advance with all possible haste. Breckinridge left his headquarters in Southwest Virginia and, by forced marches, arrived at Staunton on May 8.

    On the following day, the cadet corps of the Virginia Military Institute was summoned. During the three long years of the war, the cadets had craved a chance to take active part in some campaign. Although they had once appeared with Jackson in the valley as reserve troops and had on several occasions been ordered out to chase small detachments of Yankees in the mountains near Lexington and Lynchburg, they had never participated in battle. This conflict took place on May 15, 1864. The 251 cadets from VMI made the 81 mile march from Lexington to New Market. Confederate General John Breckenridge had made it clear that the students would only be used a reinforcements and only in the direst of circumstances.
  2. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    They used to have an annual re-enactment of the battle. I was privileged to have been a member of the first contingent of actual VMI cadets to participate in the re-enactment, way back in May 1975. About a week later, at the Institute's annual New Market Parade, I was honored to be chosen to represent Cadet Private Jefferson, stepping forward from the front rank of B Company and reporting "Died on the field of Honor, Sir" when his name was called.

    The New Market Parade is held every May 15th, a full dress Corps review parade during which the names of the cadets killed are read out and a first class private from an appropriate company steps forward and reports. It is the only parade for which the pass in review is performed on the street between the parade ground and the New market monument. Pass in review for all other parades, a weekly event weather permitting, is performed on the parade ground itself. The New Market monument is entitled "Virginia Mourning Her Dead" and was sculpted by Sir Moses Ezekiel, himself a New Market Cadet, class of 1866. Ezekiel himself is buried at Arlington Cemetery at the Confederate Memorial in section 16. The plaque in his honor reads simply "Moses J. Ezekiel Sergeant of Company C Battalion of Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute."

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