Presentation on theme: "1. In 1864, the Valley was the breadbasket of the Confederacy. Its ripe farms and fields provided critical wheat, corn, beans, meat and potatoes for Lee."— Presentation transcript:
In 1864, the Valley was the breadbasket of the Confederacy. Its ripe farms and fields provided critical wheat, corn, beans, meat and potatoes for Lee and his men, who were engaged in battle to the East, just across the Blue Ridge mountains. Logistics are a major factor of every military campaign; the loss of food for his soldiers, and of fodder for his cavalry, dray, and artillery animals, would have major impact on Lees abilities to continue the fight against General Ulysses Grants Army of the Potomac. The 1864 drive up the Shenandoah Valley by the Union Army was designed to cut off Robert E. Lees Army of Northern Virginia from its main source of food and animal fodder.
Although the Valley had been the ground for Stonewall Jacksons famed 1862 campaign, in 1864 New Market was still an untouched, sleepy farm town astride the Valley Pike, dozing in the sun.
The Valley lies between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghenies, sloping gently downward, northeast toward Harpers Ferry and Washington DC.
To the northeast of New Market, the great bulk of Massanutten Mountain looms over the Valley, as it has for thousands of years.
Commanding all Confederate forces in the Valley in the Spring of 1864 was General John C. Breckinridge, former Vice President of the United States.
Commanding the Union forces in the Shenandoah in the Spring of 1864 was General Franz Sigel, a native German with prior service in the Prussian military, and a successful career in minor New York politics. In times of crisis, Sigel was given to lapsing into his native German, which did not encourage tactical cohesion, since many of his subordinate officers did not speak that language.
New Market is 85 miles northeast of Lexington, on the Valley Pike – in 1864 a dirt road wide enough for horse-drawn wagons. Summoned by messenger to join Breckinridge, the VMI cadets made the 85 miles in a three-and-a-half- day forced march, arriving on the southern outskirts of New Market on the cloudy and troubled evening of 14 May. The sound of guns could be heard to the north as the cadets bedded down in a sodden field. None had ever been in action.
Though some VMI cadets who fought at New Market were from other Southern states, the overwhelming majority were Virginians, loyal to their native state, to which they had pledged their duty and honor.
25 year old Lieutenant Colonel Scott Shipp, Superintendent of VMI and affectionately known for his characteristic goatee as Old Billy by the cadets, led the attack. Shipp was one of the first wounded casualties, struck down by a shell fragment, which knocked him unconscious.
Though the uniforms of the re-enactors at left are sharp, the actual appearance of the cadets at New Market was as shown at the right. Four years of war, rationing, and scarcity of cloth resulted in the homespun butternut coloring of the uniform.
Contemporary evidence can be seen in these plates by famed Civil War artist Walton Taber, in a volume of sketches published immediately after the war. On the left is the sharp turnout of the VMI cadet of 1861, while on the right, the cadets 1864 appearance is far more utilitarian, reflecting the wartime Virginia maxim: Use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without.
Modern re-enactors in the uniforms of two Southern units that fought at New Market. 51st Virginia Infantry above, and 30th Virginia Infantry below.
Modern re-enactors on the battlefield at New market. The actual battle took place in driving rain and thunderstorms.
Development of the battle. Sigel advances south; his brigade under Moore is attacked by Breckinridge on the west side of the Valley Pike between the road and the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Echols Brigade in this attack is led by Colonel George S. Patton, CSA. Imboden, with cavalry and horse-drawn light artillery, demonstrates, and tries to flank the Union left The battle does not go well for the Confederates; Breckinridge is forced to order the VMI cadets, held in reserve, into the action. The cadets attack the center of the Union line in the teeth of artillery firing point blank, overrunning the leading Union battery with their bayonets.
The battlefield today is owned by VMI, and restored almost exactly to its appearance on 15 May 1864. You are looking from the point where the VMI cadets were held in reserve until ordered into action. Past the white buildings of the Bushong family farm to the front, the gentle slope seen under the trees beyond is the location of the Union lines during the battle. The cadets advanced forward from here in parade ground order; divided into two battalions, they passed on either side of the farmhouse, and re-formed on the far side, at all times under artillery and musket fire. They then advanced and attacked the leading Union battery with their bayonets and dress swords, carrying the battery and the day.
A modern painting of the cadets attack. Passing on either side of the Bushong farmhouse, they re-formed and crossed a field so muddy from the incessant rains it sucked many of their shoes off their feet. Color Sergeant O.P. Howard holds aloft the regimental flag, adorned with the motto of Virginia, Sic Semper Tyrannus – Thus always to tyrants.
A painting of the battle done for LIFE magazine in 1961 depicts Cadet Color Sergeant O.P Howard waving the regimental colors atop a captured 12-pound Napoleon field gun. This incident happened as shown.
The attack of the cadets as depicted in the enormous painting of the battle in Jackson Memorial Hall at VMI, executed by the internationally famous artist Benjamin West Clinedinst (VMI 1880) from notes and interviews with cadets who fought at New Market. This painting is the most accurate rendition of the attack. 12 cadets were killed in action or died of wounds afterward and 47 were wounded, for a 26 per cent loss. No Infantry unit can sustain casualties this heavy repeatedly, and remain an effective force.
The cadet barracks at VMI (left) as seen immediately before the Civil War. The cadet corps was withdrawn to Richmond following the Battle of New market. In June 1864, the Union Army sent another force up the Valley, under General David Hunter. This force, essentially unopposed, shelled VMI from across the Maury River for half a day, then crossed the river into Lexington and burned the barracks and many of the other Institute buildings. The statue of Washington, seen on the parapet in front of the sallyport, was removed by Hunters troops, but returned to VMI and rededicated in 1866. It remains in that position today.
Several of the solid cannon shot fired at VMI by Hunters artillery are still embedded in the wall of one of the barracks towers facing the Maury River. The Department of Buildings and Grounds ensures that they will remain there.
Captain Henry A. du Pont was a Union officer at New Market, and witnessed the cadet attack. He was so impressed by the bravery of the boys under withering fire that after the war, as a United States Senator, he sponsored legislation to appropriate Federal funds to rebuild the Virginia Military Institute.
Jackson Memorial Hall at VMI today, with the painting of the battle by Clinedinst. The overhanging flags are those of the Confederate States of America.
Seen through the great windows above the choir loft of Jackson Memorial Hall: the colors of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Virginia Mourning Her Dead executed by Sir Moses Ezekial (VMI 1866), the first Jewish cadet to attend VMI, and in later life an internationally-acclaimed sculptor and artist. Six of the cadets killed at New Market are buried behind the statue. On 15 May each year the Superintendent and Cadet First Captain lay wreaths before each grave.
On 15 May each year the Institute commemorates New Market with a full-dress regimental review. The Corps takes the field with gaps in the ranks of A, B, C, and D Companies, in which cadets were killed in the battle. The names of the casualties are called by the Cadet First Captain. At each, a cadets voice rings out from the ranks, Died on the field of honor, sir! The Corps then passes in review before the statue of Virginia Mourning Her Dead. It is the only occasion during the year when the Regimental Band plays Dixie.
The overcoats worn by VMI cadets are of the same pattern as those worn at West Point (left), except for the lining of the capes. The VMI capes are lined with blood-red, in memory of the cadets killed and wounded at New Market.The capes are turned back for parade under white cross- belts, as shown below. The Corps also always parades with fixed bayonets, marking the cadets bayonet attack at New Market.
1 The New Market battle streamer, authorized by Congress to the Virginia Military Institute. Attached to the same regimental colors waved over the captured Union battery in 1864, it underscores the fact that the Corps of Cadets at VMI fought as an independent Infantry unit, and is the only college body in the United States to have done so.
Among the famous names associated with VMI is Thomas Jonathan Jackson (USMA 1846), shown here as a Major in the Virginia Militia, immediately before the war. As a Professor at VMI Jackson taught the course in Natural and Experimental Philosophy, known today as Physics, and artillery mathematics. He was a didactic and rigid instructor; known to the cadets variously as Old Tom, or Tom Fool. However, as a General in the Confederate Army, he was a ferocious tactician, feared by the enemy. Just before the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, seeing so many of his Corps units commanded by VMI graduates, he remarked to an aide, The Institute will be heard from today.
Stonewall Jacksons grave in the Lexington cemetery, as seen today. He was more than a bit eccentric, and in the saddle would often elevate one arm, then the other, in order to allow the fluids of the body to naturally redistribute themselves. Another eccentricity was his habit of eating lemons, as others would eat oranges. While reconnoitering an attack route in the darkness and confusion of the aftermath of the first day at Chancellorsville, Jackson was shot from his saddle by soldiers of a North Carolina regiment. Hit several times by large-caliber balls, his left arm had to be amputated. He died of pneumonia shortly afterward, and was buried at Lexington. The yellow objects on the lawn are fresh lemons, thrown over the fence by present-day admirers from around the world.
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