New Market Day – 2020


"The Battle of New Market was fought on May 15, 1864, in Virginia during the Valley Campaigns of 1864 in the American Civil War. A makeshift Confederate army of 4,100 men, which included cadets from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), defeated Union Major General Franz Sigel and his Army of the Shenandoah. The cadets were integral to the Confederate victory at New Market and this event marks the only time in U.S. history wherein the student body of a functioning and an operating college fought as an organized unit in pitched combat in battle (as recognized by the American Battlefield Trust).[5][6] This event and battle was the 14th time VMI Cadets were called into action during the Civil War. As a result of this defeat, Sigel was relieved of his command and replaced by Maj. Gen. David Hunter, who later burned VMI in retaliation for New Market."  wiki


Captain Henry A Dupont, US Army who commanded a battery of the 5th US Artillery at New Market was later a US Senator.  Many years after the battle he said that he wished he could have sent his sons to VMI.  pl

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12 Responses to New Market Day – 2020

  1. Fred says:

    Hunter was a big believer in martial law and scorched earth. “The residence of Ex-Governor Letcher at that place had been burned by orders, and but a few minutes given Mrs. Letcher and her family to leave the house” wiki on Hunter.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Slightly off-topic but close. I am currently reading the biography of U. S. Grant by Chernow, Grant (he is also the author of Hamilton, the basis of the musical). Well. I defy anyone to be able to put it down. It is a rare page turner. That said, I read nothing in it to change my mind that the South should have been allowed to secede, and the war should never have been fought. That would have probably been impossible given all the political fighting about the status of slavery in the West. I don’t know. But there certainly was no legal reason why the South should not have been allowed to secede. To those who say that marks me as a racist, I say that the United States is racist through and through, created by racists, governed by racists, and imbued with racism by its laws and institutions. Look in the mirror. Slavery was an anachronism in 1860. It was dying. Enough. But the book is about Grant. And Grant was a very, very complex man whose wife owned slaves right up until the declaration of war, etc. etc. etc. I guess one of the keys to the book (which I suspect Colonel Lang addresses in his three novels) is the degree to which Grant was basically an extension of the mind and character of Abraham Lincoln. The book is a must read.

  3. turcopolier says:

    Grant was a a man not good at anything but war. He was merely convenient for Lincoln who needed such a man. He appears in my work. 19th Century Americans on both sides were no more racist than the French or the British. Slavery would have died out in the US as agri-business came to rely on inherently cheaper farm machinery, but not before that.

  4. turcopolier says:

    Black Dave Hunter was an ardent abolitionist who hated his Virginia relatives and burned their houses whenever he got the chance. His men stole from everyone in Lexington while the held the town. Early chased him all the way to the Ohio River before marching north to Maryland. Hunter was president of the military commission that tried the Lincoln operation people.

  5. Fred says:

    If you want another good book about the civil war I reccomend Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative
    CSPAN has a rather long interview of him on “booknotes” (which is a very under appreciated resource) talking about writing and some discussion of Faulkner.
    Here’s a brief video clip of him on the confederate battle flag. We’re to busy now a days erasing our history for political reasons, rather than trying to learn from it.

  6. Leith says:

    Any insight on what happened to the cannon captured by the cadets?
    And is the Sean McNamara movie mentioned in Wiki worth watching or is it a hit job?

  7. turcopolier says:

    A lot of what I know of those days is derived from a small leather covered book called the “Bullet” that Rats were required to memorize and carry in a breast pocket. If I remember correctly that gun was taken back to Lexington and when the cadet corps evacuated the town in the face of Hunter’s advance it went with them to Richmond where it was surrendered at the end of the war. I have never seen the film.

  8. Bill H says:

    I recall the scene in “The Horse Soldiers,” which was a pretty good movie for its day.

  9. turcopolier says:

    Bill H
    For its day? For any day! John Ford’s work is ALL good. I did not like the comic scene about the boy soldiers. At New Market 10 cadets were killed and over all casualties in the cadet battalion were about 25%. BTW, the novel the film was based on is quite good. It is based on Grierson’s Raid.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Just to expand on the fact that the “Civil War”, an oxymoron if ever there was one, should never have been fought. It is simply obscene that men who had either fought in the Revolutionary War or whose fathers had, who were as well-informed about the creation of the “United States”, whose fathers had created the Constitution of the United States, whose fathers owned slaves, it is obscene in the last degree that these same men should suddenly decide that slavery was a bad thing. Obscene, obscene, obscene. But they were not content with that. No. The “Union” had to be preserved. Really? By war? Really?
    Our attitudes toward race relations and slavery today are simply irrelevant to what happened in 1860. The “South” should have been permitted to secede and form their own country based on their own laws, laws which had far more in common with the laws on which the country was founded, than the subsequent laws passed after the Civil War.
    Grant was a pawn. He acted in the service of the political desires of Abraham Lincoln. He himself, Grant, affirmatively admitted that. That he shared Lincoln’s beliefs was the essence of his existence.
    It is peculiarly appropriate and certainly completely predictable that Donald Trump should have conducted an interview with Fox News on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Trump lives on, relishes, and promotes divisiveness with everything he does in every facet of American life. What a surprise that he should be President of the country that produced the Civil War.
    American slavery was a holocaust. 11,000,000 Africans lost their lives to slavery. The Civil War simply compounded that horrific crime. As did the invasion of Iraq, etc. etc. Nothing has been learned. You can’t make people better with a gun.

  11. turcopolier says:

    “11,000,000 Africans lost their lives to slavery.” Did they die in slavery or because of slavery or because of slavery? There is a big difference. Citation? I suppose you include people who died in the “Middle Passage,” and in the Caribbean sugar islands where slaves died in such numbers that the slave population could not replace its dead and slave imports continued for a long time. In contrast the Black population of the US (both slave and free) grew steadily after importation stopped.

  12. Fred says:

    “Our attitudes toward race relations and slavery today are simply irrelevant to what happened in 1860. ”
    But not to 1619?
    “American slavery was a holocaust.” Americans ended slavery in America.

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