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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, known as the “Breadbasket of the Confederacy,” is home to the Virginia Military Institute. Located in Lexington, Virginia, VMI played a significant role in the American Civil War—from the execution of John Brown in 1859 to the disbanding of the Corps of Cadets during the fall of Richmond in 1865. The Corps, consisting of young men between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, served on active duty with the Confederate Army several times during their years at VMI but no one could have predicted the events of May 11-15, 1864, when the Corps marched from their campus in Lexington into history at the Battle of New Market. During this battle, ten cadets paid the ultimate price. Today, over one hundred fifty years later, new cadets report to New Market to learn about the sacrifices made in 1864, and walk where the cadets of 1864 fought and died. Roll call taken on the anniversary of the Battle of New Market includes the names of those who died. A cadet, designated as their representative, responds to the names of the fallen with, “Died on the Field of Honor, Sir.”

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