I was with our webmaster Doug Simms today who has done a great job with the First White House website and he mentioned that he went to VMI (Virginia Military Institute) and his brother went to Virginia Tech. VA Tech is where William C. Davis is a professor. He (“Jack” Davis) is going to be with us to celebrate our 2011 Gala and celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States.
Doug reminded me of the huge sacrifice the cadets at VMI made for the War effort. Receiving word that the Union Army had entered the Shenandoah Valley, Confederate General John Breckinridge pulled together all available forces to counter the thrust including the students at VMI.
The cadets marched 81 miles in 4 days to meet with General Breckinridge’s forces. The cadets were to be a reserve but Breckinridge pressed them into battle, saying “Gentlemen, I trust I will not need your services today but if I do, I know you will do your duty.”
The cadets met the Union forces and turned them back. Because it had rained for days and it was so muddy the field would later be dubbed the “Field of Lost Shoes” because of the many pieces of footwear that were pulled off the cadet’s feet by the suction of the mud as the Corps surged forward.
Ten of these brave young cadets were either killed outright or died later of wounds. Forty-eight of the cadets additionally were wounded.
William C. Davis (Jack) has written a “must read” book called The Battle of New Market