May 15: A Day Like No Other

“Virginia Mourning Her Dead”
(Photo from 2018)

It’s New Market Day. The anniversary of the Battle of New Market when Confederate troops under General John C. Breckinridge drove Federal soldiers commanded by General Franz Sigel off the high ground around New Market and into retreat back down the Virginian Shenandoah Valley. It’s the anniversary of when 257 cadets from Virginia Military Institute filled a gap in the Confederate battle line and helped turn the conflict in favor of a southern victory and moment of “youthful glory.”

But this May 15 is unlike other New Market Days. The classes at Virginia Military Institute will not parade in front of the Virginia Memorial and graves of the cadets who died in 1864. No crowd will gather for a tour at New Market battlefield (though Lt. Col. Marshall did host a Facebook LIVE to mark the occasion). I am not hosting a tour or a booksigning. I’m sitting in my apartment about two and a half hours from New Market, wearing a “Field of Lost Shoes” T-Shirt, and working from home for my job.

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