New Market: Virginia Military Institute

Original barracks at Virginia Military Institute

The Corps of Cadets from Virginia Military Institute took an important role in the Battle of New Market. In fact, this battle is the only time in U.S. History that a college student body fought together as a unit and they helped secured the outcome for General Breckinridge and the Confederates.

Through the decades after the battle, they helped to collect and write about the fight, ensuring their place in history and memory. To understand what the cadets did on May 15, 1864, it’s important to understand a little about the Institute’s history and the cadets of the 1860’s. In today’s video, you’ll find scenes filmed on location at Virginia Military Institute in 2018 and a discussion of this background history.

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New Market: The Confederate General, Plan, & Units

John C. Breckinridge, pre-war political days. (LOC)

So…who was the Confederate commander facing Union General Franz Sigel at the Battle of New Market? What units did this Southerner pull together to defend the valley and what was the Confederate plan and situation by spring 1864?

In today’s video you’ll “meet” John C. Breckinridge – a Kentucky politician turned skillful commander. He was another in a line of Confederate generals defending the vital Shenandoah Valley, but he had fewer resources than his predecessors. His pulled together army included infantry, cavalry, and artillery from Virginia and Tennessee, along with a few unique units like Woodson’s Missourians and Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets.

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New Market: The Union General, Plan & Units

Franz Sigel, LOC

Spoiler: The Confederates won the Battle of New Market. But there wouldn’t have been a battle without two sides. Two combative armies.

Today’s video takes a closer look at the Union strategy in the spring of 1864, the life of the new Union general in the Valley region, and the order of battle list for the Union army at New Market. From their excitement to “fight mit Sigel” to frustration and a battlefield defeat, Union soldiers marched and fought their way through the campaign with great courage. For some of the units, New Market was just an episode in their Shenandoah Valley combat record and they would return to fight again other generals.

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New Market: The Town & Community

The back of the Strayer House, New Market, VA

New Market, Virginia, was not reserved land for the battle in 1864. It was a town and community that war invaded.

When was the town founded? Why was it named “New Market”? How many people lived there in the 1860’s? What were they names? Are their homes still standing today?

Today’s video addresses these questions about the town of New Market. Hopefully, it reminds you that Civil War battles took place in real communities and you’ll appreciate the civilian side of the story which clashed with the military events.

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New Market: The Shenandoah Valley

Painting of a Shenandoah Valley farm by William L. Sonntag (c.1860)

Context. Context. Context.

One of my mentors in the history field constantly taught and reminded me of this important aspect of studying the past. It has become one of the continual questions I ask when approaching military or social history. What’s the context?

One important part of context is understanding a region where a significant event happened. That’s what we’re discussing in today’s new video! Come on a journey to one of my favorite places in the world…

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New Market: Why This Battle?

I like to talk directly to people. I’ve come to enjoy presenting history to an audience. I love blogging. But to stand or sit in front of a camera’s eye and talk for a video? RUN! (At least in the past…)

For a couple years, I’ve thought that Gazette665 should move toward producing videos about history, and now is the moment. To overcome fears. To start getting more historical information on a very popular platform.

Today, we launch Gazette665’s YouTube Channel and first history video series. We also start talking about my new NONFICTION book about the Battle of New Market which was fought on May 15, 1864 in the Shenandoah Valley.

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