Stone Sentinels, battlefield monuments of the American Civil War

New Market

Baptism of Fire

A historical marker on the Baptism of Fire of the Virginia Military Academy Corps of Cadets is on the New Market Battlefield outside New Market, Virginia. It was erected by Virginia Civil War Trails and Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

 

How to get there

The marker is in the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park outside of New Market, Virginia. From exit 264 on Interstate 81 take U.S. 211 west a short distance and immediately turn right onto the George Collins Parkway (Route 305). Continue one mile to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War. The marker is 120 feet east of the entrance to the museum. There is an admission fee for the park and museum. (38.661786° N, 78.670261° W; see map)

 

Text from the marker:

 

Baptism of Fire
VMI Cadet Casualties in the Battle of New Market

 

While the cadets of the Virginia Military Institute comprised one of the smallest Confederate units engaged in the Battle of New Market, they paid a disproportionately high price in their baptism of fire. Nearly one in four of the cadets were either killed or wounded during the fighting, resulting in the third-highest casualty rate in Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge’s army.

 

In addition to 45 cadets who would survive their wounds, ten cadets were either killed outright or would die after the battle ended. Even before the cadets were ordered into the battle line, a single artillery shell took the lives of Cadets William Cabell, Charles Crockett, and Henry Jones.

 

William Hugh McDowell was killed near the Bushong House, and Jacqueline “Bev” Stanard also died on the field. After saving another wounded cadet’s life by applying a tourniquet during the battle, Thomas G. Jefferson was struck in the body and succumbed in the Clinedinst home in New Market on May 18, consoled by Eliza Clinedinst and Cadet Moses Ezekiel.

 

Joseph Wheelwright, who was wounded around the same time as Cabell, Crockett, and Jones, died on June 2 at the home of a doctor in Harrisonburg. Luther Haynes also lingered, dying of his wounds in Richmond on June 15. On June 26, Alva Hartsfield suffered a fatal collapse brought on by his wounds in Petersburg.

 

Samuel Atwill, though slightly wounded in the calf, died of lockjaw on July 20, the last fatal casualty of the Battle of New Market.



Wayside marker on the Baptism of Fire of the Virginia Military Academy Corps of Cadets at New Market. The marker overlooks the site of the charge across the Bushong Farm.
(above and below) Wayside marker on the Baptism of Fire of the Virginia Military Academy Corps of Cadets at New Market. The marker overlooks the site of the charge across the Bushong Farm.

Wayside marker on the Baptism of Fire of the Virginia Military Academy Corps of Cadets at New Market.

(below) Cadets William Cabell, William McDowell, Samuel Atwill, Thomas Jefferson and Jack Stanard were killed or mortally wounded at New Market.





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