Cindy Bither
Administrative Assistant
P: (540) 464-7207
F: (540) 464-7443

111 Smith Hall
Lexington, VA 24450

Spring FTX: Cadets in the Community

Cadets Help New Market Prepare for Re-Enactment


LEXINGTON, Va., April 15, 2013 – Regardless of how good a shape a cadet is in, hauling and chopping wood for extended periods of time is exhausting. Six cadets got to feel that exhaustion during Spring FTX at New Market April 8 and 9.

With the warm, arguably hot, weather finally arrived, the cadets traveled to New Market to help the Virginia Museum of the Civil War in its preparation for a Civil War re-enactment scheduled for May 18 and 19.

Maj. Troy Marshall, museum site director, put the cadets to work on piles of logs that needed to be cut into fireplace-size pieces for use by the 600 to 700 re-enactors. Throughout the morning, the cadets used mauls, axes, and a hammer and splitter to reduce the logs to firewood.

“What this does is save us … literally having to go out and spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars for firewood,” said Marshall.
Some logs were easier to split then others. Pithy woods and stubborn knots sometimes slowed the process, but persistence paid off and the cadets eventually became less visible, blocked by the growing piles of chopped wood. There was much sweat and much accomplished.

“It’s just a small price to pay to come out here and have the tradition going,” said Cadet Clayton White ’15, a mechanical engineering major.

The FTX assignment was also an extension of Park Day, held April 6. This annual event, organized by the Civil War Trust, has been going on since 1996 and allows people to help with maintenance-related duties on Civil War battlefields and historic sites. The FTX activity also gives cadets an opportunity to be present at New Market.

“I think it’s vital as much as possible to get the cadets up here,” said Marshall. “It’s good for the public to see the cadets.”
Helping that day were cadets Fred Wang ’13, Sean Purnell ’13, Jonathan Hampton ’13, Abhimanyu Trikha ’14, White, and Nicholas Dreybus ’15. “Anything we can do to connect the Institute to the battlefield is vital for us,” said Marshall.

“It’s all for a good cause,” said Chad Phillips, grounds worker and maintenance supervisor. Phillips also chopped wood and used a chainsaw to create more manageable pieces for the cadets to chop.

Working at New Market reminded the cadets of the 10 who died as a result of the Battle of New Market in 1864.

“It’s nice to be able to give back, especially for those [who] … committed so much,” said White.

Added Wang, “New Market holds a special significance in the hearts of VMI cadets.”

These six cadets were among many who fanned out into the community during Spring FTX. They assisted with events including VMI’s 10K/half-marathon Torch Run, Special Olympics, the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair, the Nabors Service League Children’s Carnival, and Shredding Saturday with Rockbridge County Recycling. In addition, they worked with children in schools including Mountain View Elementary, Central Elementary, Fairfield Elementary, Natural Bridge Elementary, Rockbridge Middle, Maury River Middle, Rockbridge County High, and the Boys’ Home in Covington, Va. Cadets also worked at Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden, Rockbridge Area Hospice, Project Horizon, Rockbridge Area YMCA, and Rockbridge SPCA.

But for the six, helping out was one more opportunity to be a part of the New Market story. As Marshal put it, New Market is “their battlefield.”

– H. Lockwood McLaughlin