Stonewall Jackson at VMI
Charles M. Barton Letter (Manuscript #020)
Stonewall Jackson at VMI Home
This letter, written by Cadet Charles M. Barton (Class of 1856) to his cousin Joe, features both a blunt assessment of cadet life and comments about his least favorite professor, Stonewall Jackson. During the Civil War, Barton served with Cutshaw's Artillery Battery and was killed at Winchester, Virginia, on May 25, 1862.
V.M.I. Sept. 28th 55.
In the eloquent language of one of my roommates, Thank God Friday night has come again. You can't imagine with what deep interest I count the days as they come & go. I have a calendar on my ward robe door & the first thing after my return from reveille in the morning is to scratch off the preceding day & generally, I find my way back into bed pretty near as fast as I have to get out of it, although in direct opposition to the regulations of V.M.I. But from many years, I may say, of practice, I have become cute enough to dodge Spex, Gil & the other grand rascals.
I can assure you that I am heartily sick of the military, studies & everything else connected with the V.M.I. & I don't think I will touch a gun, book, or anything that bears any resemblance to them for some time after I leave here, that is if I ever do get away.
I have been here so long that I feel as if I had been living here all my life, & the idea of leaving it, perhaps never to return, seems almost impossible to believe.
I find the studies this years a great deal more interesting than they have been heretofore, with the exception of one single one, which so counterbalances the rest as to throw all the good part into the shade. We commenced studying engineering this year. I find the military engineering quite interesting & I hope I may find civil equally so, as it is the only thing I care knowing anything about.
The study I referred to just now was Optics, which from being so very difficult, & taught by such a hell of a fool, whose name is Jackson, has suggested the following lines,
The V.M.I. O What a spot
In winter cold, in summer hot
Great Lord Al- what a wonder
Major Jackson Hell & Thunder
I am afraid I have digressed too far, to refer to the reception of your letter which I can assure you was the most welcome one I have received for a long time. I'll swear I am almost ashamed [to] send off a letter like this full of evasions, mistakes &c, but I know you will excuse me when I tell you that I have my four roommates in a very exciting discussion, cursing & ripping so that I can hardly hear myself. In such a fuss as this I can hardly compose myself sufficiently to refer to that sweet note that has been ringing in my ears ever since its reception. Oh, how much I wished to be back at least for a day or two. It brought on quite a relapse as I felt like leaving the V.M.I. immediately. I felt nearly reconciled to stay this year out, but for three or four days I have not been able to open a book, I can't account for the reason. You asked me to burn up your letter. Of course you did not include that part or it, & even if you did I don't think I would grant your request. I carry it in my left pocket & have nearly worn it out already. I think I must send soon after an original copy. I reckon that name, which you did not want to mention in your letter, got in there after all, for the same reason as you gave I do not like to write it in mine. I believe at last it has been decided that we shall not go to Richmond. I did not care much about going, so I was not much disappointed. Write soon. Give love to all enquiring friends. I remain your affectionate cousin