Ghost Cadet Resources.
William McDowell Death Notification
Ghost Cadet home
Virginia Mil. Institute
May 25th, 1864
Mr. R.I. McDowell
Mount Mourne, Iredell Co. N.C.
You have doubtless received before this the mournful intelligence that your [noble] son has been added to the long list of the gallant dead who have fallen in defending their country against the invasion of a ruthless foe. The newspapers have furnished you with accounts of the victory gained by Gen. Breckinridge over Sigel near New Market, and every notice of the fight bgears unequivocal testimony to the value of the aid rendered by the Corps of Cadets and the [illegible] valour that they displayed in the action. You have also received, I suppose, an official letter from the Adjutant informing you of the sad event.
I can add nothing more except the statement that the fatal ball passed entirely through his body, entering a little to the [illegible] of the breastbone and coming out on the left of the spine, passing probably through the heart, so that it may be concluded that his death was instantaneous.
This I received from Col. Gilham who examined the body before its interment. I have not been able to see anyone who was near him when he fell, as the cadets have not returned to the Institute, [having been] ordered to Richmond.
The Quartermaster will endeavor to preserve any mementos or any property of the cadets who have fallen, but cannot at present while the Corps is absent identify what belongs to each. The letter which you gave me for him [3 words illegible] and which weighed as a heavy burden on my heart after I heard before I reached home, that the words of affection it contained could never reach the eyes closed in death forever--together with a second one received from the office for him, I have directed to be kept subject to your order not choosing to subject them to the risk of the mail in the present uncertainty of transmission.
I offer no words of condolence. I know how to sympathize with you for my noblest son fell slain in battle not two months after he left the Institute--and I know by experience that the only comfort for so great a sorrow must come from a source higher than any on earth.