On May 15, VMI commemorated the 150th anniversary of one of the most significant events in its history – the Battle of New Market. The battle represents a rare moment in U.S. history when an entire student body fought as a unit in pitched battle.
On May 11, 1864, the Corps was given orders to rise early to begin the nearly 85-mile march northward to support Gen. John C. Breckinridge’s troops in battle. Of the 257 cadets engaged, 10 were killed or died as a result of their injuries. Six are buried beneath the statue Virginia Mourning Her Dead in front of Nichols Hall. Every year on the battle’s anniversary, they are remembered with a parade and ceremony on post.
From the start of their cadetships, VMI cadets learn the names of those who “died on the field of honor” as emblems of service, duty, courage, and integrity. As they take their oath at the site of the battle, retrace the steps of the New Market cadets, and honor them in ceremonies, they aspire to make these qualities of character their own.
The New Market Parade and Ceremony on May 15, 2014, again honored the service of the Corps of Cadets at New Market, especially the sacrifice of the 10 who died. Also during this anniversary ceremony, Bruce C. Gottwald '54 received the New Market Medal in recognition of his demonstration of the qualities of devotion, honor, duty, and leadership.