May 15, 1864: Battle of New Market

Monday, May 15, AD 2017

 

“And New Market’s young cadets.”

Southern Birthright, Bobby Horton

New_Market_svg

John C. Breckinridge, fourteenth Vice-President of the United States and current Confederate Major General, had a big problem.  His task was to hold the Shenandoah Valley, the bread basket of the Army of Northern Virginia, for the Confederacy, and he was confronted with two Union columns seeking to rendezvous at Staunton, Virginia and place the Valley under Union control.  One column under George Crook was coming from the West Virginia.  The second column under Franz Sigel was coming down the Valley.  Sigel had twice the men that Breckinridge could muster, 9,000 to 4000, but Breckinridge saw no alternative but to march north and engage Sigel before the two Union columns could join against him.

The Confederacy by this time was robbing the cradle and the grave to fill out its ranks.  In the cradle contingent with Breckinridge were 257 cadets of the Virginia Military Institute, who ranged in age from 15-24.

Breckinridge brought Sigel to battle at mid-morning on May 15, 1864 south of New Market.  With detachments Sigel’s force was down to 6,000 men.  However, 2 to 3 was still very poor odds for an attacking army.

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6 Responses to May 15, 1864: Battle of New Market

  • The New Market National(?) Battle Field can be accessed off US Route 81. We passed there a number of times coming and going to Forts Campbell and Polk to visit our son. Next time we head south, will stop there. Also, Antietam isn’t that far off our route, need to stop there.

    Likely, John Ford in his movie “The Horse Soldiers” used the VMI/New Market theme for the
    scene where the military school cadets charged the US Cavalry – great scene. Note the young soldier who had been relieved b/c he was sole surviving son, absconding out of his mother’s home to join the fight . . . ‘The Bonnie Blue Flag”

  • The Cadets of VMI still make the march from the Institute to New Market every year to commemorate their forbears’ march down the Valley Pike. Sigel came “up” the valley in the somewhat unexpected way of referring to directions in the Shenandoah Valley (due to the fact that the Shenandoah runs north). http://www.virginiaplaces.org/regions/13shenan.html

  • Astonishing heroism, astonishing victory. Breckinridge was one of the finest “amateur” soldiers of the war, and Davis’ finest Secretary of War (albeit too little, too late).

    Sigel? Well, he was superb at Pea Ridge–and nowhere else. Who knows? He might even be a reason why Americans weren’t particularly afraid of the Kaiser’s legions in the Great War…

  • I think it’s Interstate 81 that runs by the battlefield. US 81 runs from North Dakota to Texas.

  • Yes, I-81 unfortunately cuts right through the Valley, parallel to US 11, the original, macadamized Valley Pike, that bisected the original New Market battlefield.

Field of Lost Shoes

Friday, October 17, AD 2014

Field of Lost Shoes, a film on the role played by cadets of the Virginia Military Institute at the battle of New Market on May 15, 1864, is in limited release now.  If I cannot see it in a theater, I will certainly buy it on dvd when it comes out.  Here is my post on the battle of New Market that I ran earlier this year.

“And New Market’s young cadets.”

Southern Birthright, Bobby Horton

New_Market_svg

John C. Breckinridge, fourteenth Vice-President of the United States and current Confederate Major General, had a big problem.  His task was to hold the Shenandoah Valley, the bread basket of the Army of Northern Virginia, for the Confederacy, and he was confronted with two Union columns seeking to rendezvous at Staunton, Virginia and place the Valley under Union control.  One column under George Crook was coming from the West Virginia.  The second column under Franz Sigel was coming down the Valley.  Sigel had twice the men that Breckinridge could muster, 9,000 to 4000, but Breckinridge saw no alternative but to march north and engage Sigel before the two Union columns could join against him.

 

The Confederacy by this time was robbing the cradle and the grave to fill out its ranks.  In the cradle contingent with Breckinridge were 257 cadets of the Virginia Military Institute, who ranged in age from 15-24.

 

Breckinridge brought Sigel to battle at mid-morning on May 15, 1864 south of New Market.  With detachments Sigel’s force was down to 6,000 men.  However, 2 to 3 was still very poor odds for an attacking army.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Field of Lost Shoes

  • When I read the title, I thought it was something about 5 year-olds and the proclivity of their shoes to disappear, only to be found in a magical field somewhere – along with the missing half of unmatched socks.

  • “. . . for when the tug of battle came they bore themselves gallantly and well.”
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    Quick calculations (Hey, I’m a numbers guy!) help tell the tale.
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    Confederate casualty (cited numbers) rates – 13% overall with 1% KIA. VMI casualty rates 22% overall with 4% KIA. Union losses (high 4% missing/POW) 15% overall /2% KIA.
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    “Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.” Robert E. Lee advice to his son.
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