Thursday, May 15, 2008

Today in History: "Put the boys in, and may God forgive me..."

On this day in 1864, the cadets of the Virginia Military Institute fixed bayonets and met the 34th Massachusetts in the middle of a muddy field near New Market, Virginia. Against all probability, the cadets carried the field and captured the Union front-line positions.

12 comments:

B&N said...

Might this event explain the rampant and irrational fear of the gun, that carries through to this day amongst the citizens of Taxachusetts?

Tam said...

You'd think they'd be terrified of fifteen year olds with bayonets.

Matt G said...

I'm sure that the former Vice President Breckenridge went to his deathbed with regrets for the 10 cadets' lives. But there are many worse ways for an aspiring young man to die than in battle on the field of honor, falling toward his foe (whoever it may be).

OA said...

I have no doubt they'd piddle down their legs at the sight of that, too. Hell, these are the people that went ape over a lite brite.

BobG said...

"You'd think they'd be terrified of fifteen year olds with bayonets."

I'm more frightened by sixteen year olds with driver's licenses.

Wade (VMI '93) said...

Today at VMI, the Corps will assemble on the parade ground and the names of those ten cadets will be read aloud by the 1st Captain. The individual company commanders will answer with the names of each of the cadets, followed by "..died on the field of honor" The 1st Captain will do an about-face, and recite the names of all ten cadets to the Commandant, followed by '...died on the field of honor." Two buglers will play echo Taps from two points across the parade ground. I defy anyone, even the most hardened anti-secessionist ideolgue, not to get a lump in their throat watching that ceremony.

Hunter said...

Wade,
Quite correct. I've walked PTs on Old Barracks, and the memory of that turn around at the end of the walk, opposite JAM Hall, still gives me goosebumps thinking of the Moses statue of Virginia Mourning Her Dead.

(Softly, today) Rah Virginia Mil, Rah, Rah, Rah.

Hunter (VMI '80)

Earl said...

Do we have a school, academy or cadet corps that would march forward to carry the day - in today's America? But then they did have four years of reading about their families and the War of Secession, we have television and electrionic unmanned weapons systems, and no child left behind.

Gewehr98 said...

Glad to see that Tam still carries the torch for a war that ended 150+ years ago.

Maybe she can swing a rebel flag in Indianapolis in their honor?

That should make up for all the times I purposely failed to stand up in the ballparks when they played "Dixie" during my assignments in the occupied territories south of the Mason/Dixon line.

Tam said...

Hey, Wade! We found someone who'd laugh through the ceremony at VMI.

Matt G said...

Strange. I didn't see any posts here as being for any war, at any time.

Rather, the original post was a note of a fascinating moment in history where green boys fought veteran men on the field, because they were the only resource deemed to be left. More fascinating is the fact that the influx of the boy cadets was what turned the tide and won the field of battle.

Believe it or not, there can be honorable warriors on all sides of a battle or war, not just the one you happen to be cheering for. A great many of those with honor fought their own countrymen, about 145 years ago. It is not jingoistic secessionist propaganda to merely acknowledge that.

ewen55 said...

And, VMI, as the only military school ever to have won a battle, has the sole right to parade with fixed bayonettes.
I had the honor to serve with a V.M.I. grad, a fine Marine and a brilliant officer, who probably could have qualified for 15 or 16 purple hearts if he'd bothered to report them. His pride of corp and love of V.M.I.'s history and ethos did honor to both him and it. Shamefully, I hadn't remembered him in a while. Thank you for reminding me.
Major Dabney, wherever you are, thank you for showing us how to do it right.