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New Market day at V. M. I. [from the Richmond, Va., times-dispatch, June 24, 1903.

Honor to men of imperishable glory.

Old cadets numerous.

Dr. J. N. Upshur Delivers a splendid Address—Survivors to be Decorated with crosses of Honor—John S. Wise speaks.

Lexington, Va., June 23, 1903.
New Market!” Every yell given at the Virginia Military Institute has ended with that word, and every feature of the exercises has impressed upon the beholder that this commencement is designed to honor the men who gave to the institute imperishable glory in the charge they made on that memorable day in ‘64.

Seventy survivors of the historic charge are here, and to-day they have been the recipients of honors such as are bestowed upon few men in the course of their lives. From sixteen States the old cadets have come, and every one has been delighted to honor the gallant boys of ‘64.

Lexington is overflowing with visitors. The two hotels are turning away intending guests. Every boarding-house is filled, and the barracks are accommodating about as many visitors as possible.

The features of the ceremonies to-day were the speech of Dr. J. N. Upshur, of Richmond, a New Market survivor, in Jackson Hall this morning; the unveiling of the New Market battle monument immediately afterwards; the great meeting of the alumni this afternoon, and their decision to decorate with crosses of honor the survivors of the battle of New Market; the sham battle and the alumni banquet and the cadet hop to-night.

Three thousand strong.

Three thousand people from various sections of the State were here to-day to hear the addresses. A third of them were old cadets or of the families of men who got their training at the Institute.

It was after 11 o'clock when Captain J. R. Anderson, Jr., called to order the audience which was packed into Jackson Hall. The [174] New Market boys, seventy in number, occupied seats of honor in front of the rostrum. On their right were seated alumni of every class save New Market; to the left were thirty members of Garland-Rodes Camp of Confederate Veterans, Lynchburg, under Dr. C. B. Fleet, all in uniforms.

When those old New Market boys came marching into the hall, with their old commander, General Scott Shipp, at their head, there was a demonstration of applause that threatened to take off the roof. Men and women arose to their feet, and cheering, stamping and waving of handerchiefs evidenced the enthusiasm of the assemblage.

Greeting to Shipp.

The old boys had formed in the quadrangle, and it would hardly be an exaggeration to say that the wild cheering which greeted General Shipp when he walked through the sally-port and advanced across the green to the head of the column was followed by half the men in ranks rushing forward to seize the hand of their old commander, and nearly all of them ended by throwing their arms around him.

The shot-torn flag which the battalion carried at New Market was the decoration of the rostrum. There was a great deal of bunting displayed over the speakers' chairs, and there were great masses of flowers banked on the front of the stage, but I had not observed any of these until my attention was called to them, so busy was I gazing at the old New Market ensign. But there was a profusion of stars and stripes on the walls behind the speakers.

Mr. Joseph R. Anderson, class 70, president of the Alumni Association, called the meeting to order and introduced Rev. Charles C. Randolph, of Fincastle, a New Market man, who made an impressive prayer.

Mr. Armistead C. Gordon, of Staunton, a cadet of some class since New Market, then read in most effective manner his beautiful ode.

There was prolonged applause at the conclusion of the reading of the ode, and the band played ‘In the Sweet Bye and Bye.’

Dr. Upshur's address.

The oration of Dr. J. N. Upshur, of Richmond, followed the reading of Mr. Gordon's ode. Dr. Upshur's address, of less than an hour in length, was cheered every time a pause occurred long enough [175] to allow any demonstration of approval. Occasionally the speaker would indulge in flights of oratory, but generally the address was in plain language—the story of New Market and of the Institute in the days of ‘61-65. There was applause long drawn out at the conclusion of Dr. Upshur's address, and the band played ‘Dixie.’

Then Hon. Holes Conrad was presented and spoke for an hour. In a general way his speech was along the lines pursued by Dr. Upshur, but he stuck to the official reports of the commanders on both sides in the battle. The last half hour of the speech was devoted to a comparison of leaders of the North and the South, along the lines of an address delivered in Lee Camp Hall in Richmond a year or two ago.

Great applause followed the close of Major Conrad's address.

Monument unveiled.

Everybody then went to the parade grounds, where the battle monument was unveiled. The exercises were severely simple. The captains of the four cadet companies pulled the cords that released the veiling and disclosed to the spectators the beautiful monument— Virginia mourning her dead.

The cadets fired an artillery salute, the infantry boys saluted with rifles, the old boys cheered for the moment, for New Market, and the V. M. I., and then everybody went to dinner.

Alumni meeting.

The old boys were slow in reassembling in the hall for the annual session of the Alumni Association, but at 4 o'clock the hall was filled, the place of honor, as in the morning, being given the New Market men, in the centre block.

Captain J. R. Anderson, Jr., president of the Alumni Association, called the meeting to order, and then had Mr. Alexander Hamilton, president of the Board of Visitors, take the chair. M. H. Crump, of Kentucky, class of 93, was made secretary. Mr. Hamilton briefly expressed the gratification of the board at the remarkably large attendance of old cadets, and said he could not foresee any time when so many would again be together.

Colonel W. E. Cutshaw, of Richmond, came forward to offer certain resolutions, after a resolution of thanks to Captain Anderson for his services as alumni president had been adopted amid tremendous applause.


New Market crosses.

The resolutions offered by Colonel Cutshaw, after reciting the honor conferred upon the Institute by the cadets at New Market, provided for the appropriation of a necessary sum for the purchase of crosses of suitable material, to be presented to every member of the New Market battalion. Each cross is to bear the name of the recipient, and a cross is also to be sent the family of each man who fell in battle, or who has died since he took part in the fight.

Colonel Cutshaw, speaking to the resolutions, said he felt it was peculiarly appropriate that he should offer them, in that in 1863, while recovering from wounds received in battle, he was commandant of cadets, and he put them through some months of hard work on the parade ground and in camp, which fitted them well for the New Market ordeal.

General T. T. Munford, of Lynchburg, an old cadet, though not in the New Market battalion, made an eloquent speech endorsing the resolutions.

There were loud calls for ‘Purcell,’ and Colonel John B. Purcell, of Richmond, an Institute man, though not at New Market, but one who wore the Confederate gray when only fourteen years of age, made a speech full of tender eloquence in advocating the resolutions.

General G. C. Wharton, class of 47, and a brigade commander at New Market, spoke a few words urging the adoption of the resolutions, and saying that if he could make a speech he would speak at length asking their passage.

Captain Henry A. Wise was called upon. He was an assistant professor in ‘64, and when Colonel Shipp fell at New Market, commanded the battalion. He made a beautiful speech in thanking the Association for what it proposed to do.

Captain John S. Wise.

Then John S. Wise spoke. He received tremendous applause as he came forward, and his old comrades made him go on the platform. In his own inimitable way he recalled the story of New Market, and he kept his hearers in a roar of laughter recalling humorous incidents of the old days. He closed with a peroration whose eloquence and pathos brought tears to many eyes.

“We are grandfathers on the ground where we were boys,” he [177] said, ‘we are veterans in precincts where we thought a man of thirty old.’

A more eloquent tribute has seldom been paid the Institute than that paid by Mr. Wise. There was no such applause in the entire day as that which followed the conclusion of Mr. Wise's speech. As he came down the aisle to his seat he had to pause many times to shake the hands of his old comrades who crowded around him, the tears coming down the cheeks of many of them.

Colonel E. W. Nichol, treasurer of the New Market monument fund, made his report, which showed that the monument was paid for and that there was a small balance on hand.

Captain S. B. Walker, secretary and treasurer of the Alumni Association, read his annual report, showing a balance of fifty-odd dollars on hand. The report was adopted, and then Captain Walker suggested that the alumni, exclusive of the New Market Battalion, present the crosses, and also that the association be photographed in a body.

The Chair announced the following committee to arrange for the purchase of the crosses: Joseph R. Anderson, W. E. Cutshaw and John B. Purcell.

After some discussion it was agreed that the cost of the crosses should be met by voluntary contributions.

On motion of Colonel Purcell, the class of 1903 was elected to membership in the association.

Mr. Anderson read a letter received from Dr. George W. Williams, of Farmington, Mo., class of 43, regretting that he could not be present, and also one from his wife, asking that some loving message be sent him, as he is now eighty-four years old and too feeble to attend the reunion. He is thought to be the oldest living cadet. A committee was directed to write a suitable letter to Dr. Williams and his wife.

In response to the motion of Dr. Upshur, the New Market survivors decided to send their autographs to Ezekiel, the sculptor. This action was taken at the request of Mrs. Brauer, of Richmond, sister of the sculptor.

The old officers of the association, J. R. Anderson, president, and S. B. Walker, secretary, were unanimously re-elected.

Banquet and hop.

The alumni banquet to-night and the hop were much enjoyed. Girls from all over Virginia were at the dance, and the speakers at [178] the banquet included some of the best-known men in this country. To-morrow is commencement day proper. Great regret is felt here that Governor Montague will not be here. Lieutenant-Governor Willard is representing him in a thoroughly satisfactory way. He and many of the alumni of Richmond arrived on a special train this morning. Mr. Willard received at General Shipp's this afternoon.

And this brings me to the social features of the reunion. Everybody has open house this week. To those who knew Lexington, despite John Wise's ‘Presbyterian Lexington,’ will convey a picture of the warmest hospitality. The laymen cannot criticise the sham battle. It was a fine spectacle to see the battalion in action on the parade ground and the hillside in front of the barracks. When it was ended and the shades of night were falling as the sun sank behind House Mountain, the New Market battalion formed and marched to the western end of the grounds, where lie the men who fell at New Market. There each one laid a flower on the grave of each of the boys who sleep in the soil of Lexington. It was a fitting end of the day's ceremonies.

State cadets.

The Board of Visitors announced to-day the following appointments to State cadetships: J. M. Smith, Pocahontas; C. G. Paul, Harrisonburg; L. W. Sydnor, Staunton; J. R. Taylor, Fredericksburg; M. Campbell, Amherst; H. E. McCreedy, Roanoke; J. P. Wilkinson, Nebletts Van, Lunenburg county; W. P. Tate, Pulaski; R. C. Barrett, Smithfield; G. M. Harrison, Fredericksburg; H. F. Carr, Newport News; H. A. Tabb, Gloucester county. Cadets at large—Irving Boaz, Albemarle; T. H. Roseter, Norfolk; W. A. Dunlap, Roanoke; Julian Major, Mitchells.

Dr. Upshur's address.

Dr. J. N. Upshur, of Richmond, who was himself a member of the Boys' Battalion, and took part in the New Market fight, made a most eloquent address on the battle. He depicted the heroism of the cadets who fought and those who died for their country, and urged those whom he addressed to take an inspiration from the monument which they dedicated to their memory. Dr. Upshur said: [179]

Comrades and Friends:

This is a day long to be remembered in the history of this school of soldiers. We have assembled to do homage to that battalion of young soldiers who more than a generation ago received their baptism of fire and won immortal glory upon the memorable field at New Market. The first and only time in history, I believe, when in solid phalanx, undaunted and invincible as a battalion, testimony was borne to the discipline and training of any military school.

This school had many representatives in the grand armies of the lost cause, who, by their daring and efficiency, shed lustre upon their alma mater, and ‘slain in battle’ is the epitaph that consecrates no less than 125 names. When the struggle was over, and the warrior's banner took its flight to greet the warrior's soul, and peace again assumed its sway, we, the actors in that battle, separated to take up the struggle in the battle of life, with varying fortune of success and failure, some to distinction in the several professions and callings in life, and some less conspicuous in fulfilling faithfully the duty of daily round and common task. And of that band, one gifted in art, and though a sojourner in a foreign land, no less a Virginian and loyal to his State, animated by love for his alma mater and pride in the achievements of that glorious corps, on that memorable 15th of May, has created in living bronze ‘Virginia Mourning Her Dead,’ and out of a loving and generous heart donated it as memorial of those comrades who fought, and those who died in defense of right. As one of that band I am here to-day, honored beyond my deserving, to tell to you the simple story of the battle of New Market, to speak of the march and bivouac, the heroism and self-denial of my comrades in arms, and to light anew the flame of patriotism and devotion, as I recall the memories of the time which tried men's souls, and inspired the youth, who, while drinking at the fount of knowledge, within these walls, yet were thrilled by the noble deeds of their countrymen. In whose veins, pulsing the blood of noble sires, they dared to demonstrate that they were worthy sons. On the altars of their hearts brightly burned the fires of patriotism, and their slogan, ‘it is noble to die for one's country.’ Such was the spirit that animated the corps in the spring of 1864.


As on dress parade.

A sharp artillery duel had been in progress for some time, when the line of battle was ordered to advance. Passing up the slope of the second hill, as we reached the crest, the enemy had gotten our range and the first casualties occurred, four or five men being wounded by the bursting of a shell, one of them being Captain Hill, of Company C. The line now pressed forward, the battalion being as beautifully aligned as if on dress parade. The ground here was an open field, level or rising slightly to the north. When half way across this field a sharp musketry fire opened on our left in addition to the artillery fire, and a shrapnel shot exploding killed three members of D Company-Cabell, Jones and Crockett. Just at this point the wings of the battalion became advanced beyond the center, causing a curve in the line. The cadets marked time, the line was straightened and, dressing on the center, advanced in as perfect order as if on dress parade. On the northern border of this field and to our front stood Bushong's house, beyond which was an apple orchard. The enemy had slowly fallen back and taken up a third position several hundred yards beyond this house. On reaching the house the ranks divided. A and B companies passing to the right of the house and C and D companies to the left, A and D marking time until the other half came up and the line was reformed. The fire at this point was terrific, both musketry and from the battery to our left, double shotted with cannister. Passing beyond the house, the battalion laid down for a short time on the northern border of the orchard, when the order, “Forward!” was given, and when about half way between this point and the guns, occurred the heaviest casualties of the day, the sufferers being the cadets and the 62nd Virginia, under Colonel Smith, immediately on the cadet left. It was at this point that Colonel Shipp was wounded and Captain Henry A. Wise took command. Up to this time the cadets had not fired a shot. At this juncture the Federal cavalry was seen about to charge the line, squadron front. Breckinridge appreciating the situation, ordered the guns, double shotted with cannister, to be turned on them. They were routed with great loss, only a few reaching our lines, and they as prisoners.


Brilliant dash.

Wharton's men seemed to have melted away under the terrific fire, leaving a gap in the line and producing some disorder, falling back they reformed behind the cadets. Captain Wise ordered the cadet battalion to advance to fill this gap and a brilliant dash forward, gallantly seconded by the 62d Virginia, and the battery was captured. During the progress of the events just related, Imboden had discovered General Stahl with 2,500 cavalry massed in squadron-front close order. He asked permission of General Breckinridge to allow him to uncover his right flank for a short time, in an effort to turn Sigel's left, which he thought he could accomplish. Receiving the desired order, in less than fifteen minutes he had gained a position behind a low hill unobserved by the enemy; six guns were ordered at a gallop to the crest of the hill, unlimbered and fired as fast as possible into the massed cavalry. The effect was immediate and terrific. The Federal guns, captured by the cadets a little later, turned their fire in that direction to silence Imboden's guns, an enfilading fire from which aided materially the cadets and the 62d in the capture of the Federal guns. Meanwhile the 34th Massachusetts, which was composed of seasoned veterans, and which had been immediately to the left of the cadets, falling back into a clump of cedars, was hotly engaged with Edgar's battalion, when Captain Wise moved the cadets on their flank, and they broke and ran. Breckinridge halted his line to replenish ammunition before advancing on Rude's hill, about two miles below New Market, where Siegel made a final stand, and from which point he was using his guns. But he did not await the Confederate coming, but hastily retreated across the Shenandoah, burning the bridge after him, and the battle was won.

Impressive scene.

In an address on Breckinridge, General Echols said:

‘Earth has never witnessed a more impressive scene than presented by those boys as they moved unflinchingly forward under fire. The most interesting recollections of that day centre around the part borne in the struggle by that battalion of boys, who so promptly responded to the call made on them for service, and who by their noble bearing contributed so greatly to the victory that was won. With a spirit of patriotism, bright and strong with youthful [182] ardor nothing could quench, with matchless courage, they sprang forward at the call of their State and country in a time of need, anxious to show that the training they had received and the tender care which had been bestowed on them had not been in vain, but that they were willing and ready to repay all this with their blood and their lives. They never doubted, never faltered, but insisted, when their prudent general suggested that they should not be exposed, that they should be allowed a place in the forefront of battle, that they too might participate in the glories of the victory which they were assured would be won.’

And with ambitious feet, secure and proud,
Ascend the ladder, leaning on the cloud.

It has been beautifully said of them, how could they have achieved in a long life a fame more noble and more pure, than that which now glorifies their names. Proud as the laurel or bay around the head of the warrior or the poet, but amarinthine, like that of God's martyrs, is the crown that liberty places upon the brows, flushed with immortal youth, of these her boy defenders, who offered their virgin lives upon her altars.

An inspiration.

To you, my young cadets, let this monument ever be an inspiration to noble deeds; many of that battalion have had representatives among you, and standing in your ranks to-day are the sons of some of us. To have been trained within these walls should be an inspiration to your life work, indissolubly connected as they are with the fame of Stonewall Jackson, and with the example of devotion to duty, heroism and courage of that war battalion, of which you are constantly reminded by this memorial, which to-day we have dedicated to virtue and valor. Besides, under the shadow of these eternal hills sleeps Robert E. Lee, the knightliest chevalier of them all, the Christian hero and model soldier and citizen. You can have no higher human model. And now my task of love is done. ‘With fate for oarsmen, my comrades, our dissimilar lives have crossed some waves of time in company,’ and then we parted. And now for the space of a generation we have not clasped hands or seen each other face to face until in the performance of a holy duty, many of us who are still spared have met again under the roof tree of our alma mater, no longer in the vigor of youth, but most of us approaching the evening of life. Perchance we part here now not to meet [183] again while time shall last, but it is my prayer for one and all, that when the final long roll shall sound, we may all respond on the farther side of the river, and with the Great Commander rest under the shade of the trees.

Mr. Gordon's poem—a beautiful Threnody read by the author.

The following Threnody, written by Mr. Armistead C. Gordon, of Staunton, was read by the author:

How shall the eternal fame of them be told,
     Who, dying in the heyday of life's morn,
Thrust from their lips the chalice of bright gold,
     Filled to the brim with joy, and went forlorn
Into the abysmal darkness of that bourne,
     Whence they who thither go may nevermore return?

The circling seasons pass in old progression
     Of beauty and of immortality;
The ancient stars march on in far procession;
     And immemorial winds sweep o'er the sea;
The mountains drop their wine; the flowers bloom;
     While these, who should have lived, sleep in an early tomb.

No blight had touched the garlands that they wore,
     Dewy and fresh with innocence and ruth;
No dead illusions or spent glamours bore
     With heaviness upon them. Their gay youth
Caught but the bubbles on the beaker's brim,
     Nor e'er beheld life's lees with eyes grown old and dim.

Were they in love with death's forgetfulness
     Thus to lie down with the enduring dead?
Had wood and stream lost all their loveliness,
     Or morning's sunshine faded overhead,
That they sought surcease of life's sorrows there,
     Leaving wan Love to weep o'er boyhood's sunny hair?

All the old questionings rise to our lips
     In the sad contemplation of Youth slain;
Life's hidden meaning, and Death's dark eclipse—
     The passion and the pathos and the pain;
The unanswering answer that the wisest reads
     In the grim mystery that hangs behind the creeds.

[184] And yet—and yet—we old, whose heads are gray,
     Whose hearts are heavy, and whose steps are slow
With journeying on this rough and thorny way,
     We, who live after them, what may we know
Of their ecstatic rapture thus to have died,
     The marvellous, sleepless souls that perished in their pride?

If the worn hearts and weary fall on sleep
     With a deep longing for its sweet repose,
Shall not they, likewise, whom the high Gods keep,
     Die while yet bloom the lily and the rose?
To each man living comes a day to die;
     What better day than when Truth calls to Liberty?

Writ in the rocks of the world's primeval page
     Is old past human skill to interpret it,
Save where it speaks to grief of man's gray age,
     And with the end of all things is o'erwrit:—
All things save one, that hath unfading youth
     And strength and power and beauty-clear-eyed Truth.

On mountain—top—in valley—by the sea,
     Wherever sleep the patriots who have died
In her high honor—at Thermopylae,
     At Bannockburn—or where great rivers glide,
To the wide ocean bordering our own shore,
     Truth sees the holy face of Freedom evermore!

The blood—stained face of Freedom, that hath wrought
     For man a magic and a mystery;
Whose bright blade, e'en when broken, yet hath bought
     A grave with the eternal for the free.
Freedom and Truth, these went beside them there,
     Marching to deathless death, forever young and fair.

‘Send the Cadets in! and may God forgive!’
     Who spake the word had welcomed rather death.
But Truth dies not, and Liberty shall live,
     E'en though Youth wither in the cannon's breath,
And at the order, debonnair and gay,
     They moved into the front of an immortal day.

[185] ‘Battalion forward!’ rang the sharp command;
     ‘Guide center!’ and the banner was unfurled.
Then, as if on parade, the little band
     Dressed to the flag. A sad and sombre world
Thrills with the memory of how they went
     Into that raging storm of fire and carnage bent.

A worn and weary world in sorrow weeps
     For high hopes vanished at life's sunny morn;
Yet Truth with eyes that never falter, keeps
     Her gaze on Freedom's face, that smiles in scorn
Of death for them who wear the laureled crown—
     The early dead, who die with an achieved renown.

Creeds fade; faiths perish; empires rise and fall;
     And as the shining sun goes on his way,
Oblivion covers with a dusty pall
     The life of man, predestined to decay.
Yet is there one thing that shall never die;
     The memory of the Dead for Truth and Liberty.

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