21 Members of the 1st Virginia Infantry converged from Arizona, Colorado, Maryland and Virginia for the 145th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of New Market, the famed Shenandoah Valley action of the Civil War in which the young cadets of the Virginia Military Institute gallantly distinguished themselves in a successful charge against an enemy battery, a charge which tipped the scales to victory.

The 145th anniversary event included street fighting in the town of New Market on Friday, a swirling battlefield scenario on Saturday and then on Sunday the highlight of the event - the reenactment of the Battle of New Market, which took place on the actual historic battlefield and flowed through the very fields, pastures and orchards and swirled around the very same buildings of the historic Bushong Farm - just as in 1864.

Camp experiences including a prayer meeting and hymn singing helped remind all of real lives and real life.

A fine time was had by all and we look forward to our next event in Virginia.






























































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Musical Note

At one point during the New Market reenactment we advanced quickly through a part of the Bushong Farm "capturing" a number of federals including a brass band who being good sports and fine fellows who knew how to adapt and play their roles well, quickly "galvanized", formed up immediately to our rear and began playing "Dixie", thus the theme song of this page.








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Another letter has surfaced from Private Christopher of the 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry, one detailing the Battle of New Market in May 1864. This letter appeared in the Williamsburg Star a few weeks later. We note here the soldier did not write expressly for publication, as was his common practice, but for family. His brother, still running the paper in Christopher's absence, no doubt felt compelled to run the letter anyway as was the practice with many letters from both the Union and Confederate forces.

New Market --
May 17, 1864

My Dearest Family, loyal supporters in our cause,

I write to you with great relief and joy, as our Confederate brethren have once again demonstrated their superiority against the aggressors of the north. The hand of THE LORD was surely with us on this day, as the victory was sealed by the Corps of Cadets from our Virginia Military Institute.

Our commanders dispatched us to battle upon hearing General Sigel had advanced into the Shenandoah. As the day of Battle arrived we took our places, positioned initially behind a row of artillery. Hundreds of men stood shoulder to shoulder in several battalions awaiting the order to advance as we saw a line of Federal skirmishers in the fields of tall green grass below the ridge.

"Now that's a beautiful sight," a compatriot remarked to me as we marveled at the line of cannons pointed towards the enemy. However, it was not as beautiful as the thunderous booms as they fired one at a time along the lines, peppered with rebel yells from the ranks. I do believe we greeted the yanks with appropriate hospitality.

In a moment of inspiration, our commander offered a song to rally our company, not the "The Bonnie Blue Flag," but something else. "I'd like us to sing the Doxology" he said.

"Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him, all creatures here below!
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host!
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!"

Our voices sang in perfect unison with not a sour note among us. We sang as bravely as we fought, proclaiming our Ultimate Allegiance, and the troops surrounding us hushed in reverent silence. Tears welled in eyes.

Minutes later the sergeant told us to keep the column tight as we advanced on the double-quick through the mud of last night's rain to meet the enemy. I am glad we did not trip over one another as we sprinted in our full gear to form line of battle in the field beyond, yelling all the way. Before any chance to catch our breaths, we heard the orders to load and fire, and our battalion was enveloped in volley after volley amongst the shouting of the officers. Soon, our commanders shouted, "Independent company fire!" and our captain ordered us to fire at will.

The shouting of the Colonel and wing commanders, echoed by the company Captains grew as loud as the firing itself. I could barely make out the line of Federals in the distance between the calls to load and fire. I stood crowded in my place in the rear rank amid staggered files and struggled to take aim in the midst of smoke and noise. The Sergeant Major somehow found time to critique my technique. "Make sure you're coming back to a 'T' so you can get that second band through!" one barked to me, referring to the necessary foot posture when firing over the first rank's shoulder. At the moment, I had not been overly concerned with my feet, or with any letter of the alphabet save for one: 'D', as in death to tyrants. Sic semper tyrannis!

We advanced towards the Bushong farmhouse, chasing the Yanks bank. We met another line of them across a yard near the barn, on the other side of a picket fence, and our ranks formed up again. The zing of musket balls echoed with terrifying volume from the sides of the building as we exchanged fire once more, loading and firing with building fervor.

"Are you all right, Private Christopher?" our captain called.

"Yes!" I reiterated, not giving any hint of distress, determined to carry on in spite of the difficulties before us.

We kept pushing the Yankees back, watching them appear before us and then duck back without warning, even though their numbers suggested they could weather several of our volleys. I later heard a Federal fife and drummer separated from their company only to fall directly into the sights of our advancing line. They quickly began playing "Dixie" with wide smiles upon their faces, and the attempt at appeasement did not go unappreciated. The aggressors managed to pick off a couple of our company, who crumpled wounded to the ground only to be rousted again to the line by the urging of our captain and the fervor of their will.

Having chased the bluebellies out of the farm, their lines fell back into a dip beyond a split rail fence. Here we formed again, the front rank kneeling, taking advantage of the modest protection offered by the low fence. I struggled to find enough elbow room to crouch and fire. "Let him through!" the captain shouted. I pushed my way into position and awkwardly loaded from my knees as the Federals fired at us through the tall grass. We needed only a couple of volleys to push them further back, upon their artillery.

By this time, the dozens of shots had nearly depleted my cartridge supply. Six shots remained.

"I'm out, Captain!" a fellow soldier shouted.

My compatriots were down to their last rolls of powder, digging into the boxes of others to resupply themselves or taking ammunition from the fallen. Our commander ordered us to make sure we had enough for one more volley. We would have to make sure every shot counted.

We prepared to push the Yanks back again, but as we loaded once more, we received the order to halt. The VMI Cadets, who had marched more than 80 miles to this point and were the last reserve and resort of Gen. Breckinridge, took the fight to the retreating enemy, overrunning a key artillery battery and creating a panic which broke the demoralized enemy and sent them fleeing.

The victory left us heartened at the righteousness of our cause, and our officers noted our bravery and tenaciousness. "You boys looked darned good today," one told us as we stood in formation after the yanks had fled.

I continued to marvel at the courage of the cadets, and how they possessed more than I shall ever have in their storehouses of youth, strength, courage, and bravery. I had the honor of meeting two of them the day before this battle, and I am reassured our country's future armies will be led by capable and competent hands.

I look toward the day when I shall rejoin you once again in Williamsburg, and in this victory we pray that day might soon arrive.

Your Servant In The Cause,
Pvt. Christopher
1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry




























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