Funeral of Gen. Robert E. Lee, October 1870

VMI Cadet Petition to Serve as Honor Guard

Below is a transcription of a request submitted by Virginia Military Institute cadets to VMI's Superintendent Francis H. Smith to serve as honor guard after death of General Robert E. Lee.

V.M. Institute
October 14, 1870

Robert E. Lee photoWe the undersigned cadets respectfully apply for permission to be absent from Barracks from 7 P.M. today until 8 A.M. tomorrow, as their services have been kindly accepted by the Chief Marshall at Washington College to sit up with the remains of General Robert E. Lee tonight.

Respectfully Submitted by Cadets Hamilton, Alex.; Morgan, J.H.; Hawkins, N.D. Taylor, S.M.; Taylor, Z.; Sullivan, A.R.; Nalle, Wm.; Murrell, W.H.; Harrison, N.M.; Farrar, Walton.

Cadet William Nalle Letter
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On October 16, 1870 from Cadet William Nalle wrote to his mother, Mrs. Thomas Botts Nalle. describing the death and funeral of General Robert E. Lee. Nalle discusses mourning activities at VMI, Washington College, and Lexington; standing guard over Lee's body with other cadets; and the funeral procession.

An excerpt is below.  The complete document is available online.

...I suppose of course that you have all read full accounts of Gen Lee's death in the papers. He died on the morning of the 12th at about half past nine. All business was suspended at once all over the country and town, and all duties, military and academic suspended at the Institute, and all the black crape and all similar black material in Lexington, was used up at once, and they had to send on to Lynchburg for more. Every cadet had black crape issued to him, and an order was published at once requiring us to wear it as a badge of mourning for six months. The battalion flag has heavily draped in black, and is to stay so for the next six months. The Institute has been hung all around with black. The College buildings were also almost covered with black. All the churches and in fact the town looked as if they had been trying to cover everything with festoons of black cambric, and every sort of black could be procured...."