Civil War Timeline VMI

New Market Painting detail

Chronology of Significant Events

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  • 1859 November
    A contingent of the Corps was dispatched to Charles Town following John Brown's raid on the Harper's Ferry arsenal. Cadets stood guard at Brown's execution on December 2. 
  • 1861 April
    The Corps was sent to Richmond, where cadets drilled Confederate army recruits. The commanding officer during this trip was Major Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson, who had joined VMI's faculty in 1851 as professor of natural and experimental philosophy and instructor of artillery. Jackson accepted a commission and left for active duty soon after the Corps arrived in Richmond.
  • 1861 July 4
    The Class of 1861 was graduated as of this date.
  • 1861 December 6
    The Class of 1862 was graduated as of this date.
  • 1862 January 1
    The Institute reopened in Lexington. Cadets who would have been First Classmen had graduated early and were already serving in the military.
  • 1862 May
    The Corps was ordered to aid General Jackson's forces during the McDowell campaign. The cadets, commanded by Scott Shipp, marched in pursuit of Federal troops but were not engaged in battle.
  • 1863 May
    General Stonewall Jackson died on May 10 from wounds received at the Battle of Chancellorsville, and his body was returned to Lexington for burial.
  • 1863 August-December
    The Corps was called into the field to defend against the raids of General William Averell, but were not engaged in battle.
  • 1864 May 15
    The Battle of New Market.   The Corps, again under the command of Scott Shipp, marched into battle along with General John C. Breckinridge's forces against Federal troops led by General Franz Sigel. Ten cadets were mortally wounded.
  • 1864 June 11
    Federal troops, under the command of General David Hunter, entered Lexington. The Corps retreated to a camp in the Blue Ridge near Balcony Falls. VMI was burned the next day by Hunter's soldiers. On June 25 the Corps returned to Lexington, only to be furloughed two days later.
  • 1864 October 1
    Corps assembled at Camp Lee, near Richmond, VA. Engaged in military duties in trenches around Richmond, but no academic work took place.
  • 1864 October 27
    Corps encamped at Poe's Farm as infantry support for nearby battery; comprised part of the Confederate Forces of the Department of Richmond.
  • 1864 December 12
    Moved from Poe's Farm to Alms House, Richmond; some cadets granted 10 day furlough to procure clothing and supplies.
  • 1864 December 28
    Academic work resumed at the Alms House in Richmond, VMI's temporary headquarters.
  • 1864 March 11 - April 1
    Cadets called to man portions of Richmond defensive lines.
  • 1865 April  Corps disbanded on April 2 at the Alms House, on eve of evacuation of Richmond by Confederate Forces; each cadet found his way home or elsewhere as best he could. A considerable number of them followed the canal to Columbia, Fluvanna County, and dispersed there. Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 9.
  • 1865 October 17
    VMI reopened in Lexington. Academic work resumed just 6 months after the end of the war.

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