VMI's Oldest Operating Cadet Organization - The Cadet Battery
LEXINGTON, Va., November 10, 2021—Few things on post are as powerful as hearing the roar of the Cadet Battery, a group of guns fired by a team of cadets of the same name.
The Cadet Battery has existed since 1848, except for a small period between the end of the Civil War and 1875, making it the oldest operating organization at VMI beyond the Corps itself.
“The original Cadet Battery consisted of six guns made especially for VMI in 1848, four 6-pounders (the “Four Gospels”) and two 12-pounders,” Charles Telford ’22 explained. “The equipment has evolved quite a bit, but the original guns can still be seen on post in front of Old Barracks.”
Today, the Cadet Battery does not participate in real fire drills or tactics. Instead, they are used for retreat firings at the end of the day to salute the colors, in salute parades, and to support Breakout.
“The guns we fire today are M2A1 (later M101A1) 105mm howitzers,” Nicholas Campbell ’22, cadet in charge of the Battery, stated. “We have five of them, four named after the original Cadet Battery guns (Matthew II, Mark II, Luke II, and John II), and our Evening Gun, nicknamed Paul.”
The Cadet Battery takes training and safety incredibly seriously. Each cadet who is part of the crew is trained to take apart, clean, and reassemble the cannons, and they are also taught crew positions and operations.
“Following that,” Conor Mason ’22 and Zackery Albertson ’22 added, “we teach them the importance of safety, particularly handling the ammunition and our surface danger zones. This whole process is overseen by Army or Marine Corps artillerymen to ensure we don’t teach anything incorrectly, but ultimately cadets do the instruction. While we all have fun working on the gun, safety is something we take very seriously.”
Those in the Lexington community may have noticed that the Evening Gun, typically shot everyday except Sunday during the academic year, has been quiet. This has been due to the nationwide shortage of ammunition. Cadet leadership and commandant staff hope supplies are available soon to bring back that daily sound that can be heard for miles.
Fortunately, ammunition was secured for Founders Day, and the Cadet Battery is very excited to fire the guns again for the occasion. Pulling the cord to fire the guns never gets old and is a “very satisfying and exhilarating experience,” Mason and Albertson stated.
The Cadet Battery is proud to perform their duties and uphold the history and tradition of the Battery.
“We carry that history with us in every shot we fire, and we’re proud to do it!” Campbell said.
VMI Photos by Kelly Nye
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