Author: Jennifer R. Green

an associate professor of history at Central Michigan University. She is author of Military Education and the Emerging Middle Class in the Old South (2008), From West Point to the Virginia Military Institute: The Educational Life of Stonewall Jackson" in Virginia Cavalcade (Summer 2000)"
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Virginia Military Institute during the Civil War

The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is a state-funded military academy founded in 1839. Located in the Shenandoah Valley town of Lexington, it was only the second governmental military academy in the United States, after the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York (founded in 1802), and represented increased educational opportunity for non-elite southern men. Future Confederate generals Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and John McCausland were VMI instructors during John Brown‘s raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry in 1859, and they led cadets to his execution in Charles Town, where they helped to provide security. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), approximately 1,800 VMI graduates served (including 19 in the U.S. Army), with about 250 of them killed in action. Cadets famously were called to fight in the Battle of New Market, contributing to the Confederate victory on May 15, 1864. In June, Union general David Hunter ordered the school burned, and the cadets relocated to Richmond, where they helped to defend the Confederate capital.

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