Showing posts with label VMI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VMI. Show all posts

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, July 26, 1864

Fessenden has got out an advertisement for a new loan and an address to the people in its behalf. Am not certain that the latter is judicious. Capitalists will not as a general thing loan or invest for patriotism, but for good returns. The advertisement gives high interest, but accompanied by the appeal will excite doubt, rather than inspire confidence among the money-lenders. I am inclined to think he will get funds, for his plan is sensible and much wiser than anything of his predecessor. The idea with Chase seemed to be to pay low interest in money but high prices in irredeemable paper, a scheme that might have temporary success in getting friends and popularity with speculators but is ruinous to the country. The errors of Chase in this respect Mr. Fessenden seems inclined to correct, but other measures are wanted and I trust we shall have them.

Only Bates, Usher, and myself were at the Cabinet to day. Stanton sent over to inquire if his attendance was necessary.

There are rumors that the retreating Rebels have turned upon our troops in the valley, and that our forces, badly weakened by the withdrawal of the Sixth Army Corps, are retreating towards Harper's Ferry. This is not improbable. They may have been strengthened as our forces were weakened.

Rode out this evening, accompanied by Mrs. Welles, and spent an hour with the President and Mrs. Lincoln at the Soldiers' Home.

The papers contain a letter from Governor Letcher stating that General Hunter gave the order for burning his (L.'s) house. I shall wish to hear from H. before believing that he could give such an order, and yet I confess I am not without apprehensions, for Hunter is not always possessed of so much prudence as one should have who holds so responsible a position. The burning of the Institute at the same place and time was not creditable to the army, and if there is any justification or ameliorating circumstances, they should be made to appear. The crude and indefensible notions of some of our people, however, are not general. Indiscriminate warfare on all in the insurrectionary region is not general, and few would destroy private property wantonly.

The New York papers are engaged in a covert and systematic attack on the Navy Department, — covert so far as the Republican or Administration press is concerned. Greeley of the Tribune is secretly hostile to the President and assails him indirectly in this way; so of the Evening Post, a paper hitherto friendly but whose publisher is under bail for embezzlement and fraud which the Navy Department would not conceal. The Times is a profligate Seward and Weed organ, wholly unreliable and in these matters regardless of truth or principle. It supports the President because it is the present policy of Seward. The principal editor, Raymond, is an unscrupulous soldier of fortune, yet recently appointed Chairman of the Republican National Executive Committee. He and some of his colleagues are not to be trusted, yet these political vagabonds are the managers of the party organization. His paper, as well as others, are in a combination with Norman Wiard and pretenders like him against the monitors. Let the poor devils work at that question. The people will not be duped or misled to any great extent by them.

There are demonstrations for a new raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania. I told the President I trusted there would be some energy and decision in getting behind them, cutting them off, and not permitting them to go back, instead of a scare and getting forces to drive them back with their plunder. He said those were precisely his views and he had just been to see and say as much to Halleck. I inquired how H. responded to the suggestion. The President said he was considering it, and was now wanting to ascertain where they had crossed the Potomac and the direction they had taken.

I apprehend it is not a large force, but a cavalry raid, which will move rapidly and create alarm. Likely they will go into the Cumberland Valley and then west, for they will scarcely take the old route to return. But these are crude speculations of mine. I get nothing from Halleck, and I doubt if he has any plan, purpose, or suggestion. Before he will come to a conclusion the raiders will have passed beyond his reach.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 86-8

Friday, October 30, 2020

George Mason Graham to Dr. S. A. Smith, January 21, 1860

ALEXANDRIA, Jan. 21, 1860.

DEAR DOCTOR: . . . I endorse you, herewith, a draft of an act for making the Seminary a Military Academy by law, and I hope the reflections of your mind will bring you to the conclusion to support it. Look at the immense sum, $1,500,000, expended by the state in educational efforts; and where are the results? Not a vestige of them remains for any useful purpose. Look at the youth of the state, and the low grade of education pervading it. Look at the lethargy of the parents in regard to the education of their sons, and the reluctance of the sons to submit to control or guidance either at home or at school. The superintendent told me that already a very insubordinate . . . disappointment is manifested by several of the boys. The Academic Board has no power to punish in case of any difficulty; a meeting of the Board of Supervisors can hardly be obtained before next spring. The state must lend the whole aid of its power and influence to enable the institution to exercise a beneficial control. This can only be done by a military government — this makes the young men themselves a part of the power for governing themselves that soon becomes attractive and works better than any other system of college government. But the boys themselves will be very quick to perceive the difference between a system established by a gentleman and one established by a legislature authorizing with the little pomp and circumstance of military parade in music, colors, etc. The people of the state will be brought to take an interest in it that they never will take in any other kind of school or college. This I witnessed at Lexington, Va., in July, 1857, when six hundred people, come to witness the “commencement” of the Virginia Military Institute, dined at one of the hotels of the place.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 133-4

Report of the Board of Supervisors the Louisiana State Seminary, January 1860


. . . The Board of Supervisors has adopted every means in its power, by the publication and circulation of circulars, newspaper articles, individual correspondence, etc., to disseminate information in regard to the institution, through the State. . . It will take some time to make it generally known, but the Board feels every confidence that when the people of the state shall become aware of the character of the able, upright, enlightened, patriotic, and in every respect most admirably qualified corps of professors, which it has had the good fortune to combine in an Academic Board for this institution; and with the order, regularity, method, neatness, sobriety, habits of study ensured by the military system of government, any harshness, in which it will be the constant study and aim of each and every instructor to temper with parental care and kindness; that then the institution will be filled to its utmost capacity with the high spirited and emulous youth of the state. The Board from its first organization, was deeply impressed with the necessity, and with an earnest anxiety to find some means of avoiding, for this school, the fate of every other previous effort on the part of the State of Louisiana to establish educational institutions, in which it has expended a million and a half of dollars, every one of which has ended in total failure. The Board has looked at all the various systems of education and of school government, and has come to the almost unanimous conclusion that the safest system for us to adopt, and that most likely to ensure success, is the military system of government, combined with a certain degree of military instruction, similar to the State Military School at Lexington, in the State of Virginia.

The Board is of opinion that the greatest obstacle in the way of the success of southern schools is found in the inherent propensity of southern youth to resist authority and control from any quarter with which they have no sympathy. This difficulty is admirably overcome by the military system in which the young men are themselves made an essential element in the governing power. But to do this effectually, and to give this school, and this experiment with it, a full and fair trial, it is indispensable that the General Assembly should lend the full force and aid of its influence, and the Board, therefore, earnestly and urgently recommends to, and asks of the General Assembly to make this a military school by law, changing its style and title from the long and inconvenient one of “The Seminary of Learning of the State of Louisiana,” to the shorter, more convenient, and more expressive one of “The Louisiana Military Academy,” assigning to the professors military rank and title, as in the Virginia school, where it is found to give them a prestige and influence with the young men which they could not otherwise enjoy. In the words of our circular: . . .

The military system is not necessarily designed to make soldiers, but it teaches subordination to the laws and constituted authorities of the state; it exercises a wise and wholesome restraint over young men, at a period of their life when restraint is necessary and proper; and also teaches them the use of arms, and the science of organization, a knowledge of great importance to every civilized government. Moreover, it does not withdraw their minds from study, but affords them healthful exercise during hours otherwise devoted to listless or mischievous idleness.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 134-5

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Shipp to Major-General Francis H. Smith, July 4, 1864

July 4, 1864.

GENERAL: In obedience to General Orders, No. --, headquarters Virginia Military Institute, June 27. 1864, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Corps of Cadets under my command in the field from May 11 to June 25, inclusive:

In obedience to orders from Major-General Breckinridge, communicated through you, at 7 a.m. on the morning of May 11 the Corps of Cadets, consisting of a battalion of four companies of infantry and a section of 3-inch rifled guns, took up the line of march for Staunton. The march to Staunton was accomplished in two days. I preceded the column on the second day some hours for the purpose of reporting to General Breckinridge, and was ordered by him to put the Cadets in camp one mile south of Staunton.

On the morning of the 13th I received orders to march at daylight on the road to Harrisonburg, taking position in the column in rear of Echols' brigade. We marched eighteen miles and encamped; moved at daylight on the 14th; marched sixteen miles and encamped.

At 12 o'clock on the night of the 14th received orders to prepare to march immediately, without beat of drum and as noiselessly as possible. We moved from camp at 1.30 o'clock, taking position in the general column in rear of Echols' brigade, being followed by the column of artillery under the command of Major McLaughlin. Having accomplished a distance of six miles and approached the position of the enemy, as indicated by occasional skirmishing with his pickets in front, a halt was called, and we remained on the side of the road two or three hours in the midst of a heavy fall of rain. The general having determined to receive the attack of the enemy, made his dispositions for battle, posting the corps in reserve. He informed me that he did not wish to put the Cadets in if he could avoid it, but that should occasion require it, he would use them very freely. He was also pleased to express his confidence in them, and I  am happy to believe that his expectations were not disappointed, for when the tug of battle came they bore themselves gallantly and well.

The enemy not making the attack as was anticipated, or not advancing as rapidly as was desired, the line was deployed into column and the advance resumed. Here I was informed by one of General Breckinridge's aids that my battalion, together with the battalion of Col. G. M. Edgar, would constitute the reserve, and was instructed to keep the section of artillery with the column, and to take position, after the deployments should have been made, 250 or 300 yards in rear of the front line of battle, and to maintain that distance. Having begun a flank movement to the left, about two miles south of New Market, the nature of the ground was such as to render it impossible that the artillery should continue with the infantry column. I ordered Lieutenant Minge to join the general artillery column in the main road and to report to Major McLaughlin. After that I did not see the section of artillery until near the close of the engagement. Major McLaughlin, under whose command they served, was pleased to speak of the section in such complimentary terms that I was satisfied they had done their duty.

Continuing the advance on the ground to the left of the main road and south of New Market, at 12.30 p.m. we came under the fire of the enemy's batteries. Having advanced a quarter of a mile under the fire we were halted and the column was deployed, the march up to this time having been by flank in column. The ground in front was open, with skirts of woods on the left. Here General Breckinridge sent for me and gave me in person my instructions. The general's plans seem to have undergone some modification. Instead of one line, with a reserve, he formed his infantry in two, artillery in rear and to the right, the cavalry deployed and, guarding the right flank, left flank resting on a stream. Wharton's brigade of infantry constituted the first line; Echols' brigade the second. The battalion of Cadets, brigaded with Echols, was the last battalion but one from the left of the second line, Edgar's battalion being on the left. The lines having been adjusted the order to advance was passed. Wharton's line advanced; Echols' followed at 250 paces in rear. As Wharton's line ascended a knoll it came in full view of the enemy's batteries, which opened a heavy fire, but not having gotten the range, did but little damage. By the time the second gotten line reached the same ground the Yankee gunners had the exact range, and their fire began to tell on our line with fearful accuracy. It was here that Captain Hill and others fell. Great gaps were made through the ranks, but the cadet, true to his discipline, would close in to the center to fill the interval and push steadily forward. The alignment of the battalion under this terrible fire, which strewed the ground with killed and wounded for more than a mile on open ground, would have been creditable even on a field day.

The advance was thus continued until having passed Bushong's house, a mile or more beyond New Market, and still to the left of the main road, the enemy's batteries, at 250 or 300 yards, opened upon us with canister and case-shot, and their long lines of infantry were put into action at the same time. The fire was withering. It seemed impossible that any living creature could escape; and here we sustained our heaviest loss, a great many being wounded and numbers knocked down, stunned, and temporarily disabled. I was here disabled for a time, and the command devolved upon Captain H. A. Wise, Company A. He gallantly pressed onward. We had before this gotten into the front line. Our line took a position behind a line of fence. A brisk fusillade ensued; a shout, a rush, and the day was won. The enemy fled in confusion, leaving killed, wounded, artillery, and prisoners in our hands. Our men pursued in hot haste until it became necessary to halt, draw ammunition, and re-establish the lines for the purpose of driving them from their last position on Rude's Hill, which they held with cavalry and artillery to cover the passage of the river, about a mile in their rear. Our troops charged and took the position without loss. The enemy withdrew, crossed the river, and burnt the bridge.

The engagement closed at 6.30 p.m. The Cadets did their duty, as the long list of casualties will attest. Numerous instances of gallantry might be mentioned, but I have thought it better to refrain from specifying individual cases for fear of making invidious distinctions, or from want of information, withholding praise where it may have been justly merited. It had rained almost incessantly during the battle, and at its termination the Cadets were well-nigh exhausted. Wet, hungry, and many of them shoeless--for they had lost their shoes and socks in the deep mud through which it was necessary to march--they bore their hardships with that uncomplaining resignation which characterizes the true soldier.

The 16th and 17th were devoted to caring for the wounded and the burial of the dead. On the 17th I received an order from General Breckinridge to report to General Imboden, with the request upon the part of General Breckinridge that the corps be relieved from further duty at that time and be ordered back to the Institute. The circumstances of General Imboden's situation were such as to render our detention for a time necessary. We were finally ordered by him to proceed to Staunton without delay, for the purpose of proceeding by rail to Richmond, in obedience to a call of the Secretary of War. Returning, the corps marched into Staunton on the 21st; took the cars on the 22d; reached Richmond on the 23d; were stationed at Camp Lee until the 28th; were then ordered to report to Major-General Ransom: ordered by him to encamp on intermediate line. On the 28th left Camp Lee; took up camp on Carter's farm, on intermediate line, midway between Brook and Meadow Bridge roads; continued in this camp until June 6. On the 6th received orders to return to Lexington; reached Lexington on the 9th; Yankees approached on 10th; drove us out on the 11th; we fell back, taking Lynchburg road: marched to mouth of the North River and went into camp. Next day (Sunday, the 11th) remained in camp until 12 m.; scouts reported enemy advancing; fell back two miles and took a position at a strong pass in the mountains to await the enemy. No enemy came. We were then ordered to Lynchburg; went there; ordered to report to General Vaughn; ordered back to Lexington; reached Lexington on the 25th. Corps furloughed on June 27.*

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
 S. SHIPP,                  
Lieutenant-Colonel and Commandant.
Maj. Gen. F. H. SMITH,

* Nominal list of casualties (omitted) shows 8 killed and 44 wounded.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 37, Part 1 (Serial No. 70), p. 89-91

Friday, July 17, 2020

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, Sunday, June 12, 1864

Lexington, Rockbridge County, June 12 (Sunday), 1864.

Dearest: — I just hear that a mail goes tomorrow. We captured this town after an artillery and sharpshooter fight of three hours, yesterday P. M. My brigade had the advance for two days and all the casualties, or nearly all, fell to me. [A] first lieutenant of [the] Fifth Virginia killed and one private; three privates of [the] Thirty-sixth killed and ten to fifteen wounded. [The] Twenty-third had no loss. Very noisy affair, but not dangerous.

This is a fine town. Stonewall Jackson's grave and the Military Institute are here. Many fine people. Secesh are not at all bitter and many are Union.

I am more pleased than ever with General Crook and my brigade, etc., but some things done here are not right. General Hunter will be as odious as Butler or Pope to the Rebels and not gain our good opinion either. You will hear of it in Rebel papers, I suspect.

Weather fine and all our movements are successful. The Rebels have been much crippled already by our doings. We are probably moving towards Lynchburg. If so you will have heard of our fortunes from other sources before this reaches you.

I got a pretty little cadet musket here which I will try to send the boys. Dear boys, love to them and the tenderest affection for you. — Good-bye.

[R. B. Hayes.]
Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 474

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Sunday, June 12, 1864

[Lexington.] General Hunter burns the Virginia Military Institute. This does not suit many of us. General Crook, I know, disapproves. It is surely bad. No move today. [Marched] thirteen miles yesterday.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 473

Saturday, February 1, 2020

George Mason Graham to S. A. Smith, January 21, 1860

ALEXANDRIA, Jan. 21, 1860.

DEAR DOCTOR: . . . I endorse you, herewith, a draft of an act for making the Seminary a Military Academy by law, and I hope the reflections of your mind will bring you to the conclusion to support it. Look at the immense sum, $1,500,000, expended by the state in educational efforts; and where are the results? Not a vestige of them remains for any useful purpose.

Look at the youth of the state, and the low grade of education pervading it. Look at the lethargy of the parents in regard to the education of their sons, and the reluctance of the sons to submit to control or guidance either at home or at school. The superintendent told me that already a very insubordinate . . . disappointment is manifested by several of the boys. The Academic Board has no power to punish in case of any difficulty; a meeting of the Board of Supervisors can hardly be obtained before next spring. The state must lend the whole aid of its power and influence to enable the institution to exercise a beneficial control. This can only be done by a military government – this makes the young men themselves a part of the power for governing themselves that soon becomes attractive and works better than any other system of college government. But the boys themselves will be very quick to perceive the difference between a system established by a gentleman and one established by a legislature authorizing with the little pomp and circumstance of military parade in music, colors, etc. The people of the state will be brought to take an interest in it that they never will take in any other kind of school or college. This I witnessed at Lexington, Va., in July, 1857, when six hundred people, come to witness the “commencement” of the Virginia Military Institute, dined at one of the hotels of the place.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 133-4

Saturday, October 5, 2019

William T. Sherman to George Mason Graham, January 29, 1860

SEMINARY, Sunday Evening, January 29, 1860.

DEAR GENERAL: I received this p.m. your official letter on the rumor in town that some cadet had gone into a common grog shop and drank liquor. I forthwith embodied it into an order and published it at retreat. I will bear my testimony to the general good behavior of the young men here, and I will not allow my mind to be prejudiced against them by any mere general assertion of any person in Alexandria. I do not believe the report. It may be true, and even if so, I hope we are able to plant the roots of this institution so deep in the soil of truth, honor, knowledge, and science, that it cannot be shaken by the mere clamor of any town. If the men of Alexandria have the interests of us at heart let them deal by us as fair men.

If young men go into saloons, let them convey to me or to you openly, or even confidentially a statement, naming persons, and dates, and not [make] general, blind assertions, intangible, calculated to do mischief, and utterly incapable of good. I know there are some who may elude us, their teachers. We did it when boys, and boys will outwit their masters long after you and I are gone, but I know that generally the conduct of the young gentlemen here, at Alexandria, going and returning, has been as proper and fair as that of any other equal number at West Point or Lexington. I have indirectly satisfied myself of these truths, and shall permit a portion of them each Sunday to go as now under marchers and to return as now for dinner here. I do not expect them to do any thing else than young gentlemen but should any well established case of drinking or rowdyism occur, it shall be punished summarily. But I beg of you to demand of any informer specific facts.

I hear that complaints are made by merchants, apothecaries, booksellers, and hotel-men - even Dutchmen who cannot speak English - damning us because they can't make any money out of us.

I repeat, the young men here, now fifty-one, are generally well behaved, appear well-satisfied, are with a few exceptions progressing in their studies, and I never saw such manifest interest in the drill, we can hardly keep them back. They attend roll calls with great punctuality and we have no complaints of them other than would be naturally expected. They write many letters, the best kind of advertisement, and they can better spread the necessary information of the characteristics of the school than we could do by advertisements, circulars, or letters.

I did intend to send Bragg a copy of your bill,1 but I send the copy herewith to you. Mr. St. Ange will make you another copy, and if necessary you can send this to Bragg. I wrote him fully. I also wrote yesterday to Dr. Smith. I still have many letters of inquiry; all of which I answer fully or by sending an appointment. As you say we must jog along in studies at this irregular term till the legislature determine the exact character of this school and until a new working, practical Board of Control is organized. I hope that will be soon.

I have been out fighting a fire which threatened a fence, and now have a tooth-ache, not calculated to make me cheerful. Sunday to me instead of a day of rest is one of dread, for fear of these very disagreeable rumors which I cannot help. . .

[P.S.] By the way a Mrs. C— brought a son here a few days since, of proper age and appearance and I received him. She said she was in the family of Mr. Chambers, that she did not know the rules, etc., but that as soon as Mr. C— got up from New Orleans, she would send me the money. It is time I should hear from her. Do you know of her? Can you find out, as I had to act on her bare words, she being an utter stranger. The boy is a fine, bright, handsome boy, though not smart. I have notified Mrs. D— that she must send money for her son, and that without it I could [not] procure for him the uniform, about which they are very anxious.

Can you imagine where we could get fifty-five bayonets and scabbards? There are none in the State Arsenal at New Orleans. The U.S. Arsenal at Baton Rouge is under a citizen, else I would make a desperate effort there, promising to pay, unless I could get an order from the Secretary of War. I would not dare approach Mr. Floyd, as Sherman is not a fair sounding name there just now. My aim is to have fifty-five muskets [privates] and five sergeants and corporals, all uniformed early in March.

1 A bill providing for a more efficient organization of the Seminary. — Ed.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 128-31

Friday, August 3, 2018

From The Madison Democrat, November, 1859

[The State Seminary] is to be conducted upon a plan similar to that of the Virginia Institute at Lexington. . . This is a move in the right direction. Our legislators have, for once, at least, acted with a view of promoting the moral as well as the intellectual advancement of the people of the state.

Every father in the Parish of Madison, who has a son over fifteen years of age, that can read and write well, and can perform with facility and accuracy the various operations of the four general rules of arithmetic . . . should at once send him to the Louisiana Seminary of Learning, even if he should be compelled to mortgage his plantation to pay the annual expense of four hundred dollars. . .

We heartily rejoice that a military school of a high grade has been established in our state, because we know that military discipline only can make a school effective for good in this, our perverted age, when almost every youth scarcely out of his teens considers himself independent of all moral restraint, and at liberty to do as he pleases.

Military schools make the pupil not only a soldier, ready to defend our rights and our institutions, but they impart, by the principle of subordination upon which they are conducted, a moral training, which will impress him with the conviction that in order to be able, at some future day, to command, it is indispensably necessary to learn first how to obey.

SOURCES: The article is abstracted in Walter L. Fleming’s, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 65-6

Thursday, July 5, 2018

William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, November 19, 1859

Alexandria, Seminary of Learning, Nov. 19, 1859.

Since my last I have been out to General Graham's who has a large plantation on Bayou Rapides, nine miles from Alexandria. There met Graham and Whittington,1 and Sherman, Vallas, and St. Ange, professors, to make rules for the new institution after the model of the Virginia Military Institute. We took their regulations, omitted part, altered other and innovated to suit this case, and as a result I have it all to write over and prepare for the printer.

Yesterday I moved my things out and am now in the college building, have taken two rooms in the southwest tower and shall make the large adjoining room the office, so as to be convenient. There are five carpenters employed here and I take my meals with them.

It is only three miles to Alexandria. I walked out yesterday, and in this morning; but Captain Jarreau, who is appointed steward, lent me a horse for the keeping, so that hereafter I will have a horse to ride about the country; but for some days I will have writing enough to do, and afterwards may have to go down to New Orleans to buy furniture, of which the building is absolutely without, being brand new. The weather has been excessively dry here, but yesterday it rained hard and last night it thundered hard. Today was fine clear and bright like Charleston. . .

1 Graham and Whittington were delegated by the supervisors to assist the committee of the faculty in drawing up rules. — Ed.

SOURCES: The article is abstracted in Walter L. Fleming’s, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 57-8

Thursday, May 3, 2018

William T. Sherman to George Mason Graham, September 7, 1859

Lancaster, Ohio, Sept. 7, 1859.

Dear Sir: I am now in full possession of all documents sent to my address at Leavenworth including the papers containing the printed proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of August 2. I have written to you twice at Washington, but suppose you are not well arrived, and as I find it best somewhat to qualify my offer to come East, and visit with you the Virginia Institute, I write you again.

I have written Governor Wickliffe that I will be at Saint Louis, Oct. 20 and at Baton Rouge Nov. 5, prepared to meet the committee of supervisors, or the academic faculty at any time thereafter he may appoint. But it may be more convenient for that committee to meet at once in Alexandria or at the institute [Seminary] itself, so that I can be there at any date after Nov. 5, which may prove agreeable to all parties.

To-morrow I will go to Frankfort, Kentucky, to be present at the opening of the session of the Kentucky Military Institute and I will remain long enough to see for myself as much of the practical workings of that institute as possible. Colonel Morgan in charge will, I know, take pleasure in making me acquainted with all details that I may desire to learn.

From Kentucky I shall return to this place, and about the 25th inst. I will go to Chicago, where I expect to meet Captain McClellan of the Illinois Central Railroad, who a few years since visited many of the European establishments, and who can therefore give me much information. I will then go to Leavenport and afterward St. Louis delaying at each point a short while, but you may rest perfectly certain that I will be on hand, when the committee meets and that I will acquire as much practical knowledge of organization as possible in the meantime.

I hope you will find it both pleasant and convenient to visit the Virginia Military Institute and that you will make inquiries that will be of service - thus ascertain the exact price of each article of dress, and furniture furnished the cadets, price of each text-book - how supplied, cost of black-board, drawing-board, mathematical instruments, drawing-paper, paints, pencils, etc. The name of the merchant who supplied them. Have they a single store, like an army suttler who keeps supplies on hand, and whose prices are fixed by the Academic Board, or does their quartermaster provide by wholesale and distribute to cadets charging them? Are all cadets marched to mess hall? Do they have regular reveille, tattoo and taps?

Can we not select a dress more becoming, quite as economical, and better adapted to climate than the grey cloth of West Point and Virginia?

It occurs to me that climate will make it almost necessary to make modifications of dress, period of study, drill, and even dates of examinations. This may all be done without in the least impairing that systematic discipline which I suppose it is the purpose to engraft on the usual course of scientific education.

Ascertain if possible, the average annual expense of each cadet - clothing, mess hall, books, paper, etc., lights fire, and washing and tuition.

I will try and ascertain similar elements in Kentucky and elsewhere, so that we may begin with full knowledge of the experience of all others. Should you write me here the letters will be so forwarded as to meet me with as little delay as possible.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, Editor, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 37-9

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

George Mason Graham to William T. Sherman, September 7, 1859

Willard's Hotel, Washington, Sept. 7, 1859.

Dear SIR: On arriving here night before last I had the pleasure to receive from Mr. Richard Smith your two favors of the 15th and 20th of August, and Major Buell, with whom I have not been able to meet until this morning at breakfast, has shown me yours to him of the 4th inst. which he was in the act of opening when I joined him, and from which he has allowed me to take a memorandum of the dates of your proposed movements. The information contained in your letter to Buell has been of considerable relief to me, for whilst it would be very gratifying to me to meet with you I did not see any good commensurate with the expense, time, risk, and trouble to yourself, to result from your coming all the way here merely to confer with me when it was not in my power to specify any particular day when I would be in the city, as the business which brings me here lies down in Virginia, whither I go tomorrow morning, if the violent cold under which I am now suffering shall permit, and the consummation of it is contingent on the action of a half dozen others than myself.

I had desired very much, if it suited your convenience, that you could visit and see into the interior life of the school at Lexington, Virginia, where everything would be shown to you with the most cordial frankness by Col. Smith, who has taken the warmest and most earnest interest in our effort, and who writes to me of you, sir, in very high terms of congratulatory appreciation, and where one of your classmates, Major Gilham, is a member of the Academic Board.

In the event that this will not be practicable to you, as I infer from the programme laid down in your note to Major Buell it will not be, I shall write to Col. Smith asking him to give us all necessary information of details not contained in the “Rules and Regulations” the preparation of the code of which for our school is confined to the joint action of “the faculty” and “A Committee consisting of Messrs. Manning, Graham, and Whittington.” I would rather have had the Board adopt for the present the code of the Virginia school, because under the Governor's resolution, about which he did not confer with me beforehand, it cannot well be done until on or about the 1st of January, when it ought to be done in advance. I do not see therefore that we can do otherwise than adopt, at first, the code of that school. I have no apprehension but that whatever you, Mr. Manning and myself may agree upon, will be acceptable to all the rest.

In regard to “furnishing” the building there will not be much trouble. My idea will be for each cadet to furnish his own requisites in the way of room furniture, as at West Point. There will then be nothing to furnish but the class-rooms, the kitchen and mess hall as I believe I mentioned to you before, the statement in the Governor's advertisement that “furnished apartments would be provided in the building for the professors,” was an error of our not very clear-headed secretary. The intention of the Board was simply to apprize all interested that there were no separate dwellings for the professors. . .

I met with Mr. F. W. Smith1 in Richmond and travelled with him to this place. He is about sailing for Europe to be back the 1st of December. All my anticipations of him fully realized. I cannot close without mentioning that in a visit to the convent in Georgetown yesterday my sister (Mary Bernard) poured out her joy on learning (to do which she enquired with great eagerness) that the superintendent of our school was the husband of that “one of all the girls who have passed through our hands here that I believed I loved best and was the most deeply interested in.”2

In regard to “authority and control,” although it is not yet exactly so, I hope the next session of the legislature will place our school on precisely the same footing as the Virginia school, making the superintendent the commanding officer of the corps of cadets, giving to him and the other members of the Academic Board, rank in the State's military organization.

1 The newly elected commandant of cadets and professor of chemistry. — Ed.

2 Mrs. Sherman was educated in a Georgetown, D.C., convent in which General Graham's sister was a teacher and later Mother Superior. — Ed.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, Editor, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 34-7

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

William T. Sherman to George Mason Graham, August 20, 1859

Lancaster, O., Aug. 20,1859.

Dear Sir: I wrote you a few days ago, in part answer to your very kind note addressed me at Lancaster. I am now in possession of your more full letter sent by way of Leavenworth, and shall receive to-day the printed reports to which you referred.

These will in great measure answer the manifold questions propounded by me. When in full possession of these I will again write you, and when I know you are at Washington, I may come there to meet you, and to make those preliminary arrangements as to furnishing the building, selecting text books, etc., all of which will no doubt have to be approved by the Board of Education in Louisiana.

I can easily secure from West Point the most complete information on all the details of the management and economy of that institution. Then, being in possession of similar data from the Virginia Institution, we can easily lay a simple foundation, on which to erect, as time progresses, a practical system of physical and mental education, adapted to the circumstances of Louisiana. I shall not take my family south this winter, and shall hold myself prepared to meet you at Alexandria, or elsewhere, at the earliest date you think best. I feel deeply moved by your friendly interest in me, and both socially and in the new field hereby opened to me I will endeavor to reciprocate your personal interest and justify your choice of a superintendent.

I have seen a good deal of the practical world, and have acquired considerable knowledge, but it may be desultory, and may require some time to reduce it to system, and therefore I feel inclined to see the Board of Education1 select a good series of practical books as textbooks.

If this has already been done, I will be the better pleased; if this devolve on the professors it will require some judgment to adjust them, lest each professor should attempt too much, and give preference to textbooks not intimately connected with the other classes. The adjustment of the course of studies, the selection of the kind and distribution of physical, muscular education, and how far instruction in infantry, sword and even artillery practice shall be introduced are all important points, but fortunately we have a wide field of choice, and the benefit of the experience of others. As soon as I learn you are in Washington, and as soon as I know all that has been done, I will give my thoughts and action to provide in advance the knowledge out of which the Board of Education may choose the remainder.

1 Board of Supervisors of the Seminary. — ED.

SOURCE: Walter L. Flemming, Editor, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 33-4

Sunday, April 15, 2018

George Mason Graham to William T. Sherman, August 3, 1859

Steamboat Minnesota, descending Red River, La., August 3, 1859.

Sir: I have the gratification to inform you, in advance probably of your official notification by Gov. Wickliffe, that the Board of Supervisors of the Seminary of Learning, State of Louisiana, yesterday elected you to the chair of engineering, architecture, and drawing in that institution, and to the post of superintendent thereof. . .

I am now en route to join my family at Beer-Sheba Springs, Tennessee, where I shall remain until the last days of August and thence to Washington City all the month of September. My address there will be to “care Richard Smith, Esq., cashier, Bank of the Metropolis.” Hope to be at home by first of November, where from the 1st to the 10th, shall be glad if you can join me, making the headquarters of your family at my house, where we have abundant room, but are nine miles distant from Alexandria, thirteen from the Seminary.

If entirely convenient and comfortable to your family, however, to remain behind, it would be wisest for you to come down alone at first, as there are no residences yet provided, and you will all have to quarter at first in the building. Yourself and Dr. Vallas are the only two married men on the Academic Board, and the Board of Supervisors has taken the initiatory for the creation of two dwellings, but it requires the authorization of the legislature, which assembles on the 3rd Monday in January.

It will be necessary for you to be here as soon as possible after my own return, as the preparation for, and the starting of, the whole machinery has been devolved mostly on you and myself, including the furnishments of the building, as you will see from the published accounts of our proceedings which will be forwarded to you (apropos: the statement in the governor's advertisement that “furnished apartments will be provided the professors in the building” was an error of our secretary's. It should have read “Apartments will be furnished the professors in the building free of charge therefor” le meublant of them however to be left to themselves).

I enclose to your address at Leavenworth, to be mailed with this in New Orleans, a packet containing four publications from the Virginia Military Institute, one of them a copy of its “Rules and Regulations,” so that in devoting in advance, what leisure moments you may have to the preparation of your plans, you may have the experience of our model before you.

If an article in the Daily National Intelligencer of Monday, July 4th, headed “Louisiana Seminary” met your eye, you will have gathered from it a pretty exact idea of its locale. A little ground plan which I have endeavored to make amidst the tremulous motion of the boat, and enclose here, will enable you to form some idea of the capacity of the Building.

Doctor Vallas is an Episcopal clergyman (which quality he sinks entirely, that is, in the exercise of it, so far as the institution is concerned), an Hungarian, an accomplished gentleman, an erudite scholar, a profound and practised mathematician and doctor of philosophy. Has occupied various chairs in the colleges of Vienna and at the time of the establishment of the Revolutionary Government in Hungary, was professor of mathematics in the University at Pesth, in which capacity he was ordered by that Government to organize a military department to the University in which he superintended the instruction of about five hundred young men for two years, when the Austrians recovering possession of Pesth he was dismissed from the Military school and was himself court-martialed. Saving his head, they only removed his body from the office of professor of the university, and altho’ there is satisfactory evidence that he might have been restored to that position, he preferred a voluntary expatriation. He resides in New Orleans, readily at hand.

Monsieur St. Ange seems to be a gentleman and well educated scholar-has served in the Marine Corps of France. Is in Alexandria.

David F. Boyd, an eleve of the University of Virginia and native of that state, is now teacher in a school in the northerly part of Louisiana. He, too, is therefore readily at hand.

Francis W. Smith, native of Virginia and eleve of its military institute, is a very young man, a nephew of both Col. Smith, the superintendent, and of Major Williamson, one of the professors in the V.M.I. He comes strenuously recommended as eminently qualified to fill any chair in our school, except that of modern languages, being only a French scholar. Is now at Lexington, Virginia or Norfolk, where his family reside.

In concluding this long, and to me wearying paper, I beg to say to you that much is expected of you - that a great deal will devolve upon you, and to add that at our Board dinner yesterday, Governor Wickliffe with great cordiality and kind feeling proposed your health and success, and that it was responded to by the other members in brimming glasses.

P.S. If you know Mr. and Mrs. A. I. Isaacs, now I think residing in Leavenworth, they can tell you all about our country here.

SOURCE: Walter L. Flemming, Editor, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 29-33

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Major Thomas J. Jackson to Thomas Jackson Arnold, January 26, 1861

Lexington, Va., January 26, 1861.
My Dear Nephew:

Your very welcome letter reached me a few days since. I was apprehensive from not hearing from any of you for so long a time that some of you might be sick. I am glad to learn that you are progressing so well in your studies, and trust that you will be able to enter the desired class in the Institute. During the present academic year the cadets have numbered between two and three hundred. I was glad to learn your father's views respecting the state of the country; I agree very much with him. In this county there is a strong Union feeling, and the union party have unanimously nominated Samuel McDowell Moore and Jas. B. Dorman as delegates to the convention,1 and I expect that they will be elected by a large majority. I am in favor of making a thorough trial for peace, and if we fail in this, and the state is invaded, to defend it with a terrific resistance. . . . I desire to see the state use every influence she possesses in order to procure an honorable adjustment of our troubles, but if after having done so the free states, instead of permitting us to enjoy the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution of our country, should endeavor to subjugate us, and thus excite our slaves to servile insurrection in which our families will be murdered without quarter or mercy, it becomes us to wage such a war as will bring hostilities to a speedy close. People who are anxious to bring on war don't know what they are bargaining for; they don't see all the horrors that must accompany such an event. For myself I have never as yet been induced to believe that Virginia will even have to leave the Union. I feel pretty well satisfied that the Northern people love the Union more than they do their peculiar notions of slavery, and that they will prove it to us when satisfied that we are in earnest about leaving the Confederacy unless they do us justice. Your aunt joins me in love to you all. Write often.

Your affectionate uncle,

1The State Convention called to meet at the capital in Richmond.

SOURCE: Thomas Jackson Arnold, Early Life and Letters of General Thomas J. Jackson, p. 293-4

Friday, June 24, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Saturday, May 30, 1863

It rained hard all last night, but General Polk's tent proved itself a good one. We have prayers both morning and evening, by Dr Quintard, together with singing, in which General Polk joins with much zeal. Colonel Gale, who is son-in-law and volunteer aide-de-camp to General Polk, has placed his negro Aaron and a mare at my disposal during my stay.

General Polk explained to me, from a plan, the battle of Murfreesborough. He claimed that the Confederates had only 30,000 troops, including Breckenridge's division, which was not engaged on the first day. He put the Confederate loss at 10,000 men, and that of the Yankees at 19,000. With regard to the battle of Shiloh,* he said that Beauregard's order to retire was most unfortunate, as the gunboats were doing no real harm, and if they (the Confederates) had held on, nothing could have saved the Federals from capture or destruction. The misfortune of Albert Johnston's death, together with the fact of Beauregard's illness and his not being present at that particular spot, were the causes of this battle not being a more complete victory. Ever since I landed in America, I had heard of the exploits of an Englishman called Colonel St Leger Grenfell, who is now Inspector-General of Cavalry to Bragg's army. This afternoon I made his acquaintance, and I consider him one of the most extraordinary characters I ever met. Although he is a member of a well-known English family, he seems to have devoted his whole life to the exciting career of a soldier of fortune. He told me that in early life he had served three years in a French lancer regiment, and had risen from a private to be a sous-lieutenant. He afterwards became a sort of consular agent at Tangier, under old Mr Drummond Hay. Having acquired a perfect knowledge of Arabic, he entered the service of Abd-el-Kader, and under that renowned chief he fought the French for four years and a half. At another time of his life he fitted out a yacht, and carried on a private war with the Riff pirates. He was brigade-major in the Turkish contingent during the Crimean war, and had some employment in the Indian mutiny. He has also been engaged in war in Buenos Ayres and the South American republics. At an early period of the present troubles he ran the blockade and joined the Confederates. He was adjutant-general and right-hand man to the celebrated John Morgan for eight months. Even in this army, which abounds with foolhardy and desperate characters, he has acquired the admiration of all ranks by his reckless daring and gallantry in the field. Both Generals Polk and Bragg spoke to me of him as a most excellent and useful officer, besides being a man who never lost an opportunity of trying to throw his life away. He is just the sort of man to succeed in this army, and among the soldiers his fame for bravery has outweighed his unpopularity as a rigid disciplinarian. He is the terror of all absentees, stragglers, and deserters, and of all commanding officers who are unable to produce for his inspection the number of horses they have been drawing forage for. He looks about forty-five, but in reality he is fifty-six. He is rather tall, thin, very wiry and active, with a jovial English expression of countenance ; but his eyes have a wild, roving look, which is common amongst the Arabs. When he came to me he was dressed in an English staff blue coat, and he had a red cavalry forage-cap, which latter, General Polk told me, he always wore in action, so making himself more conspicuous. He talked to me much about John Morgan, whose marriage he had tried to avert, and of which he spoke with much sorrow. He declared that Morgan was enervated by matrimony, and would never be the same man as he was. He said that in one of the celebrated telegraph tappings in Kentucky, Morgan, the operator, and himself, were seated for twelve hours on a clay-bank during a violent storm, but the interest was so intense, that the time passed like three hours* General Polk's son, a young artillery lieutenant, told me this evening that “Stonewall Jackson” was a professor at the military school at Lexington, in which he was a cadet. “Old Jack” was considered a persevering but rather dull master, and was often made a butt of by cheeky cadets, whose great ambition it was to irritate him, but, however insolent they were, he never took the slightest notice of their impertinence at the time, although he always had them punished for it afterwards. At the outbreak of the war, he was called upon by the cadets to make a speech, and these were his words: “Soldiers make short speeches: be slow to draw the sword in civil strife, but when you draw it, throw away the scabbard. Young Polk says that the enthusiasm created by this speech of old Jack's was beyond description.

1 Called Pittsburg Landing and Corinth.

2 This was the occasion, when they telegraphed such a quantity of nonsense to the Yankee general, receiving valuable information in return, and such necessary stores by train as Morgan was in need of.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 148

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: June 24, 1864

I have been much occupied nursing the sick, not only in the hospital, but among our own friends; and a sad, sad week has the last been to us. We have had very little time to think of public affairs, but now that the last sad offices have been performed for one very, very dear to us, with sore hearts we must go back to busy life again. It is wonderful to me that we retain our senses. While the cannon is booming in our ears from the neighbourhood of Petersburg, we know that Hunter is raiding among our friends in the most relentless way; that the Military Institute has been burnt, and that we have nothing to hope for the West, unless General Early and General Breckinridge can destroy him utterly.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 281

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: Sunday Morning, June 12, 1864

A day I will never forget. I slept undisturbed during the night, but was called down stairs early this morning by the servants, who told me the throng of soldiers could not be kept out of the house. I went down and appealed to them as a lone woman who had nobody to protect her.

[M]ight as well have appealed to the bricks. I had left the smokehouse door open, to let them see that every piece of meat was taken (I had some hid under the porch, which as yet they have not found). They came into the dining-room, and began to carry away the china, when a young fellow from Philadelphia (he said) took the dishes from them, and made them come out. I told them all I was a Northern woman, but confessed that I was ashamed of my Northern lineage when I saw them come on such an errand. They demanded to be let into the cellar, and one fellow threatened me with the burning of the house if I did not give them just what they demanded. I said, “Yes, we are at your mercy — burn it down — but I won't give you the key.” They then demanded arms; we got the old shot guns and gave them; these they broke up, and left parts of them in the yard; broke into the cellar; carried off a firkin of lard hidden there; a keg of molasses, and whatever they could find; but did not get the bacon. They asked me if we had no more than this: I answered “Yes, but it is in the mountains.” Sent to Gen. Crooke for a guard. At last they pressed into the house, and two began to search my dressing room. What they took I don't know. They seized our breakfast, and even snatched the toasted bread and egg that had been begged for the sick man's breakfast. My children were crying for something to eat; I had nothing to give them but crackers. They set fire to the Institute about nine o'clock; the flames are now enveloping it; the towers have fallen; the arsenal is exploding as I write. Governor Letcher's house has been burned down, and they told me that all the V. M. I. professors' houses were to be burned, Col. Preston's among them. At last old Dr. McClung came, and Phoebe asked him to go to Averill's Head Quarters with her (Averill has his Head Quarters in Dr. White's yard); she went; did not see the General, but found a young man there (from Philadelphia!) who came back with her and ordered the men off. By and by an officer came, and asked for me; told me he had heard we were annoyed; said he was mortified, and would send a guard, though he had no authority to do so.  . . . Let me note here, and I do it with chagrin and shame, that the only really civil men have been those from Western Virginia and these two Philadelphians. Invariably those from Virginia were polite; one offered silver for some bread; I had nothing but crackers, which I gave him, remarking that he was on the wrong side for a Virginian. He looked decidedly ashamed.

It was twelve o'clock before we could get any breakfast. They carried off the coffee pot and every thing they could lay their hands on, and while the guard, a boy of 17, was walking around the house, emptied the corn-crib. I asked Dr. P. to take the library for his medical stores, which he agreed to do; he was really polite. We asked him if they were going to burn our house; he said “not if it is private property.” Gen. Hunter has ordered the burning of all the V. M. I. professors' houses. Mrs. Smith plead for hers to be spared, on account of her daughter, who lies there desperately ill; that alone saved it. Hunter has his Head Quarters in it. This has been an awful day, and it may be worse before night. One cavalryman told me that if they all talked as I did, they would fire the entire town.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 189-91

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: Saturday Morning, June 11, 1864

Last night all our alarm was again aroused by a courier arriving with the news that the enemy had turned suddenly back, and were in full force at Brownsburg, and that McCausland was retreating with his 1400 men before him. This was soon confirmed by the arrival of brother Eben and Mr. W. again fleeing. The enemy's column entered Brownsburg as they left; they stayed long enough to hear the musketry of the skirmishers; this return was so sudden that they had barely time to escape. Some of the Institute professors were here to tea; all had to depart at once, when Mr. P. came in saying that he had just read a dispatch from McC. saying that he would be here in two hours, and that the enemy was at Cedar Grove, eight miles from this. Sure enough, in less than two hours, McC's men were at Cameron's farm. Mr. P. and two of the officers rode out to see McC. — did not get back till three in the morning; we sitting up till then. Indeed we did not go to bed at all; only threw ourselves down for an hour or so. The cadets have been under arms all night; have not yet moved. Resistance was at first spoken of; but there are only three of the Institute cannon brought back, and McC. has found to his cost that it is in vain to offer opposition with such a mere handful as could be brought together, to the ten thousand who are approaching. So certain did we feel yesterday that the danger was for the time over, that Mr. P. had his stock all brought back from the mountains, and I had “unhid” as George says, our silver. At once Uncle Young [a trusted servant] was dispatched with the carriage horses to Overseer Clark, and he was ordered to proceed at daylight to the mountains. A courier came in at ten o'clock P. M. saying that another force was advancing by way of Kerr's Creek; whereupon E. and the gentlemen from Brownsburg, one a wounded Lt., mounted and decamped. If the enemy advances on Lexington this morning, McC. will most probably burn our bridge, and retreat, the Cadets with him, on the Lynchburg road. Mr. P. goes with the Cadets. They only arrived from Richmond night before last.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 187-8

Friday, June 12, 2015

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: June 8, 1864

I must continue to make some notes, as I have opportunity.  . . . Listened all night for the knock of the courier who was to return to Mr. P. bringing tidings from McCausland; but he did not come till morning. McC. says he will dispute the whole way with the enemy.  . . . A cadet, who will probably die, is to be removed to our house from the V. M. I. hospital this morning. I am about to have the library carpet lifted, and the room prepared for him; he is too ill to be taken upstairs. Mr. P.'s overseer was to drive the cattle off from the farm at daylight. We wait the unfolding of events. I would that my father and J. knew the situation in which I find myself to-day. I wonder if they wouldn't pray for the defeat of those who are coming against us! Mr. P. talks of going to join McC. He can't stay here; but with McC. he could only go into the ranks, and he holds a Lt. Col.'s commission. I pray he may not go; for what can that handful of men do? They may harass a little, but are too small a force to make a stand, without the prospect of being cut to pieces.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 186