Wednesday, May 28, 2014

April 25, 1864 (Tuesday): The VMI Corp of Cadets Is Offered For Service

VMI Lexington, VA

April 25, 1864.
Adjutant-General of Virginia, Richmond:
    GENERAL: Your letter of the 22nd instant, inclosing that of General Francis H. Smith, in which he proposes to tender the services of the Corps of Cadets at the Virginia Military Institute for the approaching campaign, is received. I desire to express my appreciation of the patriotic spirit that actuates General Smith in making this proposal, and my gratification at finding that it meets with your concurrence. I do not think, however, that it would be best at this time for the corps to be called to this army. It is now in a situation to render valuable aid in defending our western frontier, which may be menaced simultaneously with the general advance of the enemy in the east. It will thus prevent the necessity of detaching troops from this army. I think it would be advisable for General Smith to hold the command in readiness to co-operate with General Breckinridge and General Imboden in case of necessity, and to notify those officers of the fact. Should it at any time become necessary or expedient to have the services of the cadets with this army, it is very gratifying to me to know that they are so fully placed at my disposal.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 875.

VMI's cadets represented the future of the Confederate Army, but the future was in question.  Smith's offer was not accepted by Lee at this time, but before the year was over the cadets would see action at New Market.  For the time being, they provided a ready force in the Valley which meant Lee could avoid sending troops from his own command to the Valley.


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