Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Military Institute cadets and alumni played instrumental roles in the American Civil War. On 14 occasions, the Confederacy called cadets into active military engagements. VMI is authorized battle streamers for each one of these engagements, but the Institute chose only to carry one: the battle streamer for New Market.
Many Virginia Military Institute Cadets were ordered to Camp Lee, at Richmond, to train recruits under General Stonewall Jackson. VMI alumni were regarded among the best officers of the South and several distinguished themselves in the Union forces as well. Fifteen graduates rose to the rank of general in the Confederate Army, and one rose to this rank in the Union Army.
Just before his famous flank attack at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Jackson looked at his division and brigade commanders, noted the high number of VMI graduates and said, “The Institute will be heard from today.” Three of Jackson’s four division commanders at Chancellorsville, Generals James Lane, Robert Rodes, and Raleigh Colston, were VMI graduates as were more than twenty of his brigadiers and colonels.
The Virginia Military Institute (VMI), is a state-supported military college in Lexington, Virginia, the oldest such institution in the United States. Unlike any other senior military college in the United States, and in keeping with its founding principles, VMI enrolls only military cadets and awards baccalaureate degrees exclusively. While VMI has been called the “West Point of the South”, it differs from the federal service academies in several respects. For example, the living conditions at VMI are far more austere than at the service academies.