Battle of New Market

The Battle of New Market was fought on May 15, 1864, in Virginia during the Valley Campaigns of 1864 in the American Civil War. A makeshift Confederate army of 4,100 men, which included cadets from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), defeated Union Major General Franz Sigel and his Army of the Shenandoah. The cadets were integral to the Confederate victory at New Market.

As a result of this defeat Sigel was relieved of his command and replaced by Maj. Gen. David Hunter.


In the spring of 1864, Union commander-in-chief Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant set in motion a grand strategy designed to press the Confederacy into submission. Control of the strategically important and agriculturally rich Shenandoah Valley was a key element in Grant's plans. While he confronted General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in the eastern part of the state, Grant ordered Major General Franz Sigel's army of 10,000 to secure the Valley and threaten Lee's flank, starting the Valley Campaigns of 1864.

Sigel was to advance on Staunton, Virginia in order to link up with another Union column commanded by George Crook, which would advance from West Virginia and destroy the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad and other Confederate industries in the area. Sigel's force totaled about 9,000 men and 28 cannons, divided into an infantry division commanded by Brig. Gen. Jeremiah C. Sullivan and a cavalry division commanded by Maj. Gen. Julius Stahel (detachments made during the campaign reduced the Union force to about 6,300 by the time of the battle).[5]

Receiving word that the Union Army had entered the Valley, Major General John C. Breckinridge pulled together all available forces to repulse the latest threat. His command consisted of two infantry brigades under John C. Echols and General Gabriel C. Wharton, a cavalry brigade commanded by General John D. Imboden, and other independent commands. This included the cadet corps of VMI, which had an infantry battalion of 247 cadets commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Scott Shipp and a two-gun artillery section. Breckinridge concentrated his infantry at Staunton, while Imboden slowed Sigel's movement southward along the Valley.[6]

On the morning of May 13, Breckinridge decided to move north to attack Sigel instead of waiting for Sigel to reach Staunton. By the evening of May 14, Sigel's advance forces had reached a position north of the village of New Market, while Breckinridge was at Lacey Spring eight miles south of New Market. The Confederates started toward the Union positions at 1 a.m. on May 15, hoping to trap and crush the Union army.[7]

Opposing forces



New Market
Battle of New Market
Field of Lost Shoes
"Field of Lost Shoes" on the New Market Battlefield

The two forces made contact south of New Market about mid-morning, with the main Union line west of the town near the North Fork of the Shenandoah River; Colonel Augustus Moor initially commanded the Union forces present on the battlefield at this time, which consisted of his infantry brigade and part of John E. Wynkoop's cavalry brigade. Additional Union regiments arrived throughout the morning and deployed between the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and the Valley Turnpike, with the main line centered on Manor's Hill. Breckinridge deployed Wharton's brigade on the Confederate left west of the Valley Turnpike and Echols's brigade on the right along the Pike; Echols was ill that morning, so his brigade was commanded by Colonel George S. Patton, Sr. The VMI cadets battalion was kept in reserve, while Imboden's cavalry was east of the turnpike.[8] Breckinridge attempted to lure the Federals into attacking him using cavalry and artillery, but Moor refused to move from his position. About 11 a.m., Breckinridge decided to launch an attack on Moor using his infantry, while Imboden's brigade crossed Smith's Creek east of New Market, rode north, and recrossed the stream behind the Union lines. Union cavalry General Stahel arrived at New Market at this time with additional troops, followed shortly afterwards by Union General Sigel.[9]

Breckinridge launched his infantry attack near noon, slowly pushing Moor's infantry brigade off Manor's Hill and northward toward the rest of Sigel's army, which was deploying on a hill north of Jacob Bushong's farm, known as Bushong's Hill. Once past the town of New Market, the Confederates halted to dress ranks, shift units along the line, and reposition their artillery units. Breckinridge resumed his attack about 2 p.m.[10] As the Confederate line formed near the Bushong farm, massed Union rifle and artillery fire disorganized the Confederate units in the center, forcing the right wing of the 51st Virginia Infantry and the 30th Virginia Infantry Battalion to retreat in confusion, while the rest of the Confederate line stalled.

Breckinridge reluctantly ordered the VMI cadet battalion to fill the gap; while the battalion was moving forward to the Bushong orchard, Shipp was wounded and was replaced by Captain Henry A. Wise. At this time, Sigel launched two counterattacks. On the Union left, Stahel launched a mounted charge with the cavalry but was routed by heavy fire from Confederate artillery, while three infantry regiments attacked on the Union right and were repulsed as well.[11] The main cause of the failure of the infantry attacks was confusion within the ranks of the Union commanders; Sigel was noted to be shouting orders in his native language of German.

After the repulses of the Union attacks, Breckinridge started his advance again shortly after 3 p.m. with his infantry force; while crossing a field near Bushong's orchard, several VMI cadets lost their shoes in the mud, which led to the field being called the "Field of Lost Shoes". As the Confederate line got closer to the Union artillery, Sigel's batteries were forced to retreat as the infantry started breaking towards the rear. Five cannons were abandoned to the Confederates, one of which was captured by the VMI cadet battalion. Battery B of the 5th U.S. Artillery, which had just arrived on the field, and two infantry regiments slowed the Confederate pursuit.[12] At this time, Breckinridge halted his forces until the supply trains arrived to resupply the troops.

While the infantry was being resupplied, Confederate cavalry General Imboden arrived with his brigade with the news that the creek was too swollen to be crossed. Union General Sullivan arrived during this time with the 28th and 116th Ohio Infantry; Sigel managed to organize a rearguard on Rude's Hill, with Sullivan's infantry east of the turnpike, some of Stahel's cavalry west of the road, and the artillery behind the line. Due to the exhaustion of the men and low ammunition, Sigel decided to retreat across the Shenandoah River to Mount Jackson. The Union army managed to cross the river and burn the bridge before the Confederates could catch up.[13]


Grave of Joseph Christopher Wheelwright at the New Market Battlefield in New Market, Virginia - Stierch
The grave of Joseph Christopher Wheelwright at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

Union casualties totaled 841 for the battle: 96 killed, 520 wounded, and 225 captured or missing, a casualty rate of 13.4%. The Confederates lost 43 killed, including 10 cadets; 474 wounded, and 3 missing, 13% of the army. The wounded from the battle were cared for in Bushong's barn and in the town at the Smith Creek Baptist church and a warehouse, while the dead were buried in the graveyard of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church.[14] Sigel staged a rapid retreat northward to Strasburg, leaving the field and the Valley to Breckinridge's army. After learning of the Union defeat, Grant became furious and replaced Sigel with General David Hunter; Sigel was assigned to command the department's reserve division based in Harpers Ferry.[15] Sergeant James Burns of the 1st West Virginia Infantry received the Medal of Honor in 1896 for saving the regimental flag in the battle.[16]

The Confederate victory allowed the local crops to be harvested for Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and protected Lee's lines of communications to western Virginia. The Virginia newspapers and the Confederate soldiers in the battle compared Breckinridge to Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Following Sigel's retreat, Lee suggested that Breckinridge follow the Union army and invade Maryland; however, the flooded rivers in the northern Shenandoah Valley and the length of his supply line prevented Breckinridge from making a pursuit. Breckinridge's forces were transferred to eastern Virginia, where they reinforced Lee's army at the Battle of Cold Harbor.[17]

The victory failed to stop the Union offensive however. After assuming command of the Army of the Shenandoah Hunter resumed the march southwest and defeated a Confederate force under Brig. Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones at the Battle of Piedmont on June 5, occupying Staunton the following day.

VMI casualties

Forty-seven VMI cadets were wounded in the battle (around 23%).[18] The following ten cadets were killed outright or mortally wounded:

Cadet [2] Hometown Rank and Company notes
Samuel Francis Atwill
Class of 1866 (Sophomore)
Atwillton, Virginia Cadet Corporal
Company A
Died on July 20 at the home of Dr. Stribling in Staunton. Buried at VMI.

‣ Promoted to Cadet Third Sergeant, Company C on June 27, 1864, but never served

William Henry Cabell
Class of 1865 (Junior)
Richmond, Virginia Cadet First Sergeant
Company D
Killed in action. Buried at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond
Charles Gay Crockett
Class of 1867 (Freshman)
Wythe County, Virginia Cadet Private
Company D
Killed in action. Reinterred at VMI in 1960.
Alva Curtis Hartsfield
Class of 1866 (Sophomore)
Wake County, North Carolina Cadet Private
Company D
Died on June 26 in a Petersburg hospital. Buried in an unmarked grave in Blandford Church Cemetery, Petersburg.

‣ Listed under Company B on the monument

Luther Cary Haynes
Class of 1867 (Freshman)
Essex County, Virginia Cadet Private
Company B
Died on June 15 at the old Powhatan Hotel Hospital, Richmond. Buried at his family home “Sunny Side”.
Thomas Garland Jefferson
Class of 1867 (Freshman)
Amelia County, Virginia Cadet Private
Company B
Died three days after the battle in a nearby private home. Buried at VMI.
Henry Jenner Jones
Class of 1867 (Freshman)
King William County, Virginia Cadet Private
Company D
Killed in action. Buried at VMI.
William Hugh McDowell
Class of 1867 (Freshman)
(The Ghost Cadet by Elaine Marie Alphin)
Beattie's Ford, North Carolina Cadet Private
Company B
Killed in action. Buried at VMI.
Jaqueline Beverly Stanard
Class of 1867 (Freshman)
Orange, Virginia Cadet Private
Company B
Killed in action. Buried in Orange, Virginia.
Joseph Christopher Wheelwright
Class of 1867 (Freshman)
Westmoreland County, Virginia Cadet Private
Company C
Died on June 2 at the home of a doctor in Harrisonburg. Buried at VMI.
Virginia Museum of the Civil War - Stierch
The Virginia Civil War Museum and New Market Battlefield State Historical Park where the recreation of the charge takes place

The New Market Day ceremony is an annual observance held at VMI in front of the monument Virginia Mourning Her Dead, a memorial to the New Market Corps. It was sculpted by Cavaliere Moses Ritter von Ezekiel, VMI Class of 1866, who was a veteran of the battle. The names of all of the cadets in the Corps of 1864 are inscribed on the monument, and six of the ten cadets who died in the battle are buried at this site.

The ceremony features the roll call of the names of the cadets who lost their lives at New Market, a custom that began in 1887. As the name of each cadet who died is called, a representative from the same company in the modern Corps answers, "Died on the Field of Honor, Sir." A 3-volley salute is conducted by a cadet honor guard, followed by "Taps" played over the parade ground. To culminate this ceremony, the entire Corps passes Virginia Mourning Her Dead in review.[19]

See also

Battlefield preservation

The battlefield is primarily preserved in the 300-acre New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. In addition, the Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners have acquired and preserved 20 acres (0.081 km2) of the battlefield.[20]

In popular culture

Sean McNamara's 2014 film, Field of Lost Shoes, is a fictionalized account of the actions performed by the cadets of the Virginia Military Institute during the battle. The movie follows a group of seven cadets of the Virginia Military Institute, based on real characters.


  1. ^ Davis, p. 190.
  2. ^ Davis, p. 192.
  3. ^ Davis, p. 195.
  4. ^ Davis, p. 196.
  5. ^ Davis, pp. 18–20, 24.
  6. ^ Knight, pp. 77, 246–248.
  7. ^ Knight, p. 89, 100, 117.
  8. ^ Knight, pp. 118, 121–124.
  9. ^ Davis, p. 80–83, 87–88; Knight, pp. 129–180.
  10. ^ Knight, p. 136, 141–142; Davis, p. 102–103.
  11. ^ Davis, pp. 114–1120, 124–126, 128–130.
  12. ^ Davis, pp. 130–146.
  13. ^ Davis, pp. 146–152.
  14. ^ Davis, pp. 158–159, 194, 196.
  15. ^ Davis, pp. 157, 164–166.
  16. ^ Knight, p. 203.
  17. ^ Davis, pp. 179–184.
  18. ^ Knight, p. 246.
  19. ^ Davis, pp. 174–176.
  20. ^ [1] American Battlefield Trust "Saved Land" webpage. Accessed May 29, 2018.


  • Davis, William C. The Battle of New Market. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975.
  • Knight, Charles, Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market, New York: Savas Beatie, 2010, ISBN 978-1-932714-80-7.
  • National Park Service battle description
  • Cadet Deaths at New Market — VMI Archives
  • CWSAC Report Update

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 38°39′19″N 78°40′42″W / 38.65515°N 78.67825°W

123rd Ohio Infantry

The 123rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (or 123rd OVI) was an infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Alfred Terry

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Battle of Chaffin's Farm

The Battle of Chaffin's Farm and New Market Heights, also known as Laurel Hill and combats at Forts Harrison, Johnson, and Gilmer, was fought in Virginia on September 29–30, 1864, as part of the Siege of Petersburg in the American Civil War.

Battle of Glendale

The Battle of Glendale, also known as the Battle of Frayser's Farm, Frazier's Farm, Nelson's Farm, Charles City Crossroads, New Market Road, or Riddell's Shop, took place on June 30, 1862, in Henrico County, Virginia, on the sixth day of the Seven Days Battles (Peninsula Campaign) of the American Civil War.The Confederate divisions of Maj. Gens. Benjamin Huger, James Longstreet, and A.P. Hill converged on the retreating Union Army in the vicinity of Glendale or Frayser's Farm. Longstreet's and Hill's attacks penetrated the Union defense near Willis Church. Union counterattacks sealed the break and saved their line of retreat along the Willis Church Road. Huger's advance was stopped on the Charles City Road. The divisions led by Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson were delayed by Brig. Gen. William B. Franklin's corps at White Oak Swamp. Confederate Maj. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes made a feeble attempt to attack the Union left flank at Turkey Bridge but was driven back. This had been Lee's best chance to cut off the Union army from the James River. That night, the Union army established a strong position on Malvern Hill.

Brodie Nalle

Brodie Crump Nalle (September 20, 1878 – February 2, 1952) was a physician from Charlotte, North Carolina.His father Gustavus Brown Wallace Nalle was one of the VMI cadets at the Battle of New Market. As a youth, he was a college football player, a quarterback for the Virginia Cavaliers football team. In 1900, he starred in the victory over Gallaudet.He was the chief surgeon for the Piedmont and Northern Railway Company, and the Duke Power Company and its

predecessor, Southern Utilities Company. He formed the Nalle Clinic in 1921. In 1941, he became a trustee of Duke University.

Charles James Faulkner

Charles James Faulkner (September 21, 1847 – January 13, 1929) was a United States Senator from West Virginia and the son of Charles James Faulkner Sr., a U.S. Representative from Virginia and West Virginia. Born on the family estate, "Boydville," near Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia), he accompanied his father, who was U.S. Minister to France, to that country in 1859; he attended school in Paris and Switzerland. He returned to the United States in 1861, and during the Civil War entered the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington in 1862. He served with the cadets in the Battle of New Market and, after the war, graduated from the law department of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where he was a member of St. Anthony Hall, in 1868. He was admitted to the bar in 1868 and commenced practice in Martinsburg.

In 1887, Faulkner was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate; he was reelected in 1893 and served from March 4, 1887, to March 3, 1899. While in the Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Territories (Fifty-third Congress). In 1898 he was appointed a member of the International Joint High Commission of the United States and Great Britain. He retired from public life and devoted his time to the practice of law in Martinsburg and Washington, D.C., and to the management of his agricultural interests. In 1922, he served as first president of the Opequon Golf Club.Faulkner died at the Boydville family estate in 1929; interment was in the Old Norbourne Cemetery, Martinsburg.

Charles W. Turner (attorney)

Charles William Turner (June 8, 1846 – January 7, 1907) was a lawyer in Seattle and Montana, and once Adjutant General of Montana. As a youth during the American Civil War, he was a courier for Stonewall Jackson. Subsequently, he was one of the VMI cadets who fought at the Battle of New Market. He later moved to Montana to practice law and engaged in mining pursuits. Turner was shot to death in a Seattle bar by an assassin who was after one of Turner's clients.

Field of Lost Shoes

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The film was released in Europe under the title Battlefield of Lost Souls.

Moses Jacob Ezekiel

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New Market, Virginia

New Market is a town in Shenandoah County, Virginia, United States. Founded as a small crossroads town between the north south route 11 and the east west route 211, with crosses the Massanutten mountain at the town's titular gap, New Market remains a small town with a population of 2,146 as of the most recent 2010 U.S. census. New Market is home to the New Market Shockers of the Rockingham County Baseball League, The New Market Rebels of the Valley Baseball League, the Schultz Theatre and School of Performing Arts, and the Shenvalee golf Course. Most notably the town was the location of the last major Confederate victory in the War Between the States.

New Market Battlefield State Historical Park

New Market Battlefield State Historical Park is a historic American Civil War battlefield and national historic district located near New Market, Shenandoah County, Virginia. The district encompasses the site of the Battle of New Market, a battle fought on May 15, 1864, during Valley Campaigns of 1864. In the middle of the battlefield stands the Bushong House, used by both sides as a hospital during the battle and now the visitor center for the 300-acre park.The park is the site of the Virginia Museum of the Civil War operated by the Virginia Military Institute.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

New Market Confederate order of battle

The following Confederate States Army units and commanders fought in the Battle of New Market in the American Civil War. The Union order of battle is shown separately.

New Market Cross of Honor

The New Market Cross of Honor is military decoration issued to cadets of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) for their service to the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. The decoration was issued by the Alumni Association of VMI about 40 years after the war, in 1904.The award was presented to the 294 members of the Cadet Battalion from VMI who marched into combat at the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864, turning the tide of the battle for the Confederacy. All the cadets had been previously listed on the Confederate Roll of Honor. A notable participant in the battle, and recipient, was Moses Jacob Ezekiel. In addition to the cadets, the cross was also presented to Eliza Catherine Clinedinst Crim, a New Market resident who had nursed injured cadets after the battle; upon her death in 1931 cadets served as her pallbearers and her grave marker said "Mother of the New Market Corps".Separately, VMI has awarded a "New Market Medal" to distinguished alumni since 1962.

New Market Historic District

New Market Historic District may refer to one of several places listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

New Market Historic District (New Market, Alabama), listed on the NRHP in Alabama

New Market Historic District (New Market, Maryland), listed on the NRHP in Maryland

New Market (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), a National Historic Landmark in Pennsylvania

New Market Battlefield State Historical Park, site of the Battle of New Market in Virginia

New Market Historic District (New Market, Virginia), listed on the NRHP in Virginia

New Market Union order of battle

The following Union Army units and commanders fought in the Battle of New Market in the American Civil War. The Confederate order of battle is shown separately. Order of battle compiled from the army organization during the battle and the reports.

Scott Shipp

Scott Shipp (also spelled Ship, born Charles Robert Scott Ship) (August 2, 1839 – December 4, 1917) was an American military figure, Confederate States Army officer, educator and educational administrator born in Warrenton, Virginia. He was the second superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute, briefly the president of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (Virginia Tech) and led the VMI Cadets at the Battle of New Market during the American Civil War.

Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District

The Shenanandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District is a [National Battlefield Site] in Virginia. The district comprises eight counties in the Shenandoah Valley, including the scene of Jackson's Valley Campaign of 1862, Lee's Gettysburg Campaign of 1863 and Sheridan's Shenandoah Campaign of 1864.Battlefields within the District area include the First and Second battles of Kernstown, the First, Second and Third battles of Winchester and the Battle of New Market.Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia are seeking to be added to the district.

Thomas Gordon Hayes

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Thomas G. Hayes died on August 27, 1915. A statue of Hayes by Edward Berge was unveiled at the Baltimore City Hall on May 5, 1919.

Virginia Military Institute

Founded 11 November 1839 in Lexington, Virginia, the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is the oldest state-supported military college and the first public Senior Military College in the United States. In keeping with its founding principles and unlike any other Senior Military College in the United States, VMI enrolls cadets (uniformed members of the Corps of Cadets) only and awards baccalaureate degrees exclusively.VMI offers its students, all of whom are cadets, strict military discipline combined with a physically and academically demanding environment. The Institute grants degrees in 14 disciplines in engineering, the sciences and liberal arts, and all VMI students are required to participate in one of the four ROTC programs (Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force).While VMI has been called "The West Point of the South",, it differs from the federal military service academies. As of 2019, VMI had a total enrollment of 1,722 cadets. All cadets must participate in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) of the United States Armed Forces programs, but are afforded the flexibility of pursuing civilian endeavors or accepting an officer's commission in any of the active or reserve components of any of the U.S. military branches upon graduation.VMI's alumni include a Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, 7 Medal of Honor recipients, 13 Rhodes Scholars, Pulitzer Prize winners, an Academy Award winner, an Emmy Award and Golden Globe winner, a martyr recognized by the Episcopal Church, Senators and Representatives, Governors, including the current Governor of Virginia, Lieutenant Governors, a Supreme Court Justice, numerous college and university presidents, many business leaders (presidents and CEOs) and over 285 general and flag officers across all US service branches and several other countries.

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