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Virginia Military Institute

The Virginia Military Institute is a state-supported military college in Lexington, Virginia, the oldest such institution in the United States.


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College History


On 11 November 1839, VMI was founded on the site of the Lexington state arsenal and the first cadets relieved personnel on duty. Under Major General Francis Henney Smith, superintendent, and Colonel Claudius Crozet, president of the Board of Visitors, the Corps was imbued with the discipline and the spirit for which it is famous. The first cadet to march a sentinel post was Private John Strange. With few exceptions, there have been sentinels posted at VMI every hour of every day of the school year. The Class of 1842 graduated 16 cadets. Living conditions were poor until 1850 when the cornerstone of the new barracks was laid. In 1851 Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson became a member of the faculty and professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy. Under Jackson, then a major, and Major William Gilham, VMI infantry and artillery units were present at the execution by hanging of John Brown at Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1859. Civil War period The Institute played a valuable role in the training of the Southern officer corps and fought as a unit in actual battles. VMI cadets were called into active military service on 14 different occasions during the American Civil War and many cadets, under the leadership of General Stonewall Jackson, were sent to Camp Lee, at Richmond, to train recruits. VMI alumni were regarded among the best officers of the Southcitation needed 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, Stonewall 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 over twenty of his brigadiers and colonels. Engraving of VMI ca. 1863 On 15 May 1864, the VMI Corps of Cadets fought as an independent unit at the Battle of New Market. VMI suffered fifty-two casualties with ten cadets killed. The cadets were led into battle by the Commandant of Cadets and future VMI Superintendent Colonel Scott Shipp. Shipp was also wounded during the battle. Six of the ten fallen cadets are buried on VMI grounds behind the statue "Virginia Mourning Her Dead" by sculptor Moses Ezekiel, a VMI graduate who was also wounded in the Battle of New Market. General John C. Breckinridge, the commanding Southern general, held the cadets in reserve and did not use them until Union troops broke through the Confederate lines. Upon seeing the tide of battle turning in favor of the Union forces, Breckinridge stated, "Put the boys in...and may God forgive me for the order." The VMI cadets held the line and eventually pushed forward, capturing a Union artillery emplacement, securing victory for the Confederates. The Union troops were withdrawn and Confederate troops under General Breckinridge held the Shenandoah Valley. On 12 June 1864 Union forces under the command of General David Hunter shelled and burned the Institute as part of the Valley Campaigns of 1864. The destruction was almost complete and VMI had to temporarily hold classes at the Alms House in Richmond, Virginia. In April 1865 Richmond was evacuated due to the impending fall of Petersburg and the VMI Corps of Cadets was disbanded. The Lexington campus reopened for classes on 17 October 1865. One of the reasons that Confederate General Jubal A. Early burned the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania was in retaliation for the shelling of VMI. Following the war, Matthew Fontaine Maury, the pioneering oceanographer known as the "Pathfinder of the Seas", accepted a teaching position at VMI, holding the physics chair. Following the war, David Hunter Strother, who was chief of staff to General Hunter and had advised the destruction of the Institute, served as Adjutant General of the Virginia Militia and member of the VMI Board of Visitors; in that position he promoted and worked actively for the reconstruction.

College Specialty


The Virginia Military Institute believes that the measure of a college lies in the quality and performance of its graduates and their contributions to society. Therefore, it is the mission of the Virginia Military Institute to produce educated and honorable men and women, prepared for the varied work of civil life, imbued with love of learning, confident in the functions and attitudes of leadership, possessing a high sense of public service, advocates of the American Democracy and free enterprise system, and ready as citizen-soldiers to defend their country in time of national peril. To accomplish this result, the Virginia Military Institute shall provide qualified young men and women an undergratuate education of the highest quality - embracing engineering, science, and the arts - conducted in, and facilitated by, the unique VMI system of military discipline.



VMI's alumni include a Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Pulitzer Prize winners, Rhodes Scholars, Medal of Honor recipients, an Academy Award winner, an Emmy Award and Golden Globe winner, Senators and Representatives, a Governor, a Lieutenant Governor, a Supreme Court Justice, college and university presidents, many business leaders and numerous flag officers, including service chiefs for three of the four armed services. Two recent Chiefs of Engineers of the Army Corps of Engineers, Lieutenant Generals Carl A. Strock and Robert B. Flowers, were VMI engineering graduates. Name Year Notes Edward M. Almond 1915 Commander of U.S. Army X Corps during Korean War Thomas Marshall Boyd 1968 Assistant Attorney General under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush James E. Brown III 1976 Fellow and past president of Society of Experimental Test Pilots and Fellow of Royal Aeronautical Society Josiah Bunting III 1963 Superintendent of VMI, 1995�2002; Rhodes Scholar; Author Withers Burress 1914 Professor of Military Science and Tactics at VMI; Commanding General, U.S. Army 100th Infantry Division Harry F. Byrd, Jr. 1935 Senator from Virginia (1965�83) Dabney Coleman 1949 Movie and television actor Harold Coyle 1974 U.S. Army major; novelist Charles Allen Culberson 1874 U.S. Senator; Governor of Texas Jonathan Myrick Daniels 1961 American civil rights activist and one of fifteen modern-day Anglican Church martyrs Daniel J. Darnell 1975 U.S. Air Force lieutenant general, Commander of the aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds Richard Thomas Walker Duke 1844 Confederate Colonel; Member of U.S. House of Representatives and Virginia House of Delegates Douglas J. Ewing 1951 U.S. Army brigadier general John D. Ewing 1913 Publisher of Shreveport Times, 1931�52 Benjamin Franklin Ficklin 1849 A founder of the Pony Express Robert Flowers 1969 Lieutenant general and Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Leonard T. Gerow 1911 General, US Army; Commanding General, V Corps (1943�45) and US Fifteenth Army (1945�48). Highly regarded by Eisenhower & Bradley.0 Led at Omaha Beach0 and Battle of the Bulge. Ryan Glynn 1995 Professional baseball player in Japan James B. Hickey 1982 Colonel and commander Operation Red Dawn, which captured Saddam Hussein Thomas Goode Jones 1863 Withdrew before graduation to join Confederate Army; wounded in battle four times; Governor of Alabama.0 John P. Jumper 1966 Retired general and Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force Charles E. Kilbourne 1894 Recipient of Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross; lieutenant general, U.S. Army James H. Lane 1854 Confederate brigadier general, fought in Pickett's Charge, civil engineering professor, and founder of Virginia Tech W. Patrick Lang 1962 Retired US Army Special Forces officer, intelligence executive, commentator on Middle East, and author Cary D. Langhorne 1894 Medal of Honor recipient Dan Lyle 1992 Captain of the USA Eagles national rugby team William Mahone 1847 Confederate major general, Member of Virginia House of Delegates, U.S. Senator (1881�87), and railroad executive George Marshall 1901 General of the Army, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army in World War II, Secretary of State (1947�49), Secretary of Defense (1950), and Nobel Peace Prize winner Richard Marshall 1915 General during World War II Robert Q. Marston 1944 President of University of Florida, Director of National Institutes of Health, Rhodes Scholar Frank McCarthy 1933 Brigadier general, US Army Reserve. Producer of the 1970 Academy Award-winning movie Patton. John McCausland 1857 Confederate brigadier-general, served under General Jubal Early Marshall McDonald 1860 U.S. Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries (1888�1895) Shannon Meehan 2005 US Army Captain, Bronze Star Medal recipient, author and veterans activist Darren W. McDew 1982 U.S. Air Force general, Commander, Air Mobility Command. 1st African-American Regimental Commander of Corps of Cadets. Giles H. Miller 1924 Banker, President of VMI Alumni Association, Director of The George C. Marshall Foundation John Cherry Monks, Jr. 1932 Playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, producer and World War II U.S. Marine Thomas T. Munford 1854 Confederate brigadier-general Ralph Northam 1981 U.S. Army Medical Corps, Virginia State Senator, and 40th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Randolph McCall Pate 1921 U.S. Marine Corps general and twenty-first Commandant of the Marine Corps George S. Patton, Sr 1852 Condeferate colonel, 22nd Virginia Infantry; died in Battle of Opequon; grandfather of Gen. George Smith Patton Jr. George Patton 1907 His father and grandfather were both VMI graduates. Left VMI in 1904, to attend and graduate from West Point. Lewis F. Payne, Jr. 1967 Member of Congress from Virginia J. H. Binford Peay III 1962 U.S. Army general, commander 101st Airborne, commander United States Central Command, and 14th superintendent of VMI Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller 1922 Resigned from VMI after freshman year to enlist as a private in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1918; became lieutenant general and most decorated Marine in U.S. history Robert E. Rodes 1848 Railroad civil engineer and Confederate major general killed at the Battle of Opequon in the Shenandoah Valley Bobby Ross 1959 Football coach of West Point, The Citadel, University of Maryland, Georgia Tech, San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions Edward R. Schowalter, Jr. 1951 Medal of Honor recipient; colonel, U.S. Army Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. 1917 U.S. Marine Corps general and 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps Scott Shipp 1856 Superintendent of VMI (1890�1907). Led VMI cadets at New Market under Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge. Henry G. Shirley 1896 Commissioner, Virginia Department of Highways Joseph Short 1925 White House Press Secretary under Harry S. Truman C. Bascom Slemp 1891 Representative for the Ninth Congressional District of Virginia; philanthropist Adolphus Staton 1899 Medal of Honor recipient Carl A. Strock 1970 U.S. Army lieutenant general and commander, Army Corps of Engineers Clarence E. Sutton 1890 Medal of Honor recipient Sun Li-jen 1927 Republic of China/Taiwan lieutenant general, Second Sino-Japanese War and Chinese Civil War Walter H. Taylor 1857 Confederate lieutenant colonel, General Robert E. Lee's aide-de-camp, lawyer, banker, author, railroad executive, Virginia state senator Bobby Thomason 1949 NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Ernest O. Thompson 1910 General, Texas National Guard; Texas Railroad Commissioner, mayor of Amarillo, petroleum expert William P. Upshur 1902 Medal of Honor recipient; Marine Corps major general; Commander, Dept. of the Pacific, 1940�42 Reuben Lindsay Walker 1845 Confederate brigadier general and artilleryman. James A. Walker 1852 Expelled in 1852 for "disobedience" in Stonewall Jackson's classroom, after challenging Jackson to a duel over a perceived insult. VMI granted him an honorary degree in 1872 in recognition of his Civil War service, where he rose to the rank of brigadier general and commanded the "Stonewall Brigade".0 Fred Willard 1955 Comedic actor; U.S. Army officer Reggie Williams 2008 Led NCAA Division 1 scoring in 2006 and 2007, playing for the Houston Rockets in the NBA



Small town, 134 acres (54.22 ha)