VMI Virginia Military Institue, Lexington, VA

Early History: On November 11, 1839 the Virginia Military Institute 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.

Steen Cannons furnished the school with a reproduction of the 2.9 parrott rifle on an all aluminum No. 1 field carriage with an all aluminum limber and ammunition chest designed for outdoor display for the new Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson entrance. The parrott rifle was General Jacksons favorite gun.

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