Dr. Fred Eichelman: Keeping Alive a True Moment In History

Dr. Fred Eichelman

Though May 15 is a ways off yet I am reminded of a part of our history which progressives want to end. Please do not ask why this writer and former history teacher felt a need to write this. Maybe it is because of the controversy over Civil War stories and the Confederate Flag.  Things progressive liberals want erased.

However, with all these historical  dates to remember I felt I should remind readers of another significant date, Battle of New Market Day. That is May 15. I am not making this up. I know, I lived in New Market, VA as a youth and have been well indoctrinated.  There may be a bit of an exaggeration in the following, but not much.

On that date in 1864, the Union army was about to invade New Market. No one knows why as there were surely bigger fish to fry. New Market, Virginia must have had strategic value as the Union Army could have skirted around it and gone on to Harrisonburg which was bigger. The population of New Market was then and remains around 700. No one owned slaves. 

However, the Confederate army, which was getting pretty worn down at this point, had an ace up its sleeve. Or at least a couple Jacks. They cleverly sent word to the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA for help. Now all that was left at VMI were 14 to 16 year old boys and they were eager to fight. Anything to get out of Exams. It would also erase disciplinary demerits. So they answered the call.

Now picture this, a clear May 15th in the Shenandoah Valley. The brave little town of New Market was trembling as the local lawman had only one bullet. (Oh, that was Barney Fife, sorry wrong little town.)

The large Union army on one side stood ready to advance down the valley. Then on the other side the brave young VMI cadets who wanted to prove themselves. The young men charged giving loud rebel yells. They fought for their honor, for the glory and they heard how pretty the girls in New Market were. The battle was short as the cadets proved relentless and their Rebel yells were haunting. In the face of their onslaught the Union army fled in dismay. They left the field to the triumphant young warriors and a legend began. Would this make a good movie or what? Actually the idea was later incorporated in a John Wayne film, The Horse Soldiers.

Even to this day, May the 15th is an important date in New Market with reenactments, parades, a museum built with Yankee tourist dollars, a memorial park and a number of gift shops. Yes, gift shops where non-Virginians can buy confederate hats, toy confederate guns, confederate flags, confederate money and if they have the nerve, even some union souvenirs.

My father ran a gift shop himself and we flew a Confederate flag in front of the store. We knew people would buy confederate related gifts thinking, “These dumb Southerners are still fighting The Civil War.”  Did it bother my dad? He cried all the way to the bank.

Dr. Fred Eichelman

Dr. Fred Eichelman is a retired teacher and a director for Point North Outreach, a Christian media organization. He recently had a book published, Faith, Family, Film-A Teacher's Trek. Fred is a former local Republican Committee chairman and has attended hundreds of conventions from political to science fiction. He sees the two as compatible. Fred also tells us he values very much a title we gave him since he could not be a PolitiChick. PolitiDude.

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