VMI’s Cadet Battery is back and better than ever

(Photo: VMI)

(Photo: VMI)

The custom-designed four-gun battery was cast at the Cyrus Alger Foundry in Boston and arrived at VMI on June 6, 1848.  A statue of Stonewall Jackson, who taught cadets artillery tactics on the guns for a decade at the school, watches over.

The guns were mounted on wooden carriages that had last been replaced generations ago. Now, equipped with brand new aluminum carriages after a seven-month refurbishment, the cannon will endure for centuries.

Named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John by William Pendleton, an Episcopal minister-turned Civil War artillery officer who commanded the unit who used them to good effect during that conflict, the guns were custom-designed at the Cyrus Alger Foundry in Boston to be small enough so that they could be moved around by the cadets without the use of horses.

For at least a decade before the Civil War, the battery and the cadets who manned it was under the tutelage of one Maj. Thomas Jackson, the professor of philosophy and artillery tactics who later went on to become one of the leading generals of the Confederacy.

“When it comes to 19th-century artillery pieces, these guns are some of the most important and historical in the entire nation,” said Col. Keith Gibson, executive director of the VMI Museum System in a statement last summer when the guns were shipped off.  “We can point to these guns and know that Stonewall Jackson used the guns himself and trained cadets on the guns for an entire decade … when he was [VMI] professor of artillery tactics.”

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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