George C. Marshall - Civil War Buff and Virginia Military Institute cadet, class of 1901, stands for the camera in dress uniform while holding his elaborately-plumed shako
The Confederate dream has lived on at V.M.I., and the tradition has always been strong. The whole Corp of cadets fought as a unit in the Civil War Battle of Newmarket in Virginia, and twenty per cent of them were killed or wounded.
The General, in fact, was the only cadet graduated in his year who came from above the Mason and Dixon line. He was, perhaps for that reason, especially impressed by legends of the war.
He used to hike over old battlefields near the school and memorize the positions occupied by units of both armies, a habit which became so strong that years afterward, when he was an instructor at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he was sometimes assigned to come East with parties of officers and take them over the ground covered by the Federal Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia , conducting a sort of ambulant seminar on the War Between the States. Even now, when General Marshall is motoring through Virginia, he sometimes has the car stopped while he explains to a companion how A. P. Hill’s corps came out of the woods past a crossroads store and fell upon the hapless flank of some Northern general who had forgotten to post pickets.
Photo (Virginia Historical Society)