Rats to Receive Orientation
to Their Heritage on September 7, 2014.

Freshmen Class visits Battlefield

At a time of year when thousands of college freshmen are receiving their campus orientation,
the freshmen of VMI go to a battlefield.

Every year during the first weekend of September,  the freshman class of VMI, or Rats as they are called at VMI, visit New Market Battlefield State Historical Park for a day long orientation to the 1864 battle in which the VMI Cadet Corps so prominently figured.

The "Rat" Class, which numbers around 450 men and 50 women, are joined by proud family members for the occasion. The event comes as the cadets finish an intense ten day military "cadre" period and begin their academic classes. It is the first time most parents have seen their cadet since matriculation.

During the event the "Rats" will take their oath of cadetship:

I hereby engage to serve as a cadet in the Virginia Military Institute for the term for which I have entered. I promise on my honor while I continue a member thereof to obey all legal orders of the Constituted Authorities of the Institute and to discharge all of my duties as a Cadet with regularity and fidelity. I will never lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do, and I solemnly pledge to keep this covenant with all members of the Corps, so help me God.

The photographs below are from past events.


field.jpg (30206 bytes) The Rats departed Lexington at 7:30 a.m. and arrived at the battlefield at 9:15 a.m. Here a company of Rats move to the Bushong house to receive a lecture on the impact of the war on civilians, like Jacob and Sarah Bushong who survived the battle by seeking shelter in their cellar.
stain-glass.jpg (36970 bytes) Two new cadets examine the 10' by 20' stained glass window depicting the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley. The names of the ten cadets who died as a result of their participation in the 1864 battle are engraved in the window.
fence.jpg (63298 bytes) At the split rail fence overlooking the "Field of Lost Shoes," COL Keith Gibson and four members of the VMI Civil War Round Table, a study group, explain the moment when the Cadets were called into the front of the Confederate battle line and charged the Federal position.
parents-hov.jpg (52524 bytes) Parents happily greet their son at the Hall of Valor.
white-lines.jpg (55465 bytes) The Rats line the Bushong Lane as First Classmen (seniors) arrive from their 80-mile march from Lexington. The First Classmen carry VMI shields that are later presented to each Rat on the battlefield.
rats-at-paddock.jpg (17252 bytes) Standing at attention in the Bushong House paddock the Rat Class prepare to take the Oath of Cadetship. The 1818 House can be seen in the background.
oath.jpg (86285 bytes) The Rat Class take the Oath of Cadetship while standing in the paddock of the Bushong Farm. Family and friends stand along the fence watching with admiration and pride.
hat-shield.jpg (14050 bytes) Rats pinning on their hat shields after crossing the "Field of Lost Shoes."
picnic.jpg (46148 bytes) Families spare no effort in feeding their Rats.
main-street.jpg (61348 bytes) The first public parade of the new VMI class takes place in Downtown New Market, Virginia during the afternoon.
flag.jpg (44525 bytes) The VMI Color Guard, followed by the VMI Civil War Roundtable leads the parade.


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