On October 4, 2020, I visited the George C. Marshall Center, the Stonewall Jackson House, the Virginia Military Institute, the chapel where General Robert Edward Lee used to attend within the Washington and Lee University, in addition to the gravesite of Stonewall Jackson in Lexington, Virginia.
On December 7, 2020, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the Stonewall Jackson statute in front of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), which was sculpted by a former VMI Cadet Moses Jacob Ezekiel, was removed and relocated the the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. Members of the public, at large, seem to have forgotten that Stonewall Jackson was a unionist before the war began and that he stopped cadets at the institute from firing their weapons on pro-Union protestors within the town of Lexington. Union colonel Robert Edward Lee was offered, by President Abraham Lincoln, to have control of the entire Union army after the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. However, Robert Edward Lee declined that position, before resigning his commission with the U.S. Army because, because he believed, as thousands of others did, that his state was his “country”. Members of the public tend to forget that those who were pro-Union, before Virginia’s vote to secede, took arms against the union because they did not want to take arms against their fellow friends, family and neighbors within their own state.
We need to remember that history was not so black and white and the removal of historical statutes in public spaces is a huge disservice to that discussion, that could be had, with future generations of individuals seeking to learn the, “good, the bad and the ugly” within our national history.
The board at VMI is considering realigning the George C. Meade statute to the center front, of the barracks, where the Stonewall Jackson statute used to stand.
In 1903, Moses Jacob Ezekiel, whom graduated as a cadet of the Virginia Military Institute in 1866, created the sculpture “Virginia Mourning Her Dead” as a dedication to the VMI cadets who died at the Battle of New Market. In 1912, Mose Ezekiel created another sculpture of the former VMI Engineer professor Stonewall Jackson, which he donated to VMI. The General Stonewall Jackson statute was placed at the front entrance of the barracks within the walls of the institute.
The Stonewall Jackson statute stands in front of the barracks at the Virginia Military Institute and is next to cannons that are painted red. VMI cadets would parade with these red cannons to distinguish them from enlisted military and officers.
Near the statute of Stonewall Jackson is the statute of George C. Marshall, which is next to the George C. Marshall Institute.
On November 11, 1839, the Virginia Military Institute was established in Lexington, Virginia as the first military college of United States.
The institute has served as the training grounds for future soldiers and sailors for almost 200 years and is the oldest such continually operating military college in the United States.
In 1749, The Augusta Hall Academy for higher education was founded near Greenville. In 1776, the academy moved to Lexington and was renamed the Liberty Hall Academy.
Towards the end of George Washington’s life he gave an endowment of $20,000 to the academy, which helped the academy recover from financial difficulties. After the Civil War, General Robert Edward Lee taught at the college. Hence the academy’s name was changed to the Washington and Lee University.
In the 1730, English settlers began to occupy the areas in the western central part of Virginia, near Lynchburg. The Battle of Lexington, was one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War made the area of Lexington famous among the American Colonies. In 1777, the Virginia State Legislature founded the town of Lexington, Virginia, which they named after the Battle of Lexington.