Visit the museums of the Virginia Military Institute, the oldest state-supported military college in the United States: The VMI Museum, Virginia Museum of the Civil War, Stonewall Jackson House, Marshall Museum and Library, Adams Center for Military History, and VMI Archives.
Nestled at the base of the Massanutten Mountain sits a small town made famous by the battle that took place there in May of 1864. Originally called Crossroads, the town of New Market, Virginia was officially established on December 14, 1796. Its unique geographic location near a gap in the Massanutten Mountain, the New Market Gap, allowed the town to flourish in the late 18th and through the 19th Century because of a crossroads of two major road systems. The New Market Gap made way for the New Market-Sperryville turnpike that ran East-West and allowed the sole passage across the 45 mile long Massanutten Mountain which cut the Shenandoah Valley in half. Following an old Native American pathway, the Valley Turnpike, present day Route 11, became the major North-South travel route for settlers looking to establish themselves on the Valley’s fertile lands.
Many of the early settlers to New Market had followed the natural path created by the parallel mountain ranges into the Shenandoah Valley from Maryland and Pennsylvania, most of German or Scotch-Irish descent. As the population grew so did the variations in occupation. In 1835, the town included not only farmers, but four doctors, two wheelwrights, one silversmith, one copper-smith, and one lawyer. It boasted five stores, four tanneries, three hat factories, and a threshing machine factory. During the Civil War, the Shenandoah Valley became strategically important, both as an avenue of invasion and as a significant food source for the Confederate Army. With the town of New Market located along the main pathway, its residents were used to the troops marching up and down the Valley Pike. Stonewall Jackson marched his troops through town on four separate occasions. The Battle of New Market took place on May 15, 1864, involving cadets from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) under the command of General John C. Breckenridge. As the last major Confederate victory in the Shenandoah Valley, it delayed the Union’s movement up the valley. The Virginia Historic Landmark’s Commission designated the Town of New Market as a historic district and registered it as a Historic Landmark in 1972. The town is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is managed by the National Park Service.