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Valentine C. Saunders Collection

Identifier: MS-0071
Letter from Cadet Saunders to his parents is the oldest extant letter written by a VMI cadet. Dated November 30, 1839, shortly after the first cadets arrived in Lexington, the letter provides a cadet's view of the newly established Institute. Saunders describes the arsenal; relationship with Washington College; the method of instruction; course of studies; gives his opinion (favorable) of Superintendent Francis H. Smith. Collection also contains Saunders' copy of a published address by Francis H. Smith "The Inner Life of the VMI Cadet" (1866).


  • 1839


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Manuscript collections in the VMI Archives are made available for educational and research use. The VMI Archives should be cited as the source. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright holders. Materials from our collections may not be redistributed, published or reproduced without permission from the VMI Archives. Contact the VMI Archives for additional information.


1 items

Biographical / Historical

Valentine Cook Saunders was born on November 15, 1820, at Leesburg, Virginia, the son of Everitt Saunders and Susan Bashaw. He entered VMI on November 11, 1839 and graduated July 4, 1842, standing 12th of 16 graduates. After graduation he began a career as a teacher, which he continued until his death on December 21, 1894, at Leesburg, VA. He was an excellent linguist, fluent in five languages. He never married.

Physical Location

Manuscripts Stacks

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450