James L. Merritt letters
Two letters from Cadet Merritt to his father. 1863 Nov. 24, discusses school expenses, mentions the Corps being called to defend against Averell's raids; reports dissatisfaction with VMI (complains of hunger, gets " beef, irish potatoes, milk" only). May 16, 1864 written on the day after the Battle of New Market describes being wounded, action on battlefield, mentions cadets Norborne C. Lewis (Class of 1867) and John A. Crichton (Class of 1866). Letter was possibly written from the Bushong House near the battlefield. Includes envelope addressed to W.H.E. Merritt, Lawrenceville, Brunswick Co., Virginia.
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Biographical / Historical
James Love Merritt, from Lawrenceville, Virginia, was born in September 1845. He was the son of W. H. E Merritt and Elizabeth Willis Goode. Merritt matriculated at VMI on August 6, 1863, and on May 15, 1864, he took part in the Battle of New Market as a private in Cadet Company C. He was seriously wounded in the battle and did not return to the Institute. Following the Civil War, he pursued a career in civil engineering and subsequently settled on his farm near Lawrenceville. Merritt never married; his closest relative was Howard Jeffries Merritt, a member of the VMI Class of 1868. He died at his home on March 18, 1911.
The letter of May 16, 1864 is written on a blank form that was used by cadets to report excuses for infractions to the VMI Commandant.
- Crichton, John A. (John Ashton), 1845-1880
- Lewis, Norborne C. (Norborne Clark), 1846-1905
- New Market (Va.), Battle of, 1864 -- Personal narratives
- New Market Cadets
- Shenandoah Valley Campaign, 1864 (May-August)
- Virginia Military Institute -- Cadet life -- 1860-1869
- Virginia Military Institute -- Cadet life -- 1861-1865
- Virginia Military Institute -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865