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The collection consists of one letter (September 17, 1868) written by Virginia Military Institute Cadet Edward M. Watson to his father. Watson describes in detail the typical daily new cadet routine at VMI during the post-Civil War years. Topics include reveille, roll call, inspections, meals, study and recitation, drill and parade. The letter contains one of the earliest documented examples of term "rat" as a reference to a new cadet.