“Dilapidated, Fenceless, and Trodden with War”

--Walt Whitman, Specimen days, 1882


Frontispiece from Rev. John Lipscomb Johnson, The University memorial: biographical sketches of alumni of University of Virginia who fell in the Confederate War. [Baltimore: Turnbull Brothers, 1871]
(LD5675.43.J6 1871)

This illustrated volume contains biographical essays on 200 alumni who died during the war. The first alumni killed in battle, at the Battle of First Manassas [Bull Run] on July 21, 1861, were two Martinsburg, Va., brothers from the 2nd Virginia Infantry: Sergeant Holmes Addison Conrad and Private Henry Tucker Conrad. The last alumni casualty, “surrounded by the enemy, fighting with desperation,” was Captain James Breckinridge of Fincastle, Botetourt County, Va., 2nd Virginia Cavalry. He died during the Army of Northern Virginia’s April 1865 retreat from Petersburg. Breckinridge and the Conrads attended the University during the 1850s.

Ladies Confederate Memorial Association of Albemarle County, Va., The honor roll: names of students who were killed, died or lost in actual military service of the Confederacy. [Charlottesville, 1906?]
(E548 .L24 1906)

This memorial volume lists the University of Virginia students who died fighting for the Confederacy and includes the students’ residences and place and date of death.

By war’s end, 500 students had been killed in battle, or died as a result of wounds or disease. Double bronze tablets bearing their names were unveiled on the Rotunda’s south portico in 1906.


Holsinger’s Studio, Photograph of University of Virginia Confederate alumni, 11 June 1912.
Gift of Mrs. Peyton Moncure (RG-30/1/1.801)

In conjunction with the University of Virginia’s 1912 commencement exercises, surviving alumni who had served in the Confederate armed forces were celebrated at a special banquet. A group of the honorees appears in this image taken by Charlottesville photographer Rufus W. Holsinger.

University of Virginia medal awarded to Confederate alumnus Nathaniel Hite Willis, June 1912.
Gift of Duncan and Jane McConnell (MSS 10082)

As part of the 1912 commemoration, the University of Virginia presented the alumni veterans with bronze medals struck for the occasion. These bore the words “University of Virginia MCMXII” on the obverse, and “Non ille pro caris amicis aut patria timidus perire” [“Unafraid for the friend of his heart or the cause of his country to die”] and “1861-65 The gift of Alma Mater to her son” on the reverse. This medal belonged to Nathaniel Hite Willis, who had attended the University in 1860.


Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands [Freedmen’s Bureau], Deed of gift, 6 May 1869.
Deposit of the Charlottesville City School Board (MSS 14210)

This deed conveys the Delevan building from the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands to the trustees of the Charlottesville schools. The gift was made “on the express condition that the building above described or the proceeds of a rental or sale thereof shall be perpetually devoted to educational purposes” and that no pupils would be excluded on the basis of race or previous condition of servitude. The freedmen’s school thus became the first public school in Charlottesville.

William Roads, Carte-de-visite photograph of Philena Carkin, no date.
Elizabeth Cocke Coles Fund (MSS 11123)

Philena Carkin, “Reminiscences of my Life and Work among the Freedmen of Charlottesville, Virginia, from March 1st 1866 to July 1st 1875. Vol. 1,” 1866-1875.
Elizabeth Cocke Coles Fund (MSS 11123

Carkin, pictured here in an image by Charlottesville photographer William Roads, was certified as a teacher of ex-slaves by the Eastern Department of the American Freedmen's Aid Commission; she subsequently spent 10 years at the Charlottesville freedmen’s school. In her “Reminiscences,” Carkin records her observations on the condition of the Virginia countryside as she traveled by train to Charlottesville: “Remnants of old uniforms, old canteens, and the bleaching bones of horses were scattered all about, while here and there stockades and other defensive works still remained.” Carkin also describes at length her impressions of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia, and daily life with her students.