The Virginia Regiment
December 9, 1847
The Virginia Regiment
It is now nearly a year since this gallant regiment began to assemble in our city preparatory to its departure for Mexico. The brightest prospects of employment and distinction then spread before our volunteers. Danger and Glory seemed to beckon them from the Rio Grande, and with hearts buoyant with hope and courage, they left our shores. Virginia had as yet enjoyed no opportunity to evince her devotion to the cause of the country, and to prove that the brave blood of the Revolution was yet flowing richly in her veins. Such an opportunity seemed then at hand.
But, unfortunately, they arrived at the scene of operations too late, The battle of Buena Vista had just occurred. That terrible reaper, Old Zack, had just passed his sickle through the Mexican harvest, and left not a grain of peril or honor to be gleaned. Since that period the government has retained him and his brother Virginians on the line of the Rio Grande. Consequently the flag of our Commonwealth has had no opportunity, and probably will not have, of waving side by side in the field of strife with the banner of the Union.
Notwithstanding all this, we claim for the Virginia regiment as large a share of the respect of our people as if it had exhibited its prowess in battle. The mere fighting, especially in such a war as this with Mexico, forms but a small portion of the soldier's duties. The duties, for example, of guarding trains, garrisoning cities, and the listlessness of the camp itself, are among the most severe tests of soldierly qualities, because the very humility of the task, the absence of all excitement, the temptations to excess and insubordination which a monotonous camp life presents, can only be resisted by men who have fully learned fidelity, obedience and discipline. Our Virginians have successfully borne these tests. Their courage none can doubt who know the materials of which our regiment is composed.
We have heard from various sources much in regard to the conduct and condition of the Virginia regiment. We are proud to learn that not a single act of excess or lawlessness has disgraced our flag. We are informed that at Monterey, Saltillo, and wherever they have been stationed, the Mexican people have regarded them with both respect and admiration, feeling themselves more secure under their protection, than that of any other regiment, or of their own troops. We are informed upon high authority that for discipline proficiency in the drill, numerical strength, the physical ability of the men, and the accomplishments of the officers, the Virginia regiment is pronounced by competent judges the best in Mexico, and that both Gen. Taylor and Gen Wool rely upon it as the main dependence to support their batteries in case of an assault by the enemy. In matters usually deemed of less importance, the uniformity of their dress and the good and beautiful appearance of their weapons, we learn that they are fully equal to even our first volunteer companies of the city
Much credit is due for all this to the skill and judgment of the officers, as well as to the excellent behaviour of the men. Col. Hamtramck, Col. Randolph, Major Early, and their brother officers, have proved themselves fully worthy the confidence which the State has reposed in their hands. Col. Hamtramck has for some months past drilled his regiment twice a day, and the result is seen in the efficient condition of his command. The most rigid police has been instituted by this able officer in regard to the food and clothing of the men, the best commentary upon which is to be found in the fact that the Virginia regiment has lost fewer men by death than any other in Mexico!
We are informed that the gallant Col. Randolph is at present in command of the Virginia regiment, while Col. Hamtramck is at the head of the Brigade, and occupies the responsible position just vacated by Gen. Wool.
What the events of the future may be, no human sagacity can determine; but should our Virginians be tried in the field, we feel abiding confidence that our flag will be covered with glory. Should they return after a bloodless campaign, we feel equally sure that they will bring back their shield unstained by dishonor. Richmond Republican.
Military and Wartime