The Old Museum at Manassas

Last update
Jul 13, 2005

Charles Robert Norris
May 12, 1844 - July 21, 1861

Virginia Military Institute Cadet, Killed in Action at First Manassas

In late April of 1861, Charles R. Norris of Leesburg was among ten Virginia Military Institute (V.M.I.) cadets ordered to escort a shipment of gunpowder to Harpers Ferry where former V.M.I. professor Thomas J. Jackson was organizing Confederate forces. Jackson retained the cadets to drill his untrained troops. In his excitement, Norris wrote home. "You need not send for me or want me to come home for I would not leave for a thousand dollars...." In July, Norris joined in the movement of General Jackson's command to Manassas Junction.

On July 21, 1861, Cadet Norris was the acting captain of Company B, 27th Virginia Infantry. When Jackson ordered a charge against the Union artillery on Henry Hill, Norris led his company with the cry, "Come on boys, quick, and we can whip them!" Within minutes the 17 year old cadet, wearing this V.M.I dress coatee, was struck in the left shoulder and fell dead. The next day Joseph L. Norris, a brother in the Virginia Militia, recovered the body and brought it home to Leesburg for burial.

V.M.I. Dress coatee and Portrait, Courtesy Charles R. Norris III & Family of Leesburg, Virginia

Colorful Confusion Francis Brownell