Field of Lost Shoes: The Movie and the History

“Every year a parade is held at VMI to honor cadets who gave their lives at a turning point during the American Civil War. On May 16, 1864, seven friends marched into the Battle of New Market…only four came out.” If you have seen the 2014 film “Field of Lost Shoes,” then you may recognize these words from the very beginning of the film as the camera pans over cadets marching across the fields of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA. This film is the dramatization of a real event, the Battle of New Market, that occurred right here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia during the American Civil War, and whether or not you’ve seen the film, it’s a fascinating story and an interesting place to visit.

According to the VMI website, the cadets “helped close the gap” so that the Confederate forces could push the Union army back and force Sigel to retreat. At this point, Breckenridge and his men were able to secure the Shenandoah Valley for the Confederate Army. It was during this battle that may of the cadets lost their shoes to the thick mud as a result of heavy rain and “freshly plowed soil.” It thus became known as the “Field of Lost Shoes.”

Want to see this place for yourself? Check out the Annual Reenactment, the Virginia Museum of the Civil War (which is closed for renovations at the moment, but will re-open after January 9), or take yourself on a self-guided battlefield tour. And nothing completes your tour through time like a stay at a historic bed & breakfast. Click here to check out our Shenandoah Valley B&Bs.