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First in War

Nate Sterling ’14, Staff Writer

The Hampden-Sydney Boys were first to start drilling for the Civil War and the first to engage in a cross-fire shooting against enemy Confederates on July 11th of 1831. Retired chaplain of Hampden-Sydney College, Reverend William Thompson, has recently published his book titled First in War: The Hampden-Sydney Boys—signed editions are available in the Bookstore. Rev. Thompson is more than capable to write this historical account. He has an impressive repertoire of other historical accounts already published: Bad Friday: The Yankees Come to Hampden-Sydney and Her Walls before Thee Stand. Using the diaries of some of the Hampden-Sydney Boys and some of the newspapers, magazines, and obituaries of the time, Thompson has put together a narrative which unravels the thrilling tale about a handful of boys fighting in a war. This book is the first of its kind, looking specifically at the historical account of the Hampden-Sydney Boys, which consisted of Hampden-Sydney students, farmer-boys, and seminary school students, who all united together to ensure their fear of a “slave uprising,” as Rev. Thompson says, would be overcome. They began their training behind the cemetery, but were soon spooked to a new location fearing the symbolism lying beneath the gravestones. A total of ninety-six Hampden-Sydney Boys practiced marching together; the times for the scheduled marching were set for four o’clock: after classes. This was done to minimize the interference with their studies. Soon they were marching off into a real battle with Confederates. They carried their ten pound rifles with them along with food supplies and such as they headed northwest into Ohio (what’s now known as West Virginia). At each site encampment, the boys had to sleep outside, alack any tents, and thus susceptible to the weather. Rev. Thompson commented on the food situation; given their military training, I was surprised to find that many of “these boys had never cooked a day in their lives.” Rev. Thompson further explained that one such Hampden-Sydney Boy tried to cook chicken, but burned the outside while the inside stayed raw; this simple mistake resulted in diarrhea. Slaves were brought to make up for the ignorance in cooking matters. Along with the exciting story detailing the events surrounding the Hampden-Sydney Boys departure, there is a brief biography of the different Hampden-Sydney Boys. This section examines what exactly happened to these boys after the Civil War. This book accomplishes what it sets out to do and magnificently ties together the different events of such a radical and significant event in Hampden-Sydney’s history into a coherent narrative. Whether you’re a history buff or a Hampden-Sydney school affiliate, this book is for you to enjoy just prior to your long winter’s nap. Rev. Thompson also explained to me his current endeavor to write an informative account on the fourth passage in Cushing—coming soon!

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Fifty Years Ago: Hamden-Sydney Men Raid Longwood Panties

Nate Sterling ’14, Staff Writer

Just over fifty years ago on October 8th, Hampden-Sydney students committed what Dr. Thompson terms an “offensive act”: stealing the lingerie of Longwood students. That night, over one hundred Hampden-Sydney students gathered for this fiasco. Dr. John Brinkley documents a letter sent to the faculty, informing them of the rambunctious behavior of nearly half of the student body. The Hampden-Sydney students barged into the private living quarters of the Longwood students. Hurling “bricks through windows” and tearing “down screens,” the Hampden-Sydney students jolted awake the six hundred fifty female students attending Longwood. Flooding into the quarters, the Hampden-Sydney students fancied the idea of taking pictures, and so “cameras with flash-bulb attachments” were used to capture images of the “women students in their bedrooms.” During the whole episode, Longwood College students were reported to have been “roughly handled” by Hampden-Sydney students and “college hostesses” said to be “subjected to unbecoming language”; later, Dr. Thompson writes off this extremity as “many of the girls themselves did not seem particularly distressed.” After a night of chaos and much hubbub, the men carried the lingerie and a “quantity of feminine clothing” off.

Upon the glorious arrival of the morning sun, a whole list of various personal clothing articles was reported missing, and in particular, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, there was “an acute shortage of lingerie.” Unfortunately, Longwood students had to use the “unmentionables” of others to wear to classes. Presumably, the one hundred Hampden-Sydney students stored this impressive load of lingerie without any intentions of bringing it back. This full-out panty raid aroused the attention of the president of Longwood College, Dr. Daney S. Lancaster; demanding an immediate “no-date edict,” Pres. Lancaster was adamant that the perpetrators be caught and punished for their offenses to the Longwood students. A report in The Free Lance Star lists the actions the Hampden-Sydney Student Assembly agreed to take; the first being to “provide suspensions for some of the leaders of the panty raid,” and secondly to reimburse “the loss suffered by Longwood girls estimated at $250 to $300 in lingerie.” Nevertheless, Pres. Lancaster would not have it — no raiders were named and only a “short term” suspension was offered. Thus, Pres. Lancaster continued his ban, which prohibited the dating of Hampden-Sydney students with Longwood students. Romance between the two colleges was stunted, and Hampden-Sydney men would have to get creative, seeking romance in other distant colleges such as Sweet Briar.

Justice was served according to an editorial by Dr. Thompson. There were “one hundred-plus students,” admitting their roles in the panty raid, “and took without a whimper the various degrees of punishment meted out to them by the Student Assembly.” Although this act was condemned as offensive and revealed a lack of “insight” in the “shortcomings of youth,” honor was regained through the disciplinary measures taken by the Student Assembly and the men who admitted to their roles in the affair.

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