CIRCA 1852 VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE SOCIETE DE CADETS CERTIFICATE FOR WILLIAM OVERALL YAGER

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William Overall Yager: Virginia Military Institute, Société de Cadets Certificate, circa 1852, one page vellum with ink notations on the verso, 15¾" x 19½", partially printed on vellum, in French. The certificate, or diploma, confers W. O. Yager with membership in the Société de Cadets and the title Comte de Pagé.

William Overall Yager (3 April 1833 – 1904) was, during the American Civil War, initially the major and commanding officer of Yager's Third Battalion Texas Mounted Volunteers, and then later, as colonel and commanding officer of the First Texas (Yager's) Cavalry (CSA), and, in postwar years, member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia, Superintendent of Schools, and Treasurer for Page County, Virginia.

Yager was born and raised in Page County, Virginia, a son of Nicholas Wesley Yager and Christina Williams Overall Yager.  In 1848, he matriculated at the Virginia Military Institute, graduating four years later, fifth in his class, with fellow Page countians Simeon Beauford Gibbons and Hiram Jackson Strickler, as well as later Confederate notables, Thomas T. Munford, James A. Walker, Joseph C. Mayo, and George Smith Patton, Sr. One of the signatures on his diploma was that of Thomas Jonathan Jackson. Following graduation, Yager worked briefly as a banker in Virginia, and soon after traveled to Kansas with fellow Page countian and VMI classmate Hiram Jackson Strickler, taking with him several slaves, including a valet. While in Kansas, Strickler and Strickler had real estate transactions together, most apparently being in Shawnee County. As part of the many transactions, Yager conveyed one-half interest in Lucknow to Strickler, and Strickler conveyed one-half interest in Bellmont to Yager.

Relocating to Texas, Yager settled in Seguin, Guadalupe County, where he met Mary Elizabeth Rhodes, whom he later married, in 1863. Rhodes could also claim roots in Yager's native county, being a descendant of John Rhodes, who had been killed in an Indian massacre in the county in the mid-18th century. The couple later had five children to include one son and four daughters.

Yager joined the Confederate service as a 1st lieutenant, in April, 1861, and served initially as adjutant for the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles, also known as McCulloch's Regiment. He spent the autumn and winter of 1861 with this unit in Central Texas and engaged in sporadic negotiations and skirmishes with local Indian groups. In December 1861, McClloch recommended Yager as commander of a cavalry battalion, and, when the First Regiment was reduced to a battalion of five companies and re-designated the Eighth Texas Cavalry Battalion, in April 1862, Yager was Yager was authorized to form his new cavalry battalion. This unit, when organized, was designated the Third Texas Cavalry Battalion, also referred to as Yager's Third Battalion Texas Mounted Volunteers. When the Eighth and Third Texas Cavalry Battalions were consolidated, on May 2, 1863, and renamed the First Texas Cavalry Regiment, Yager was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and second in command, with Col. Augustus Carl Buchel as commanding officer. Following Buchel's mortal in action at the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, on April 9, 1864, Yager was elevated to colonel and command of the regiment. Yager held this post until the end of the war.

Following the Civil War, Yager remained in Texas, into the 1870s, before returning with his family to his native Page County. In subsequent years, he served as representative for the county in the Virginia House of Delegates (1874–1875) and the Virginia Senate (1879–80). At the end of his term in the senate, Yager became active in county affairs, first serving as Superintendent of Schools (1880), and later as Treasurer of Page Co. (1884–1896). Yager died in Page County, on January 20, 1904, and was buried in the Yager family crypt in Luray, Virginia.

The document is signed by the president and secretary as well as all twenty-two members of the Société's Class of 1852. Notable members and signatures include: George S. Patton, colonel commanding the 22nd Virginia Infantry, mortally wounded at the Battle of Opequon in 1864, and grandfather of General George S. Patton IV; James A. Walker, expelled from VMI shortly before graduation for challenging an instructor, Thomas J. Jackson, to a duel. Walker later served under Jackson as a colonel and was promoted to general and given command of the Stonewall Brigade upon Jackson's death in May 1863. He led the brigade during the Gettysburg Campaign, where his regiment participated in the attacks on Culp's Hill. He was badly wounded at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House and invalided out of the service in 1864; Simeon B. Gibbons, colonel of the 10th Virginia Infantry, killed in May 1862 at the Battle of McDowell; Thomas T. Munford, who served in the Confederate Army from May 1861 until he dispersed his troops after Lee's surrender at Appomattox in 1865. He reached the rank of general and commanded Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry division; Joseph C. Mayo, colonel commanding the 3rd Virginia Infantry; and others.

Click here for a link to a roster for Yager’s 1852 graduating class at VMI.

Attractively framed with museum glass with UV coating, ready to hang on the wall of an office or den. Engraved brass plaques are beautifully done!

We highly recommend that if you purchase this item that you either pick it up here at the shop, or we can deliver it at any of the militaria shows we take part in.  [ss]

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