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For Brotherhood and DutyThe Civil War History of the West Point Class of 1862$
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Brian R. McEnany

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813160627

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813160627.001.0001

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Crises of Conscience

Crises of Conscience

Chapter:
(p.57) 3 Crises of Conscience
Source:
For Brotherhood and Duty
Author(s):

Brian R. McEnany

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813160627.003.0003

During the summer of 1860, political campaigns, the split in the Democratic Party, and sectionalism further increased tensions between cadets. As a result of the election of Lincoln and initial secession of states, the first resignations at West Point came from this class. When Fort Sumter was fired upon, one of the cadets’ former classmates, Henry Farley from South Carolina, fired the first shot. Descriptions of how the oaths of allegiance forced crises of conscience among the remaining Southern cadets resulted in the final resignations that halved the class by the end of summer in 1861. Within a month after Fort Sumter, the first class was graduated early and headed for Washington to train a growing army and the second class was alerted to graduate early. Congress and the citizens of America decried the loss of cadets and officers from serving the Union they swore to uphold. Respect for the Military Academy across the country is lost.

Keywords:   Secession, Loss of Southern Cadets, Fort Sumter, Class of May 1861, Oaths of Allegiance, Resignations

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