A Narrative History of the West Point Class of 1962 (1858 to 1865)

by Brian McEnany to be Published in 2009

Photo Credit – USA MHI
There have been many histories written about West Point and its graduates, but the set of circumstances surrounding the Academy at the beginning of the Civil War are not likely to be seen again. With the secession of the southern states and the firing upon Fort Sumter, the cadets in the Class of 1862 were faced with divided loyalties. Would they choose to defend their families and states or bear allegiance to the Union they had sworn to uphold?
The 28 members of the class served primarily with the Army of the Potomac. Taught by many that later commanded them in battle, the members of the class became second or third officers in many regular artillery units, the engineer staffs of the various armies or at various arsenals. One member of the class was promoted to major general of cavalry within two years; one received the Medal of Honor; one ex-member fired the first round at Fort Sumter; one member accepted the last surrender of Confederate units in the eastern theater in the mountains of North Carolina.

The voices of the cadets themselves speak eloquently about their doubts and fears at West Point and throughout the war. Remembrances describes how they reacted to the beginnings of the war at West Point, the impact of resignations by half the class, and how these events created a group of cadets with strongly held beliefs in support of the Union. Their contributions during various battles are described and, where information has been found, the activities of some of their southern classmates are included. By the end of the war, many were wounded and only four were lost. This extraordinary group of young men would have a continuing impact upon the Army for years to come.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s