Foreword By Pete Dawkins Historic West Point

 

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With its foreword by West Point Rhodes Scholar and Heisman Trophy winner, Pete Dawkins, The Parting is the true and epic story of the “band of brothers” of the West Point Class of 1861 that experienced its last year at the Academy on the eve of the Civil War before confronting each other in the first major battle of the war. The book's cover artwork features a period photograph of cadets conducting field artillery drill on the Plain at West Point. Pictured on the cover are the story’s protagonist John Pelham from Alabama and his close friend Edmund Kirby from New York. The story unfolds in flashbacks from the days leading up to and including the First Battle of Bull Run, and chronicles the divisive issues of slavery, states' rights, the election of Abraham Lincoln, the unraveling of a nation, the formation of another, and the cat and mouse game that is Fort Sumter. The cadet and military characters in The Parting are real and their deeds and fates are recorded history. Pelham’s friends include George Armstrong Custer and the abolitionist Emory Upton. Pelham, who would be lauded in the war as "The Gallant Pelham" by Robert E. Lee, is the most popular man in his class as well as the best artillerist, horseman, and swordsman, but like Custer also has the most demerits. Central to the story is Pelham’s relationship with the beautiful Clara Bolton from Philadelphia who, with her five girlfriends from Clermont College for Women on Long Island, spends a chaperoned week at the West Point Hotel, barely two hundred yards from the most eligible bachelors in the country. 

Other key cadet characters include Thomas Rosser (Pelham’s roommate, and later a major general covering Lee’s retreat from Richmond—highlighted in Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln), Henry du Pont (of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours family), Adelbert Ames, Nate Chambliss, Charles Patterson, Walter Kingsbury, and Patrick O'Rorke—all with notable war and post-war records (for those who survived). Other characters in the story include Jefferson Davis, Fitzhugh Lee (Robert E. Lee’s nephew), Oliver O. Howard (founder of Howard University), JEB Stuart, Thomas (later Stonewall) Jackson, P. G. T. Beauregard, Richard Delafield, William Hardee, and John Reynolds.


Oil Painting, "Encampment on the Plain," by William Guy Wall, 1862

Courtesy of Thomas Petrie

 


 

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