Book Review: For Brotherhood and Duty: The Civil War History of the West Point Class of 1862


by Brian R. McEnany

Lexigton: University Press of Kentucky, 2015. Pp. xii, 494. Illus., maps, tables, append., notes, biblio., index. $45.00. ISBN: 0813160626

The Men of West Point at War Against Each Other

McEnany, a member of the Class of 1962, who has written and lectured widely on the Civil War, takes a look at the Military Academy and the nearly 100 young men who entered it in 1858. 

Although McEnany’s focus is the 28 men who actually graduated in 1862, a year early due to the war, he also covers those who dropped out, were expelled, or resigned, some going on to serve in the Volunteer Army and others joining the Rebellion. Two members of the class became brigadier generals, the brilliant Ranald S. Mackenzie in Blue, who post war made a name for himself on the frontier, and James Dearing in Gray, who died of wounds in the last days of the war, with his erstwhile classmate at his side.

This is a very rich work. We get a look at the Academy in considerable detail, including the complication entry process, curriculum, academic life, social activities, and military training. In this part of the book McEnany gives us short profiles of the many officers and cadets who played a part in life of the Class of 1862 while at the academy. McEnany also gives us an outline history of the Civil War from 1862 onwards, with some good battle pieces and personal accounts, as he follows the men – both graduates and non-graduates – at war, in which most saw action in the Eastern Theatre, though some were campaigned as far afield as the Red River

In the course of following these men, McEnany also throws light on details of military life in the period, such as camp routine, working a battery in action, infantry tactics, and so forth.

For Brotherhood and Duty, a volume in the UPK “American Warriors Series,” is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the Civil War or the history of West Point.

For Brotherhood and Duty received the New York Military Affairs Symposium ( 2015 Eugene Feit Award for the best new book in Civil War studies  


Note: For Brotherhood and Duty is also available in e-pub, ISBN 978-0-8131-6064-1, and web pdf format, ISBN 978-0-8131-6063-4, $45.00



Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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