Outbreak of War at Dickinson College

The Dickinson College student body was evenly divided between Northern and Southern students who fought on both sides of the conflict. The split is well documented in Dickinson College class of 1861 student Francis Benjamin Sellers’ Autograph Album for the Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Taken from the Phi Kappa Sigma News Letter, Fall, 1954:

“On April 21, 1861, Epsilon held its last meeting shortly past midnight. All of the members gathered in the room of John. E McCahan and Francis B. Sellers in West College and dispensed with the usual forms of business so that the brothers could say their last farewells before leaving for their respective armies.”

Dickinson College students expected to encounter one another on the battlefield, which is reflected in the comments left in the autograph album. Howard Kennedy Weber class of 1863 remarked: “If I wear the “Phi Kap” badge, don’t shoot me Frank.”

Other Dickinson College students featured in Sellers’ album that fought in the conflict include fellow classmates Elbridge Hoffman Gerry, James Glasgow Archer, William Miller Ogilby and Ernest Dudley Martin.

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Posted in Civil War (1861-1865)

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