It is July 18, 1861 in Winchester, Virginia. The Civil War has begun, and Lieutenant John Pelham, formerly of the West Point Class of 1861, is about to play a pivotal role in the First Battle of Bull Run. The con dent Lieutenant Pelham bears little resemblance to the seventeen-year-old who journeyed alone ve years earlier from Jacksonville, Alabama, to West Point, New York, to attend the United States Military Academy. As he immerses himself in West Point, both Pelham's life and his beloved country see substantial change. While Pelham and his classmates witness the unraveling of the Union and the birth of the Confederacy, Pelham meets Clara Bolton, a Philadelphian belle who captures his heart-all while Pelham and his compatriots are preparing for the reality of combat. Told against the backdrop of slavery and states' rights, the Democratic and Republican Parties, the re-eaters of the South and the abolitionists of the North, The Parting portrays how profoundly historical events divided West Point's graduating class of 1861 on the eve of the Civil War, changing all of their lives forever.