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"Cadet Paul Faison to his father regarding resigning his commission at West Point," April 12 and 14, 1861


"Cadet Paul Faison to his father regarding resigning his commission at West Point," April 12 and 14, 1861


The Faisons were among the first settlers of Northampton County and owned land and a plantation near the town of Jackson, the county seat. Herod and Gulielma Shepherd Faison's seven children included Paul Fletcher who was a cadet at West Point just before North Carolina seceded from the Union. In these letters, Cadet Faison writes to his father discussing the issue of secession and what that might mean to his military career and education at West Point.


Paul Faisons


"Cadet Paul Faison to his father regarding resigning his commission at West Point," April 12 and 14, 1861. Faisons, Paul. North Carolina Digital Archive. Accessed April 17, 2012.






West Point, New York
Orange County, New York
Northampton County, North Carolina

Original Format



West Point N.Y. April 12, 1861
Dear Father Since,
I last wrote you [ev]ents have been daily occuring which leads to the conviction that there will be no compromise, and that the border states will be compelled to secede however unwilling they may be to do so. You yourself who love the Union; and as every right minded man ought, were its privileges conceded to each and every part of it: and would look with sorrow upon its disruption stated I think in one of your letters to me that unless such a compromise was effected on the basis of that of Critendens, that you were for secession. Now no such compromise has been effected, despite the patriotic exertions of the border states, nor is it probable there will be, the Republicans within wish nor will grant any, their policy ividently seems to be coercion, and war is declared by their journals to be inevitable. What else means the collection and dispatch of troops to the relief of Forts Supter & Pickens, and the calling out of the militia throughout the North and in the District of Columbia. Now should such an event occur as everybody are daily expecting will, there is no doubt in my mind but that North Carolina would secede immeadiately. Such being the case would it not be policy for me to resign now.
My intention being whenever I should do so to enter the regular Army of the Confederate States, and that of arms, to be my profession through life unless something unforeseen should prevent. The advantage [of] so doing will be, that I can certainly procure a Lieutenancy corresponding to my class rank here. You may say that I can procure a commission when my state secedes or after graduating, this I grant, but could I do it with the relative rank I should have were I to accept one now? No. I could not: it would be unreasonable to expect it, in consideration of their longer services. Now rank next to distinction, and the higher it be the greater is the command and consequently the more numerous probable will be the opportunities of attaining it; forms the chief aim of a soldier. There are more contentions and jealousies over this in the army than every thing else put together. Were I thus to wait, all my classmates who have left, and even those of the lower class would then be several grades above me. Men who I have been accustomed to command & rank for years would then be my superiors. Such a course would be opposed to on of the strongest principles of human nature and which I admit that I havent the moral courage to submit to. I should have to seek another mode of employment or in another country, neither of which would I believe conducive to my happiness. Moreove[r] should I leave I can obtain a certificate of proficiency nearly equal in value to a diploma and in the same form.

West Point N. Y. April 14th 1861
Dear Father.
Since my letter of the 12th war has begun, as I anticipated at the time of writing it. It would now be treasonable for me to remain longer with my present feelings and sintiments. I am now in the pay and service of a government at whose defeat I rejoice and over whose victory I grieve. This feeling I can neither control or change, the only thing then left for me to do is to relieve myself as soon as possible from any obligation I owe it.
There is also good authority for supposing (A professor being told so by the Secty of War) that the Corps will be ordered on to Washington to serve as a body guard to the President. Should this be so I shall peremptorily refuse, it being highly revolting to my conscience, nature and every sentiment of honor. The consequence would be dismissal or severe punishment. My telegraphic dispatch will indicate how desirous I am of an early answer. Hoping this consideration if none other will prove the necessity of my resigning. I remain your affectionate son as ever. Paul Faison All the representatives here from N. Car. expect to resign


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Paul Faisons, "Cadet Paul Faison to his father regarding resigning his commission at West Point," April 12 and 14, 1861, Civil War Era NC, accessed April 19, 2024,