College students have been ditching classes for centuries, but rarely in such numbers as to effect the educational institution. Even the most casual observer would have known that this was no ordinary skipping of classes at the University of Mississippi in May 1861. Out of the 139 students enrolled, 135 left the school on May 4 to enlist with the Confederacy to fight in the Civil War. With such a mass exodus of students, the University was forced to temporarily close its doors.
Any hopes of seeing these students-turned-soldiers return to their studies were disappointed. The classmates enlisted in Company A of the 11th Mississippi and became known as the University Greys. They fought together for two years until the Battle of Gettysburg. As key participants in Pickett’s Charge, the Greys penetrated further into the Union position than any other unit, they paid an extremely heavy price. Every soldier in the Greys was either killed or wounded, leaving the University Greys with a 100% casualty rate.