When the Civil War began in the Spring of 1861, most of the regularly enrolled cadets were sent to Richmond, Virginia, to serve as drillmasters for new army recruits. Back in Lexington, the Institute opened its doors to new students who desired a brief course in military training in preparation for entering the Confederate Army. This circular, printed in May 1861, was sent to these prospective cadets, who would be "organized into classes for instruction in infantry, artillery, and cavalry tactics, in field fortification, strategy and pyrotechny...." Most of these trainees stayed for three months or less.
The printed portion of the document outlines the proposed training regimen and lists estimated monthly expenses. This particular document was mailed to Christopher Damron, a lawyer in Allegheny County, who had inquired about enrolling his sons (they did not enroll) A handwritten note from VMI's treasurer William S. Polk to Mr. Damron appears at the bottom of the document.