History would date the beginning of the conflict from the bombardment of Fort Sumter, rather than the earlier firing three months before on the Star of the West. Thus, the Cadets were relieved of the burden of responsibility for the devastating conflict which was about to unfold.
In preparation for war efforts, on January 28,1861, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an act combining the Arsenal and Citadel into one institution:
I. That the Arsenal Academy and the Citadel Academy shall retain the same distinctive titles, but they shall together constitute and be entitled, "The South Carolina Military Academy."
II. That the officers and students thereof, organized as "a Public Guard," into one or more companies at each Academy, shall constitute a military corps, entitled "the Battalion of State Cadets. That said battalion shall be part of the military organization of the State, under the separate and immediate control of the Board of Visitors, and shall not be subject to the command of the militia officers, except when specially ordered for parade, review, or service by the commander-in-chief; that the officers of said battalion shall be commissioned by the Governor, with such rank and titles (the highest not exceeding that of Major) as the Board of Visitors may determine; provided nevertheless, that the officers of said battalion may be removed by the Board of Visitors and their commissions thereby vacated, in like manner as is now provided for in the second Section of the said Act, for the removal of professors of the Academy; that the said battalion of State Cadets, while habitually maneuvering as infantry, may yet maneuver in any arm of the service, and shall take the right of all troops of the same arm in which it may at any time parade.
III. That all graduates of the South Carolina Military Academy, in consideration of their four years service at the said Academy, shall be eligible to any commissioned office, not above the grade of colonel, in the military organization of the State.
Information from Cadets in Gray, the Story of the Cadets of the South Carolina Military Academy and the Cadet Rangers in the Civil War by Gary R. Baker.