Bound by family loyalties, West Point cadets Shelby Peyton (Dan Futterman), George Armstrong Custer (Joshua Lucas) and Devin O'Neil (Clive Owen) become reluctant enemies when war erupts. Peyton, a Confederate lieutenant, follows his heart and continues pursuing O'Neil's sister, Shannen (Sophie Ward) despite warnings from her Union-loyal father (Niall O'Brien). Meanwhile, Union lieutenants Custer and O'Neil are in for trouble when they become romantically involved with Washington socialites who are not quite what they seem to be. From the antebellum mansions of the South to the halls of the Washington elite, this rich portrait captures the innocence and intrigue of America during a time of tremendous upheaval. A compelling story of courage and personal conviction, it reveals a war without winners, a war defined by the destruction it causes. 'Class of '61' skilfully blends history with humanity to expose the war that pitted America against itself: North against South, friend against friend, brother against brother.