Early on the morning of 4 April 1865, Union Gen John T. Croxton's Cavalry Brigade of 1500 veteran troopers entered the town after fighting the home guard and capturing the covered bridge connecting Northport and Tuscaloosa across the Warrior River. While a detachment of Federals proceeded to capture two pieces of artillery stored at the Broad St. livery stable, Pat Kehoe of the Alabama Insane Hospital hurried to the University of Alabama to warn of the soldier's approach. University president Landon C. Garland ordered the guardhouse drummers to "beat the long roll" to awaken the 300 sleeping cadets. Quickly forming into ranks, the three companies began their march from campus into town. A platoon from Co. C, under Capt John H. Murfee, formed as skirmishers and forged ahead to the corner of Greensboro Ave. and Broad St. University Blvd.) where they encountered the enemy from the 6th Ky Cav Regt. In the ensuing firefight, Capt Murfee was wounded along with three cadets, W. R. May, Aron T. Kendrick and William M. King. The Union pickets then retreated down the hill back toward the bridge.
The bloodied cadet platoon rejoined the main body of the Corps which had advanced at the sound of fighting. Together they proceeded one block north to the brow of River Hill and took up positions, firing several volleys down on the Union enemy by the river. Learning from a Confederate officer who had been captured and temporarily released by Croxton that the Yankee force included 1500 arms and the two captured cannons, President Garland and Commandant of Cadets Colonel James T. Murfee decided that an attack with teen-aged boys would be a useless sacrifice. The Corps marched the 1 1/2 miles back to the campus, fortified themselves with what provisions were available, and continued east on Huntsville Rd. Crossing Hurricane Creek some eight miles from town, they unplanked the bridge and entrenched themselves on the east bank. Croxton did not pursue, instead exploding the University's ammunition supplies and setting the campus ablaze. After witnessing the destruction from afar, the cadets marched east, then south to Marion. There, the Corps disbanded with orders to re-form in one month's time; the war ended in the interval.