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I'm a Virginian, sir. Soon to be an officer in the great army of the Confederacy. I not only know what I'm talking about, I'm prepared to die for it.
~ -Shelby expresses his Pro-Confederate views.

Shelby Peyton is the protagonist villain of the historical TV movie Class of '61. He is a top-of-his-class cadet at West Point, but leaves rather than graduate to fight in the Civil War due to his pro-slavery and pro-secession view. He is thusly a protagonist villain, prepared to fight, kill, and even die to maintain the institution of slavery in the South, which puts him at odds with his fellow West Point comrades Custer and O'Neil (the latter of whom has a sister who Shelby loves and impregnates).

On his family plantation, Shelby enjoys a "friendship" with his favorite slave, Lucius, who does not agree with his master's Anti-Abolitionist worldview and in fact tries to run with his lover to freedom. Her pregnancy forces Lucius to return her to the plantation, but as Shelby had intended to give Lucius his freedom anyway, he lets Lucius leave. Lucius then goes on the Underground Railroad to freedom.

Meanwhile, Shelby continues to fight for the Confederacy, still convinced that it's cause is right and that the South have the right to secede. Things come to a head in the Battle of Bull Run, in which Confederate forces that includes Shelby gun down scores of Union soldiers, including Shelby's own former West Point teacher, who has gone off to serve on the Union side. Shaken by the massive amount of death and ashamed of himself for his part in it, Shelby has an epiphany on the horrors of warfare and breaks down, weeping over the body of his former teacher. Text at the end of the movie confirms that Shelby would die later in the Civil War, as would his friend O'Neil, but that Shannen, Lucius, and Shelby's other West-Point friend Custer would live.