In its first decade, the Fraternity faced many challenges. First, because Norwich was a military school, the University lost a large number of cadets to the Civil War. Second, a massive fire erupted on the Norwich campus in the spring of 1866, destroying the many of the Fraternity’s historical records.
Between the aftermath of the war, the fire, and the general uncertainty regarding the University’s future, enrollment at Norwich dropped dramatically. In 1881, the student body of Norwich was comprised of 12 students, and Theta Chi found itself with only one active member, James M. Holland. Holland, with the help of local alumni, managed to keep the Fraternity afloat by recruiting two new initiates.
After 1888 the affairs of the University took a decided turn for the better, and Alpha chapter flourished at Norwich.