The Washington Post had an interesting article about a wayward library book. The story was published across the country this week - Bruce Perdue sent a link to a shorter article in the Chicago Tribune. Non-numismatic, but of interest to bibliophiles. -Editor Soon after the end of the Civil War, a thousand or so books looted from Washington College library during a raid by Union soldiers were returned.
Another has shown up almost 145 years later, the school, now known as Washington and Lee University, announced yesterday, brought in by a book-loving college coach from Illinois, who inherited it from the soldier's descendants and tracked down the library where it belonged.
"We were astounded to get something back with the history that it has," said Laura Turner, technical services librarian at the Lexington, Va., school. "It's invaluable to us because of the historical connection to the university. We're just so grateful that he decided to return it."
The leather-bound book, Volume 1 of a four-volume history of a Napoleonic military campaign, probably was stashed in a saddlebag, perhaps to save it from the blaze Union soldiers set to destroy the neighboring Virginia Military Institute on June 12, 1864, according to a book dealer who helped the coach, Mike Dau, unravel its story.
In June 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, Maj. Gen. David Hunter led troops assigned to cut the Virginia Central Railroad. On June 11, they swept into Lexington and occupied the town. They burned the Virginia Military Institute, which trained Confederate troops, and looted the neighboring Washington College campus.
Goodheart contacted Turner, and they exchanged photocopies of the title pages of the two volumes. "They matched exactly," Turner said. There was also a small label, added by the library in the 1800s, when books were numbered instead of catalogued to keep track of them. Volume 1, in Dau's possession, was 139. Volume 2, the copy in the library, was 140.
"Volumes three and four are out there somewhere," Turner said with a laugh. "We'd love to have them back!"
To read the complete article, see: Long-Wayward History Volume Has Quite a History Itself (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/15/AR2009041502000.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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