When Sean Heuvel decided to write a book about the Civil War history of the College of William and Mary, the source of his inspiration was clear.
"I'd always been captivated by the Civil War memorial tablet in the Wren Building," the 2002 W&M graduate and Christopher Newport University American Studies professor says.
"And (I) wanted to lean more about the experience of the college and its people during that conflict."
So did Sean's mother, Lisa, a 1974 W&M graduate who had returned to the college to earn advanced degrees in education in 2005 and 2011.
As a free-lance journalist who went on to work for both the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and Colonial Williamsburg, she'd followed her passion for history throughout her working career.
And teaming with her son to research and write "The College of William and Mary During the Civil War" gave her a rich opportunity to pursue her fascination with the intertwined history of the college, the war and Williamsburg.
"Both Sean and I wanted to understand why this historic period was overshadowed by the colonial era," she says.
"It seems to me that we now understand not only why that happened, but how."
Drawing mainly upon records housed at the college's Earl Gregg Swem Library, the pair explored the experience of a pioneering higher education institution that sustained wave after wave of violence and destruction during the war, including a late 1862 fire that destroyed the historic Wren Building.
They also traced the roles of college graduates who served on both sides of the conflict, ranging from Union Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott, who led the Federal army at the war's onset and developed the Anaconda Doctrine that determined the North's strategic aims, to W&M president and Confederate Col. Benjamin Ewell, who led the South's forces on the Peninsula early in the war and developed the line of earthen forts anchored by Fort Magruder.
Also published in the book for the first time in many cases are numerous rare photographs from the era.
"One thing that really excites me about the book is that several of the images contained in it -- from Swem's special collections -- are being seen for the first time in print," Sean says.
"The College of William and Mary in the Civil" is published by McFarland and available in soft cover for $40.
-- Mark St. John Erickson
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