Magazine article American Libraries

Pilfered in Civil War, Rare Book Returned

Magazine article American Libraries

Pilfered in Civil War, Rare Book Returned

Article excerpt

Nearly 145 years after it was taken by a Union soldier during a raid on Lexington, Virginia, a book on the Napoleonic Wars has found its way back to the special collections department of Washington and Lee University. Charles S. Gates, of the 54th Pennsylvania Infantry, pilfered it from Washington College, as it was then called, on June 11, 1864, when Union Gen. David Hunter raided the town and burned the neighboring Virginia Military Institute.

Gates noted the theft in an inscription on a blank page, but mistook it as belonging to VMI. Nonetheless, W&L Technical Services Librarian Laura Turner stated April 15, "It's clearly our book, since it has 'Washington College' handwritten on the title page that other volumes of that era have, and also matches perfectly volume two in that series, which is still in our possession."

The book, volume one of William Francis Patrick Napier's History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France from the Year 1807 to the Year 1814, published in Philadelphia in 1842, was returned to the Leyburn Library by Lake Forest (III. …

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