Curious about the Confederacy, and Virginia's role in it? But you're pressed for time, and don't want to commit to days of reading?
Here's the book for you: "Remembering Virginia's Confederates," hot off the press at Arcadia Publishing.
This slender, tote-friendly volume offers a pictorial history of key people and places that gave the Old Dominion its enduring reputation in America's bloodiest conflict.
Author Sean M. Heuvel, a historian at Christopher Newport University, says he wanted to provide a quick glimpse into a wide range of enticing topics.
His book, which Arcadia has paired with a handsome set of postcards of period images, admirably fills a gap in the literature.
Heuvel will be at the Fredericksburg Area Museum this Saturday to sign copies of his work and meet people interested in the subject.
"I tried to be very analytical, to take a little of the emotion and politics out of it," he said in an interview this week. "The war caused wounds that have yet to fully heal. And it's worth exploring why Virginia contributed so heavily to the Confederate war effort.
"With the sesquicentennial close at hand, I hope to help start a dialogue about the war's true causes and consequences--to examine it from different vantage points, and to explore what it meant to American society."
Retired Army Col. J.E.B. Stuart IV encouraged and facilitated Heuvel's research, which unearthed a wide array of public and private collections.
Stuart, the great-grandson of the famed Confederate cavalry general, penned a gracious foreword in which he acknowledges continuing divisions over the war and calls for greater understanding about how it affected "not only one particular group, but all of them--Northern, Southern, white, and black."
Heuvel notes that many of Confederacy's top commanders hailed from Virginia, but also devotes chapters to lesser-known generals, enlisted men, Virginia politicians and the surviving veterans of the bloodshed.
The South's underappreciated navy gets a nod, as do some Virginia women.
The Fredericksburg area's Maury family and Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer (grandson of the Revolutionary War patriot), Culpeper's A.P. Hill, and Westmoreland County's Lees all receive mention.
In all, the book makes a good gift, and offers a great jumping-off place for further study of a fascinating time.