More than 800 alumni fought in the conflict, while illustrious West Pointers like George Meade (class of 1835), Winfield Scott Hancock (1844), William Tecumseh Sherman (1840) and Ulysses S. Grant (1843) led Union armies to victory. Similarly, the list of the school’s most celebrated Southern grads reads like a veritable who’s who of the Confederacy. J.E.B. Stuart (1854), Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (1846), James Longstreet (1842), P.G.T. Beauregard (1838) and the legendary Robert E. Lee (1829) all studied there. In fact, so many rebel commanders passed through the academy’s hallowed halls only to return home to fight for their home states Washington considered shuttering the college until the end of the war.
A century and a half later, West Point is revisiting its storied past with a landmark book about the conflict. Entitled The West Point History of the Civil War, it’s the first publically available volume from the school in more than four decades.
Academy historians spent more than three years compiling material and authoring chapters for the 450-page anthology. Published by Simon & Schuster, the book features stunning battlefield maps; archival photos; period illustrations; diagrams of weapons, equipment and uniforms; and in-depth profiles of the war’s various leaders – all set against a page-turning narrative of the four-year conflict.
What’s more, the hardcover release coincides with the issue of a separate stand-alone digital edition that’s available for iPad and Mac. The fully immersive and interactive app brings all of the engrossing content from the print version to life, while adding yet even more material. Produced by Rowan Technology Solutions, the digital collection is already part of the curriculum at West Point. In fact, according to the developers, more than 1,200 cadets have used the tablet-based resource in their studies resulting in a 46 percent increase in “A” grades in the school’s history program.
MilitaryHistoryNow.com recently had the opportunity to explore both the hardcover and enhanced interactive versions of The West Point History of the Civil War. Not surprisingly, we were blown away by the breadth and depth of material as well as the eye-popping art direction. The print edition is as good as any Civil War anthology we’ve ever seen, while the digital version pushes the publishing envelope with fully animated battle maps, data-rich infographics, diagrams, photo libraries and a host of multimedia features. Regardless of the format, this collection is a must-have for any student of the American Civil War.
Best of all, West Point is already planning future digital/print compendiums focusing on the Second World War and the War of Independence. See the trailer below.
The West Point History of the Civil War is available tomorrow for $55 in hardcover and $31.99 for the enhanced digital iPad version ($23.99 standard edition).