Lancaster - When people think of the Civil War and Lancaster, Ohio, they think of Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman is credited with leading the North to victory and bringing down the Confederate Army. But, when former Ohio University Lancaster History Professor Ken Heineman researched Lancaster during the time of the Civil War, he found something else to examine. It's something he calls a Civil War Dynasty.
Heineman's book "Civil War Dynasty: The Ewing Family of Ohio" is being released this month. Heineman conducted all of the research for the book while he was working at the Lancaster Campus.
"I spent 18 years at OUL, working in Sherman's hometown. Every morning after I would drop off the kids at school, I would sit at Four Reasons and I would stare at the Sherman mural downtown. There was always this presence," said Heineman "But the Ewing Mansion was just up the hill on Main Street and the more I started looking into the Ewings, I realized there was a story here, a great story."
Thomas Ewing was Sherman's foster-father. Heineman said Ewing got Sherman into West Point, and made sure he had the money and political connections to succeed in the war. But Sherman wasn't the only successful Ewing son. Three Ewing boys became Union generals.
"I found it fascinating that you have a town of about 4,000 people at the time and it produced that many union generals," said Heineman. "I became fascinated with Thomas Ewing. He's just remembered as Sherman's foster-father and father-in-law but, he was so much more than that."
Heineman started researching the Ewing family in 2007 and said he started to write the book in 2009, but then became very sick. Heineman almost died and said he drew on the near-death experience while finishing the book.
"In a lot of ways the best thing that ever happened to me was getting sick and nearly dying," said Heineman. "I had a much better understanding of death and loss and it improved my understanding and writing."
The book is being released by NYU Press. Heineman is now a professor of history and department chair at Angelo State University in Texas.