In the spring of 1865, acting under orders from General J. H. Wilson, detached Brigadier-General John T. Croxton and his brigade of fifteen-hundred rapidly marched toward Tuscaloosa to destroy the bridge, factories, mills, university (military school), and whatever else might be of benefit to the rebel cause.

Standing in front of the Rotunda, located in the center of campus, André Deloffre, the University librarian and professor of French and Spanish faced the approaching Federal troops. Colonel Johnston is said to have sat stiffly a top a white horse and made his purpose to burn the university known to the group.

Librarian Deloffre pleaded for the library to be saved and Colonel Johnston agreed it should be saved. He scrawled a message asking permission to spare the building but when word finally returned his request was denied.

Historical lore said that Colonel Johnston decided to salvage one volume from the Rotunda as a memento. The book saved was an English translation of The Koran: Commonly Called The Alcoran Of Mohammed, published in Philadelphia in 1853.

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