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TOUCHING SCENES IN THE FIELD, THE CAMP, THE HOSPITAL, AND THE CABIN.
BY JOHN S. C. ABBOTT,
BUTIOR OF “LIFE OF NAPOLEON," "HISTORY OF THX TRKNCU REVOLUTION," "MONARCHIES OF CONTINENTAL EUROPE,” &c.
ILLUSTRATED WITH MAPS, DIAGRAMS, AND NUMEROUS STEEL ENGRAVINGS OF
FROM ORIGINAL DESIGNS BY DARLEY, AND OTHER EMINENT ARTISTS,
AND PORTRAITS OF DISTINGUISHED MEN.
SOLD ONLY BY DISTRIBUTING AGENTS.
Entored, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1862. by
AENRY BILL, GORDON BILL, AND LEDYARD BILL In the Clerks Office of the District Court of the United States for the District of Connecticu:
FEW persons can be aware of the difficulty of obtaining accuracy in the minor details of the scenes here recorded. The historian who does not write from personal observation, sits at his table surrounded by a mass of material, in the shape of official reports, military orders, newspaper correspondence, private letters from prominent actors, and published biographies. He finds names spelt in all varieties of ways, dates and military titles in inextricable confusion, heroic charges credited to different regiments and brigades, and often the same officer lauded by one for military skill and heroism, and by another denounced for cowardice and imbecility.
The writer has devoted nearly three years of untiring labor to this volume. He has spared no pains to obtain accuracy, and has conscientiously endeavored to do justice to all. He has sought to repress every emotion and to withhold every word which was not dictated by true impartiality. It has been his desire to deal magnanimously with all, commending good deeds by whomsoever performed, and making generous allowance for all mistakes, however fatal, where the intention has been good.
It cannot be doubted that there will be many minor errors found in these pages. It is not possible that a history, recording such a multiplicity of events, should entirely avoid them. These errors are, however, rather annoying to individuals, than of importance to the general public. It is not pleasant to see one's name misspelt; a major does not like to be called a captain, and the Ninety-eighth Regiment is unwilling to surrender its dearly-bought honors to the Ninety-third.
But as to the great campaigns of this war, those majestic movements which evolved the final and glorious issues, the writer cannot cherish a doubt that the record here presented to the public will stand the scrutiny of time. There is an impression with some, that these momentous events can be more correctly described in future years than now. But it is not improbable that more will be lost than gained by the lapse of time. For instance, the bombardment and capture of Fort Fisher is a fact accomplished. Its vivid incidents will be fading and vanishing as the years roll on. A graphic account of that achievement can be more easily written now than at any future period. Still, there may be some incidents in its secret history, unimportant to the great public, but in which individuals are interested, which may hereafter be brought to light. But even this is not probable, after the thorough scrutiny to which the event has been exposed.
There is one thought which gives the writer sincere pain. There are men who, in this war, have performed deeds worthy of renown, whose names will perhaps scarcely be mentioned in these pages; while others, no more deserving of notice, have their exploits minutely detailed. If some heroic adventure has been achieved on the dark waters of a remote bay, or far away in the wilds of Arkansas, or in the midst of the tumultuous fight, where one hundred and fifty thousand men, enveloped in the smoke and tumult of battle, are struggling with almost superhuman energies, if the hero be too modest to give publicity to his own exploit, and if there be no army correspondent near with friendly pen to record it, the deed vanishes with the hour. But there is another, in the same battle, perhaps no more ineritorious, who chances to attract the attention of an army correspondent by his side, and the chivalric deed is wafted through the land. Thus the one act passes into oblivion, and the other is embalmed in history. This injustice no historic fidelity can avoid
A military history of this war, for the instruction of military men, can only be worthily written by the accomplished professional soldier. But few can be interested in the perplexing labyrinth of details, and these can only be comprehended by the careful study of diagrams. The writer of this history has not attempted this. He has only endeavored to describe those comprehensive strategic and tactical movements which all can understand, and from which the great issues of the battle have resulted. We trust that these, by the aid of the accompanying carefully prepared maps and diagrams, will generally be made plain to every intelligent reader.
It would require very many volumes to give even a brief description of all the raids, skirmishes, wild adventures, and minor battles of this stupendous war, which has swept over a whole continent, and in which nearly two millions of men have been arrayed against each other. Few
men, in this busy age, have time to read such ponderous volumes. Many of these achievements, though heroic, were isolated, having no apparent bearing upon the final issues of the conflict. The great campaigns, in which the National banner was borne so majestically over the land, and which resulted in the total overthrow of the rebellion, are here minutely recorded. It is believed that the general reader will find in these pages an accurate account of this great National struggle, and of the measures by which the National integrity has been so gloriously preserved and established.
Still, it is with no little solicitude that the writer submits these pages to the ordeal of public criticism. There are more than a million of men, now living, who have taken part in the scenes here recorded. Scarcely any two have looked upon the spectacle from the same stand-point. Political antipathies and military rivalries may bias the judgment. The writer can only say that he has not written in haste, and that it has been his earnest desire to do justice to the theme which for so many months has employed his pen..
JOHN S. O. ABBOTT.
NEW HAVEN, CONN., Sept., 1865.