« AnteriorContinuar »
PREFATOEY NOTES. if
afforded. They are not the men to settle in quiet dignity. We know not who originated the use of "push" as a noun, but it expresses the characteristic of these "younger sons "—younger but not "prodigal"—who come to our Western States. "Push"—they will stop for no obstacle and brook no difficulty. Before that "push" forests disappear, prairies are decked with cultivated beauty, railways are projected of length sufficient to open the eyes of grave eastern directors, which yet, somehow, secure eastern capital for their construction. These are not men to be held in leading strings, and kept in subjection to effete systems.
The traveler from the Eastern States, will find in each Western frontier village the evidences of highest culture. In the cabin of unhewn logs or "ended" slabs he will find music and painting. With this, there is, of course, the endless variety of foreign population. German, Irish, Scandinavian are its chief elements, though in the Northwest there is a large infusion of the genuine English. This population must be fused, and that work has been going on under the combined influence of the educating trio of powers above indicated, with the additive influence of business and politics.
To these is now being added the uniting influence of the War For The Union. Together are we all being "baptized in the cloud and in the sea," and we shall emerge more than ever One People.
Illinois has full share of all Western peculiarities. Its size and elements of material wealth have long since caused it to be conceded that it was destined to rank with the foremost of the States of the Union. When, therefore, the tocsin of war was sounded, it was proper, it was natural, that the nation should turn its eyes upon this, with other large States, and ask, "What will Illinois do?" The answer is given in the offering of more than a quarter of a million of soldiers and untold millions of money to the country.
It is proper that each State should, in some form, make its own record during the war. No general history can do the individual States justice; nay, no complete, comprehensive history can be written until, at the end of the war, the States have made up their annals. For these the Irvings, Bancrofts and Prescotts of the Union must wait. In each State should be written the deeds of its sons; the achievements of its regiments, the deeds of its officers and citizen soldiery. If delayed, much will be lost; if issued at once, there cannot be perfect symmetry and complete finish. Between these alternatives, it seems better to seize the present and accept the artistic sacrifice.
When the proposition was made to the author to undertake the preparation of the present work he promptly declined. He had enough work upon his hands to tax all his strength and consume all his time. But the proposition was renewed and so pressed upon him by numerous and influential gentlemen whose judgment he highly respects, that it became a question of duty. The entire business management has been with the publishers, the author declining any participation in its details.
As to material^ of course all published works are procured, regardless of expense, and the uninitiated would wonder at the amount of war literature from massive octavos down to pamphlets, already produced*
His Excellency, Governor Yates, placed at the author's disposal a valuable collection of State papers and other documents, and for his uniform courtesy the author renders this public acknowledgment. Adjutant-General Fuller courteously tendered access to the documentary stores of his office. Major-General McClernand placed in his possession his full memoranda of the movements of his command. Major-General Hurlbut kindly furnished important information.
Learning that Rev. F. Senour, of Rockford, Illinois, had contemplated a similar work and had already collected considerable material, a correspondence was opened, followed by a personal interview, resulting in the transfer to the writer of Mr. Sen our's MSS., principally biographical and regimental sketches. These have been of much service, and their use is thus acknowledged.
In a very few instances pamphlet sketches of single regiments have been published and made available. The "History of the Old :Second Division," by Wm. Sumner Dodge, and the "annals of the Army of the Cumberland," by John Fitch, have afforded valuable assistance. Col. James Grant Wilson's " Sketches of Illinois Officers," have aided in personal biography. But the principal reliance for regimental and personal sketches has been upon the Adjutant-General's reports, official reports of commanders, and MSS. furnished the author. PREFATORY NOTES. 11
In giving regimental sketches there is a difference in the space given. This may need explanation. There is a wide difference in the service rendered by regiments equally meritorious. One has been from "muster" almost constantly with the same brigade and division, while another has been on detached service, or thrown from division to division, from one department to another.
The same principle will explain the difference in personal notices. One officer has performed service so varied in kind and field that any just notice requires much detail—another has served as well, as bravely, but his career has been with one corps or division.
There has been a difference also in accessible materials which no industry could prevent. The history of very few regiments is yet completed, and among the most difficult to reach, the author has found the regiments out of service. It will be remembered that the work is yet incomplete, and that for regiments with scanty mention there is ample record in store.
Much regimental history is found in the record of campaigns, battles and sieges. Indeed it is such as is the most satisfactory. You find a regiment, as for instance the 13th at Chickasaw Bayou, or the 19th at Stone River, and what special record does it need to tell its gallantry?
Illinois troops have seldom been brigaded together, at least this was so early in the war. This adds to the labor of the historian and prevents that unity which is desirable. From the manner in which the regiments were distributed it has not been practicable to treat them in numerical order.
Furthermore, in the preparation of regimental sketches, the author has followed very closely the authorities before him, editing rather than preparing them. Hence they sometimes seem bald and rugged, but there was only space for the rugged statement of facts.
Care has been taken to secure accuracy, and corrections have been made at much expense, subsequently to stereotyping—in some instances chapters canceled and rewritten on receiving later or more satisfactory authorities; and yet, in such a work, it is too much to hope that entire accuracy, especially in names and dates, has been secured. Proper names are the terror of printers and proof-readers and the vexation of authors. "What's in a name?" Much, and no man wishes to see his deeds assigned to some respectable person of whom he has no knowledge.
The lists of killed and wounded are not given. In the case of regiments and batteries yet in the field, the present publication would, alas! be premature. In the regiments mustered out, the casualty reports of the Adjutant's office are not brought down to date of expiration of service, and to have secured them from the officers would have demanded a delay disappointing and vexatious to patrons. It has therefore been thought best—necessary indeed— to defer such publication until the second volume shall appear. Efforts were made to prevent this, but they would have been successful only by further delay.
The reader will be struck with the difference of space assigned the campaigns of the West and those of the East, but the reason is clear. These volumes do not profess to be a complete history of the war, but of the work of Illinois in the war. It has so happened that most of the Illinois troops have been in the West, and until the recent battles of Franklin and Nashville and the capture of Savannah and Charleston,'we have had but few of them on the Potomac, Shenandoah, the James, or the coast of the Carolinas. How could the record of our men be written without the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, the Hatchie, the siege of Vicksburg, Stone River, Chickamauga, Mission Ridge and Lookout Mountain? They were there! It was absolutely necessary, either to sketch the campaigns at once, or to go over them again and again with the several regiments. We have, for instance, given much space to Donelson and Shiloh. How could that be avoided when so many from Illinois fought those battles; when Grant, and McClernand, and Hurlburt were the master spirits, and Wallace poured out his life?
Here is made a personal acknowledgment. In the midst of pressing cares and overwork, the health of the author threatened to give way so seriously, as to peril the completion of the first volume months beyond the promised time. In this emergency he was so fortunate as to secure the assistance of Mr. George Upton, now one of the Chicago Tribune staff, a gentleman who, as reporter was with the Western army in its early campaigns, and is familiar with military movements. Mr. Upton's assistance has been of great PREFATORY NOTES. 13
value, lightening the author's labors at a time when they were pros trating him.
By a Providential coincidence, a former Illinois lawyer is Commander-in-chief of our Army and Navy, and the former Colonel of the 21st Illinois Infantry is, as Lieutenant General, in immediate command of our armies. The former has passed through four years of an eventful administration, and having been proven by the people, has been re-commissioned. The nation has recognized in him a divinely chosen leader, and believes, that with all his liability to mistake, the President has been divinely directed. It was a sublime moment when that tall form was seen on the platform of the car as the train was about to carry him from his quiet home in Springfield to the cares and perils which awaited him, and the President elect, with choked utterance, asked his old friends to pray for him! So they did. It seemed proper to follow our Illinois citizen with some particularity, until he became actually the Nation's Chief Magistrate.
Our scarcely less distinguished fellow-citizen, the LieutenantGeneral, merits ampler notice than has yet been given him. But the time for it is not yet. When time shall have fully tested his plans and his generalship will be the hour of his record.
This volume has brought down the history of the State in the war to the close of 1864, and the close of the administration of Governor Yates. It was providential that a man with his spirit and activity was in the chair executive. He was as fully committed to freedom as against slavery, nor did he ever falter in his position. He stood as an iron pillar, when locally in a minority, and waited for the day when truth should triumph. As Governor he was the soldier's friend. On the field he went with them under fire, used every possible exertion to forward them sanitary supplies, to bring the wounded into hospitals and to their homes. The soldier's wife or widow could secure audience when officers were turned away. It was no wonder that when his official term as governor expired that so strong a popular demand was made for his election to another position of eminence. His messages and proclamations, so far as they bear on the war, are fully given, for they indicate the State history.
His successor is a gallant officer of the Union, wounded on more