this City of New York
(where its ideas and vital aims were more generally cherished than even in South Carolina
), that I confidently hoped for an immediate and palpable, rather than a remote and circuitous triumph of the Union
, now and evermore blended inseparably with Emancipation — with the legal and National recognition of every man's right to himself.
Thenceforward, with momentary intervals of anxiety, depression, and doubt, it has been to me a labor of love to devote every available hour to the history of the American Conflict
This Volume is essentially Military, as the former was Civil: that is, it treats mainly of Armies, Marches, Battles, Sieges, and the alternations of good and ill fortune that, from January, 1862, to May, 1865, befell the contending forces respectively of the Union
and the Confederacy
But he who reads with attention will discern that I have regarded even these under a moral rather than a purely material aspect.
Others have doubtless surpassed me in the vividness, the graphic power, of their delineations of “the noise of the captains, and the shouting:” I have sought more especially to portray the silent influence of these collisions, with the efforts, burdens, sacrifices, bereavements, they involved, in gradually molding and refining Public Opinion to accept, and ultimately demand, the overthrow and extinction of Human Slavery, as the one vital, implacable enemy of our Nationality and our Peace.
Hence, while at least three-fourths of this Volume narrates Military or Naval occurrences, I presume a larger space of it than of any rival is devoted to tracing, with all practicable brevity, the succession of Political events; the sequences of legislation in Congress with regard to Slavery and the War
; the varying pleases of Public Sentiment; the rise, growth, and decline, of hopes that the War
would be ended through the accession of its adversaries to power in the Union
I labor under a grave mistake if this be not judged by our grandchildren (should any of them condescend to read it) the most important and interesting feature of my work.
I have differed from most annalists, in preferring to follow a campaign or distinct military movement to its close before interrupting its narration to give accounts of simultaneous movements or campaigns in distant regions, between other armies, led by other commanders.
In my historical reading, I have often been perplexed and confused by the facility wherewith chroniclers leap from the Euphrates
to the Danube
, and from the Ebro to the Vistula.
In full view of the necessary inter-dependence of events occurring on widely separated arenas, it has seemed to me preferable to follow one movement to its culmination before dealing with another; deeming the inconveniences and obscurities involved in this method less serious than those unavoidable (by me, at least) on any different plan.
Others will judge between my method and that which has usually been followed.
I have bestowed more attention on marches, and on the minor incidents of a campaign, than is common: historians usually devoting their time and force mainly to the portrayal of great, decisive (or at least destructive) battles.
But battles are so often won or lost by sagaciously planned movements, skillful combinations, well-conducted marches, and wise dispositions, that I have extended to these a prominence which seemed to me more clearly justified than usually conceded.
He was not an incapable general who observed that he chose to win battles with his soldiers' legs rather than their muskets.
As to dates, I could wish that commanders on all hands were more precise than they usually are; but, wherever dates were accessible, I have given them, even though invested with no special or obvious consequence.
Printed mainly as foot-notes, they consume little space, and do not interrupt the flow of the narrative.
The reader who does