.--This narrative was written in the spring of 1863, a few months after the return of the Confederate armies to Tennessee
, more for the purpose of recording the facts, while they were fresh in my memory, than from any view of publishing, then or thereafter.
It may contain reflections and speculations which will seem novel, curious, and perhaps absurd, to the reader of to-day, especially in the light of subsequent events; and doubtless there are many crudities which one, ambitions for the reputation of a fine writer, would not willingly submit to public criticism.
But it may be that those very reflections which appear the least reasonable to the reader who was not familiar, from personal experience, with the tone of thought and feeling, the hopes and fears and aspirations of the soldiers and citizens of the Southern Confederacy, will serve, in some measure, to give the truest pictures of the South
under the old regime, and were I to undertake to re-write the narrative, the temptation might prove too strong, I fear, to fashion some of its features more in accordance with results, or to sacrifice historical accuracy to the prevailing sentiments of the times.
I am hardly anything of a Bourbon, and certainly have no wish to be classed with those of whom it has been said, “Ils n'ont neu appus, ils n'ont neu oublie
,” (they learn nothing, they forget nothing). But I have never learned that the South
was not absolutely right in maintaining the sovereignty of the States, though it would be an error to assert it now, and Bourbon
folly to seek to make it a living issue.
I have never learned that the South
had not a perfect right to defend her property in slaves, nor forgotten that she was less responsible for the institution, and especially for its cheif evils, than the North
; but, as it had to go, we have all learned that it is better gone.
I have not learned that the South
could have refused, with manliness, to accept the war which was forced upon her, or that she did anything, in its inception, in its conduct, or after its conclusion, which could tarnish the escutcheon of a brave, noble, and enlightened people.
I have learned that the results of the war have practically made of the United States
one Nation, but I have not forgetten that, within that nationality we can struggle, and ought to struggle for the rights of the States as against Centralism, and for government of the people for the people, against the domination of the few.