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[132] Vermont, where the regiments were not only fewer, but more generally brigaded together; and it has precluded a perfectly continuous narrative, because it has been necessary to follow the varying lines of several simultaneous campaigns. It has not been attempted to give the separate regimental histories, except in a highly condensed form, and this partly because it has already been so well done in a general way, in Bowen's valuable Massachusetts in the War, that it seemed better to approach the whole matter from the collective, not the regimental, point of view. The story is told, in short, as if it were that of a single army corps, organically united, but constantly distributed over different localities.

Less than half of the Massachusetts regiments have had their histories even ostensibly written. Some of these histories were of the most sketchy character, published too soon after the war to have any value except as they might contain scattered facts or graphic isolated descriptions. In many cases the chapter given to some particular regiment in Bowen's Massachusetts in the War is of far more historical value than the book ostensibly devoted to it. As a rule, the most recent histories, as Crowninshield's 1st Cavalry and Emilio's 54th Infantry, are altogether the best; and it is probable that the present State law, which provides for a certain established standard in such histories, will give us much better average work hereafter. No Massachusetts regimental history is on the whole so good as the best corps histories; those especially of the 2d Army Corps by Gen. F. A. Walker and of the 19th Corps by Irwin. The chief and unique value of even the poorest regimental history or company narrative lies in the flavor of actual experience there exhibited; and in this the simple autobiography or company diary is apt to surpass the more formal regimental record. The best book which the author has had occasion to consult in this respect is Lincoln's Life with the 34th Massachusetts Infantry in the War of the Rebellion (Worcester, 1879), a book making no claim to high finish or especial literary merit, but thoroughly admirable in its way. With these may be classed, so far as they go, the manuscript narratives and memoranda of Brevet Maj. E. W. Everson, U. S. Vols., some of which have become the property of the State, and which should at some time be printed. It was at one time the hope of the author to obtain a good

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James L. Bowen (2)
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