With the main purpose in its origin of interesting veterans in their own memories and of instructing the generation which has grown up since the War
for the Union
, the Century War series,
through peculiar circumstances, has exerted an influence in bringing about a better understanding between the soldiers who were opposed in that conflict.
This influence, of which substantial evidence has been given, North and South, lends additional historical interest to the present work.
Many commanders and subordinates have here contributed to the history of the heroic deeds of which they were a part.
, who, in accord with the well-known purpose of President Lincoln
, began at Appomattox
the work of reconciliation, contributed to the War Series
four papers on his greatest campaigns, and these are here included.
They were written before his severe illness, and became the foundation of his Personal memoirs.
The narrative of his battles, continued under the tragic circumstances of the last year of his life, retrieved his fortunes and added a new laurel to his fame.
The good temper and the unpartisan character of his articles, and of the papers by the leading writers on both sides, are the most significant signs in these pages.
For the most part, each side has confined controversy to its own ranks, and both have emphasized the benefit as well as the glory of the issue.
Coincident with the progress of the series during the past three years, may be noted a marked increase in the number of fraternal meetings between Union and Confederate veterans, enforcing the conviction that the nation is restored in spirit as in fact, and that each side is contributing its share to the new heritage of manhood and peace.
On the 17th of July, 1883, Mr. Buel
of The Century
magazine, proposed in detail a magazine series by prominent generals of
The original suggestion (based upon the success of two articles from different points of view on the John Brown
raid, in The Century
for that month) was of eight or ten articles on the decisive battles of the war, and included in the main the features of the expanded series.
Mr. R. W. Gilder
, the Editor-in-Chief
, at once cordially adopted the suggestion, committing the charge of its execution to Mr. Johnson
, the Associate-Editor
, assisted by Mr. Buel
; from the start Mr. Gilder
has aided the work by his counsel, and by the support of his confidence in its success and public usefulness — ends which could not have been attained except for the liberal and continued support of Roswell Smith
of The Century Co.
The elaboration of the first plan, the securing of the contributions, and the shaping and editing of the series were shared by Mr. Johnson
and Mr. Buel
, the former devoting the more time to the work during the months of organization, and the latter having entire charge of the editing for nearly the whole of the second year.
The course of the series in magazine form was from November, 1884, to November, 1887.
That the plan and the time of the enterprise were alike fortunate, may be estimated from the unprecedented success of the articles.
Within six months from the appearance of the first battle paper, the circulation of The Century
advanced from 127,000 to 225,000 copies, or to a reading audience estimated at two millions.
A part of this gain was the natural growth of the periodical.
The still further increase of the regular monthly issue during the first year of the serial publication of Messrs. Nicolay
's Life of Lincoln
(1886-87) has proved the permanent character of the interest in important contributions to the history of the Civil War
The present work is a natural sequence of the magazine series, and was provided for before the publication of the first paper.
Both the series and this expansion of it in book form are, in idea as well as in execution, an outgrowth of the methods and convictions belonging to the editorial habit of The Century
The chief motive has been strict fairness to the testimony of both sides, and the chief endeavors have been to prove every important statement by the Official Records
and other trustworthy documents, and to spare no pains in the interest of elucidation and accuracy.
These ends could not have been attained without the cordial cooperation as writers, and assistance as interested actors, of the soldiers of both sides; in these respects the aid rendered by veterans, from the highest rank to the lowest, has been unstinted, and would be deserving of particular mention if such were possible within the bounds of an ordinary preface.
Nearly every writer in the work, and very many others whose names do not appear, have been willing sources of suggestion and information.
Special aid has been received from General James B. Fry
, from the late Colonel Robert N. Scott
, who was the editorial head of the “War Records” office, and from his successor, Colonel H. M. Lazelle
; and thanks are due to General Adam Badeau
, George E. Pond
, Colonel John P. Nicholson
, Colonel G. C. Kniffin
, and to General Marcus J. Wright
of the War Department for the Collection of Confederate Records.
Material for the illustrations, which form a most striking and not the least important feature of the work, has been received from all sides, as will be noted in the table of contents.
Special acknowledgment is due to the Massachusetts Commandery of the Loyal Legion, to whose complete set of the Gardner and the Brady photographs, as well as to other material, access has been had from the beginning of the series.
Colonel Arnold A. Rand
of the Massachusetts Commandery, and General Albert Ordway
have rendered valuable aid in connection with the Brady and the Gardner photographs and in other ways.
The importance of accuracy has been kept constantly in view in the preparation of the illustrations — a laborious work which has been executed under the direction of Mr. Alexander W. Drake
, and Mr. W. Lewis Fraser
, of the Art Department of The Century Co.