Having met Charles A. Dana
first in the spring of 1863, during the Vicksburg
campaign, it was my good-fortune to serve with him in the field during three of the most memorable campaigns of the Civil War
, and for a short period under him as a bureau officer of the War Department.
Our duties threw us much together, and of all the men I ever met he was the most delightful companion.
Overflowing with the knowledge of art, science, and literature, and widely acquainted as he was with the leading men and movements of the times, his conversation was a constant delight and a constant instruction.
Blessed with a vigorous constitution and an insatiable desire for information, he never once, by day or night, or in the presence of danger, however great, declined to accompany me on an expedition or an adventure.
Naturally this companionship begot both a confidence and an intimacy that, I am glad to say, lasted to the end of his career, and are my warrant for becoming his biographer.
As a journalist and as Assistant Secretary of War
, Mr. Dana
was one of the most influential men of his time.
Weighed for the strength and variety of his faculties, and for his power to interest and impress men's minds, he must be considered as the first of American editors.
Yet it happened that in the great era of the Civil War
his energies were so powerfully called upon, and his services were so vigorous and effective, that he must also be classed among the real heroes of that unequalled conflict.
By his pen no less
than by his official action, he exerted a tremendous influence upon both the men and the measures of his day. As field correspondent, and office assistant to Stanton
, the great War Secretary
, he was potent in deciding the fate of leading generals as well as in shaping the military policies of the Administration.
With the possible exception of John A. Rawlins
, Assistant Adjutant-General
and Chief of Staff
to General Grant
exerted a greater influence over Grant
's military career than any other man.
It is perhaps well to add that while his family and his associates have put me in possession of many letters, documents, and clippings bearing on his public and private life, and have given me every possible assistance in the preparation of this work, I am solely responsible for its character and for the opinions which the reader will find expressed in the following pages.