In presenting to the public The annals of the War
, the publishers do not assume to offer only that which is thoroughly reliable as chapters in the history of the most thrilling and bloody drama of the century, but it is assumed that in no way can the truth of history be so nearly ascertained as by the statements of the leading actors themselves.
The series of contributions contained in this volume were furnished as special articles for The Philadelphia weekly times
, with the view of correcting many of the grave errors of the hastily compiled, heedlessly imperfect, and strongly partisan histories which appeared during and soon after the close of the war.
The fierce passions which attend civil war are unequaled in any conflicts between separate peoples, and the advanced intelligence, the community of interest, the common pride of past achievements, and the long maintained brotherhood through generations, all intensified the bitterness of our internecine strife.
A war so gigantic, enduring for four long years, so costly in blood and treasure, and reaching almost every household with its sore bereavements, could not but inflame the bitterest passions and resentments, obliterate recollections of virtue in each other's foes, and direct all the agencies of power to color the causes and events of the war to harmonize with the prejudices which ruled North and South.
It was to correct as far as possible the pages of the future history of the war of the late rebellion, that the contributions herein given were solicited, and they have all been
written with the view of attaining that purpose.
Already many of the leading actors of the war have passed away.
fell by the assassin's hand just when he had achieved the final victory for the Union
, lamented by those who were then his foes as keenly as by the loyal men who so bravely sustained him; and of his original cabinet but two members survive.
, the great War Minister, has gone to his final account; Mead
, who met the shock of decisive battle at Gettysburg
, now sleep in the “City of the silent;” and hundreds of others, who were conspicuous in civil councils and on the sanguinary field, are in their eternal rest.
Official sources of reliable information have perished in a multitude of instances, and the country is to-day without a single trustworthy history of the greatest struggle in the records of any modern civilization.
The annals of the War
furnish the most valuable contributions to the future historian which have yet been given to the world.
They are far from being perfect; but they have elicited the truth to a degree that no other means could have accomplished.
They are from the pens of a number of the most honored, intelligent and impartial of the immediate actors in the scenes they portray.
They embrace in the list of authors men of high rank in military circles on both sides, and statesmen and historians of great trust and attainments, who favored the cause of both the Blue
and the Gray.
That they are entirely free from prejudice or from the coloring that all must accept in describing momentous events with which they were interwoven by every inspiration of devotion and ambition, is not to be pretended; but that they are written in integrity of purpose, and that they give the substance of the truth, can be justly claimed for them.
Coming as they do
from soldiers and civilians of both sides, presenting the same battles and the same results from entirely different standpoints, they, of necessity, often proffer antagonistic conclusions; but the freedom of expression from the opposing heroes, has enabled the intelligent and impartial student to arrive as nearly at the exact truth as history can ever attain.
The Confederate story of the battle of Gettysburg
has never been accurately given to the world until it was done by the various contributions to The Philadelphia weekly times
, and now herein reproduced, commencing with the exhaustive narrative of General Longstreet
That publication has led to a multitude of explanatory articles from the highest Southern military authorities, until the whole truth is now, for the first time, presented for the future historian of the war..
Nor do The annals of the War
limit their interest to the details of military history, the manoeuvres of armies, or the mere achievements of the sword.
They present the most entertaining and instructive chapters of many of the countless incidents of a great war, which will be gratefully preserved by a people justly proud of their heroism in their homes, at their altars, and in their multitude of trials outside of the flame of battle.
Of the many narratives gathered in this volume, none will be of more enduring interest and profit to the general reader, North and South, than the records of social life, the individual and untitled heroism displayed by men, women and children in the sad drama that yet lingers in every memory.
Not only in the great conflicts of armies, but in all the efforts summoned by the necessities of desolating strife, there are chapters of history herein given which tell of the grandeur of the whole American people; of their courage in war; of their beneficence in peace; of their devotion to home and country; of
their completed circle of attributes, which united again under one constitution, one supreme national authority, and looking to one destiny, make them the noblest people of the earth.
The sword has been sheathed between the North
and the South
; the banners of the Blue
and of the Gray have been furled; the dead of the conflict have sacred sepulchre; flowers bloom for the now peaceful warriors as they sleep side by side in their mingled dust; monuments dot the hillsides and plains where the battle once raged, telling of the matchless heroism of American soldiers.
Federal and Confederate chieftains sit in the same Senate and House
as national lawmakers; in the same cabinet of Presidential advisers, and heroes of both armies represent the reunited Republic in foreign lands.
Peace has spread her silver wings over the desolation and bereavements of the terrible conflict, and Liberty and Law are the declared attributes of free government for all classes, conditions and races amongst us. Of such a country and such a people the truth of history must be the grandest eulogy, and The annals of the War
will be the most welcome of eulogiums, because the most faithful record of their achievements.