Book notices.

Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant. New York: Charles L. Webster & co.

This book has been before the public for some time, and has had an unprecedented sale. [575]

Anything that came from so prominent an actor in such great events would have possessed interest, and there is no doubt that the tragic circumstances under which the book was written—the financial ruin, protracted illness, and slow death of General Grant—have added greatly to the desire of the public to read it.

It must be said also that the book itself possesses many elements of interest. Written in a pleasing, narrative style, and, in the main, in a very kindly tone, it contains many anecdotes, reminiscences, and expressions of personal opinion about men and things which give a decided interest to the narrative, and give the book a certain historic value.

But it is (as was to have been expected from the circumstances under which it was written) a book full of blunders and flat contradictions of the official reports (both Federal and Confederate), and the future historian who attempts to follow it will be led very far astray from the real truth.

E. g.: In the account given of the campaign from the Wilderness to Petersburg, the impression sought to be made by the narrative is that Grant encountered Lee with about equal forces, and steadily drove him back until he took refuge behind impregnable entrenchments in front of Richmond—that Grant was always eager to push the offensive and that Lee persistently refused to fight except behind heavy entrenchments—that Lee's losses were nearly, if not fully as heavy as Grant's, and that Grant's campaign was a splendid success which raised to the highest pitch the morale of the Army of the Potomac, while it depressed and demoralized the Army of Northern Virginia to such an extent that it steadily melted away until the end came.

Now any one who will read Grant's narrative of this campaign in connection with the official reports—or will compare it with the accounts of Early, Venable, Walter H. Taylor, Swinton, or Humphreys, will see at once that it is all stuff—the veriest romance that was ever attempted to be palmed off as history. The real truth about that campaign is given by Colonel Venable in his address before the Army of Northern Virginia Association, which we publish in this volume, and is in brief simply this: As soon as Grant with his immense host, crossed the Rapidan, Lee moved out and attacked him—Lee made no move in the campaign which was not to meet the enemy—there was never a day when he did not long for and earnestly seek after ‘an open field and a fair fight’—Grant did more entrenching on that campaign than Lee, and his entrenchments were (because of greatly superior facilities) much stronger—and yet, despite of the immense odds in numbers and resources against which he fought, Lee out-generalled Grant at every point, whipped him in every battle, and finally forced him, after losing more men than Lee had, to sit down to the siege of Petersburg, which position he might have taken at the beginning without firing a shot or losing a man.

We have not space at present for a further review of this remarkable book, but we propose at some suitable time to review it fully—under some such title as ‘Grant's Memoirs vs. the Official Reports’—and to demonstrate how utterly unreliable and untrustworthy it is alike in its statement of events, and its expression of opinions whether about military or civil matters. [576]

The publishers have done their part of the work admirably, and the book will, no doubt, continue for some time to come to have a wide sale.

the Southern bivouac, published at Louisville, seems to be flourishing, and is publishing many articles of great interest and decided historic value.

The December number begins a series of papers by Judge Hines, which give a full history of the secret movement in the Northwest to liberate Confederate prisoners, and encourage and help ‘the peace party.’

the century continues its war papers, some of which are very valuable, along with a good deal of trash. We would commend these papers much more strongly if the editors had not shown such an evident disposition to publish, without question, whatever any so called ‘Confederate’ may have to say against our government and leaders, and such unmistakable reluctance to print corrections of their slanders. The most notable example of this was their publication of a paper on ‘The Alabama,’ by one professing to have been on board, grossly .slandering the gallant Semmes and his officers and crew. The fellow was promptly exposed, it was proven that no such man was ever on the Alabama, and that his statements were false; but up to this writing the Century has not given its readers the benefit of this proof. Recently, however, this veracious writer of ‘history’ has been proven to be a man of many aliases—a forger, a swindler, and fraud generally, and is now on trial for his crimes. Surely the Century will now acknowledge its injustice to Semmes in allowing this fellow to write the story of ‘The Alabama.’

Confederates who will criticise adversely their leaders and disparage their comrades seem to be prime favorites with the Century.

Barnes's brief history of the United States’ has gotten into unexpected trouble. In its zealous efforts to so ‘sugar-coat the pill’ that gullible School Boards at the South would the more easily swallow as ‘National’ their grossly partisan history, the publishers have brought upon themselves the charge of making a ‘Rebel Book,’ and are under the necessity of making an elaborate defence (which some friend has sent us), and of proving that their book is not ‘Rebel,’ but ‘trooly loil.’ If they will call on us we will give them a certificate to that effect. Moreover, we will certify to all Southern School Boards that Barnes, the ‘Eclectic’ (which the Virginia State Board has very properly kicked out of the Public Schools of Virginia), and books of that ilk, are not fit to be used in our schools, and should never be put in the hands of the children of ‘the men who wore the Gray.’ Let our children be taught the truth, and learn to take as their heroes not Lincoln, and Grant, and Sherman, and Sheridan, but Davis, and Lee, and Sidney Johnston, and ‘StonewallJackson, and Stuart, and A. P. Hill, and the ragged veterans who followed them to an immortality of fame.

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