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THE production of a History of the Southern Rebellion and the War for the Union which shall cover the entire subject, in all its aspects and relations, is a work of magnitude, comprising three distinct histories, each of which might properly demand a specific record. The Political, Social and Military conditions of the Rebellion are so clearly defined as to offer strong claims for their separate consideration; still, each is but part of a single whole; and each are so interwoven as to be treated in unity.
In assuming the responsibility of producing the History in its comprehensive form, I felt, but too keenly, the requisition for the exercise of abilities which but few persons are permitted to call their own. Clearness of apprehension, correctness of judgment, impartiality, power of grouping and association, patience of research-all to be guided by a style of narrative at once clear, concise, and impressive, surely I might well have shrunk from the ordeal. But, the earnest desire to see the much-needed work performed, to place the public in possession of the story of the Secession Revolution,overcame apprehension for the result, and induced me to assume the responsible trust. How that trust has been discharged, the public must judge.
From the outset I have had to contend against the quantity of data offered as material for my work. The historian generally seeks for multiplicity in his authorities, thus to be the more able to secure a correct version of his story; but, in the present instance at least, there has been only too much "authority" offered. What with interminable versions of the same affair in almost countless papers--with news dispatches from responsible and irresponsible sources-with letters written in a partisan spirit, in ignorance or in malice with endless Convention reports, speeches, ordinances, resolutions, &c.—with Legislative proceedings of many States-with the proceedings of two Congresses, and the documents of two cotemporary Executives-with the great ebb and flow of popular feeling in all sections, as represented by two thousand newspapers-I have been fairly oppressed with the weight and multitude of my witnesses. To reduce this chaos to order was a labor of many days, and if, in the reproduction of testimony offered, occasional errors have occurred, I feel that they were unavoidable, considering the circumstances under which this History has been produced-thirty-two octavo letter-press pages being demanded weekly. Still, I can but hope that errors of facts are few :-if they do occur, it is from no purpose to modify the record, nor to suppress the truth.
I acknowledge every obligation to the New York daily journals. Their extraordinary facilities of information, their vast net-work of correspondence, render them cotemporary chroniclers which no book-maker can slight in the composition of a history of the times. Their editorial views, or partisan bias, scarcely affect the statement of events, in which posterity will be chiefly concerned. Where a difference of statement has been made, having the several leading dailies at hand, and other collateral evidence, it is not necessary for the careful collaborateur of evidence to be led estray by the "writing up" or the "writing down" of editors and correspondents.
In reporting Congressional proceedings I have used, to a great extent, telegraphic abstracts or digests. Having before me, however, the Congressional Globe, I have been enabled to correct those errors incident to mere news dispatches; while, in the case of the great "representative" speeches of leading members of the two Houses, I have chiefly had recourse to the Official (Globe) reports. The pages of this work, therefore, become, cz necessitate rei, a repository of some of the finest specimens of eloquence and dialectics which now are a part of our oratorical treasures.
The State Papers and Documents reproduced are such as have true historical value and significance. I have used abstracts of such papers in but few instances, preferring that the public should be placed in possession of the originals. In the future, when this great struggle shall enlist, in its exposition, writers of various views, it will be the surest safe guard against misinterpretation or partizan zeal to be possessed of the official records. Having these, the intelligent reader need have no fears of being misled in his judgments.
The detail of State Legislature' and State Convention's proceedings has, to a large extent, been omitted. I preferred not to encumber the narrative with the processes of legislation when the final results would convey all historically necessary information. A volume would be required for each State, if its doings were given in detail. Such a work it will remain for some citizen in each State to perform, who shall have access to all sources of local information and proceedings. I may here confess my many obligations to leading citizens throughout the country for the interest they have taken in my labors. For their valuable suggestions, for their generous remittances of important documents and special information, for their publicly and privately expressed opinions regarding the work I was performing, I can but be grateful. In my future labors I trust their good offices will not be intermitted. I shall be ever happy to receive any information or sugges tions which can add to the value of this History.
PRELIMINARY CHAPTER.-History of former Conspiracies....
HISTORICAL SUMMARY OF EVENTS, from November 6th, 1860, to December 27th, 1860...
Others. The Crittenden Com-
derson. The Forts of Charles-
lutions. The Army Bill. Mis-
mise. The Democracy Opposed