« PreviousContinue »
1874, May 7.
Um. J. Diper,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865,
BY L. STEBBINS,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
In the following pages it has been attempted to give a succinct and authentic narrative of the war against the American Union, which, commencing practically with the secession of South Carolina in the autumn of 1860, in consequence of the election of Mr. Lincoln, terminated a few weeks after the second inauguration of the same chief magistrate. Although the period embraced within these limits comprises less than four and a half years, yet so prolific were these years of great events and great ideas, so radical were the social and political changes which they involved, so numerous the civil and military chiefs they brought into public notice, that a single volume may appear inadequate to describe the History of the Great Rebellion. Undoubtedly to another age and to another generation of writers belongs the elaborate treatment of special episodes of the struggle. Passion must also become cool, prejudices be softened, and the light of truth illumine many passages, at present obscure, before effects can be traced to their proper causes, and such a history be written as will bear the unmistakable imprint of accuracy and impartiality; and few, probably, who read these pages, will live to see that time. Our materials at present are like the direct evidence educed at a trial-the cross-examination has not yet been had. Meanwhile, however, a work which shall refresh and re-enforce the memory, bewildered by the rapid march of events, and give a clear outline of what these
wonderful four years and a half have brought forth, to be filled out by materials which the future alone can furnish. may not be undesirable. Such the present volume assumes to be; and it is confidently believed that no important civil or military event will be found to have been omitted from its pages. To the writer of contemporaneous history little opportunity is presented for philosophic generalization, and the author has gladly avoided speculations, which, from the necessity of the case, could only be crude and premature, contenting himself for the most part with recording facts, and leaving the reader to draw his own inferences. That his narrative has been written from a Union point of view will be sufficiently apparent, and for that circumstance he neither desires to apologize nor expects that an apology will be required. The sources of his information have been, wherever obtainable, official documents, and particularly the reports of generals who have conducted active operations in the field, or whose position has enabled them to describe such operations with accuracy. Where materials of this nature were not to be obtained, free use has been made of the voluminous and often graphic narratives of the army correspondents of the daily press-a branch of literature to which the war has given a surprising development, and which must be largely referred to by future historians.