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AMERICAN CIVIL WAR.
JOHN WILLIAM DRAPER, M.D., LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY AND PHYSIOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK
IN THREE VOLUMES.
CONTAINING THE EVENTS FROM THE PROCLAMATION OF THE EMAN-
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.
INTRODUCTION TO THE THIRD VOLUME.
In the work now completed by this volume I have endeavored to convert the annals of the Civil War into a history.
In the annals of a nation, each occurrence, whether important or unimportant, is presented as an isolated fact, irrespective of its bearing on the general course of affairs. Its philosophical connection with other occurrences is not necessarily traced out.
The first duty of one who would write a history is to take such annals of the events with which he has to deal, and to discover among them what may be termed the master-facts. In his narrative he must bring these into prominence, making them the conspicuous centres around which the minor or subordinate facts are grouped. The impression which he will finally leave on the mind of his reader depends upon the clearness of his narrative, and this, in its turn, depends upon the completeness with which the rule here indicated has been observed.
The events considered in this volume occurred between the Proclamation of Freedom to the Slaves and the end of the war. Chronologically they range from the 1st of January, 1863, to the close of the spring of 1865.
Applying the foregoing rule to them, they may be classified in the nine following sections, the enumeration being continued from the thirteenth section of Volume II.:
XIV. The Conquest of the Central Region of the Confederacy. XV. The Contest in the Atlantic region.
XVI. The Pressure on the Atlantic, Gulf, and Mississippi fronts of the Confederacy.
XVII. Operations preliminary to, or in connection with the final Campaigns.
XVIII. Piercing of the Cotton States by the Army of the West.
Adopting this as a convenient grouping of the facts to be considered, I have used the reports of the commanding generals on each side as a basis for the description of campaigns and battles. These I have compared with the reports of the subordinate officers, often thereby obtaining a clearer comprehension of the facts. Frequently I have corroborated the result by subsequent conversations or correspondence with the authors themselves. In every case I have preserved the original language as far as I consistently could, intending that my reader should feel that he is perusing an authentic history, in which the ideas, and even the language of the chief actors are preserved.
No graphic history of this war can be composed without consulting the publications of the newspaper army correspondents. They not only give glimpses of scenery and passing events-durable photographs of transitory things-but, often with extraordinary penetration, divine the reasons of military movements, and interpret the meaning of political acts.
I have been permitted to have access to sources of information of the most authoritative and private kind. Correspondence between eminent persons intimately concerned in the conduct of the war, and documents of the highest value, which probably may not become public for many years, have been confidentially granted for my guidance. In the course of the composition of these volumes I have perused many thousands of such manuscript pages.
It has not been my intention to limit my work to a mere narration of facts: I have endeavored to rise to a perception of their inter-relation. In this consists the philosophy of history. The success with which it is accomplished is the true criterion of the merit of any historical composition.
I will here repeat the remark made in the Introduction to the second volume, that "in the composition of this work I have been
greatly indebted to some of the chief actors in the events described. I can not sufficiently express the obligations I am under to them. They have not only given me much important-often confidentialinformation, but have added invaluable counsel as to the treatment of the whole subject.
"I shall esteem it a favor if any of my readers who may find on these pages errors in the narrative of facts will communicate to me such statements as they may consider nearer to the truth. I will give to their suggestions my earnest attention. Contemporary his. tory must pass the ordeal of examination of many thousand eye-witnesses of the events with which it deals, and this, indeed, constitutes its best recommendation to future times." But, if contemporary history has to confront so strict a tribunal, it is not without advantages, for by the evidence of eye-witnesses and actors alone can many events be understood and explained.
JOHN WILLIAM DRAPER.