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THE UNION VOLUNTEERS
WHO FLEW TO THE RESCUE OF THEIR IMPERILED COUNTRY
THEY SO LOVED HER
THAT THEY JOYFULLY PROFFERED THEIR OWN LIVES TO SAVE HERS;
The author had expected to finish this work early in the current year, but he found himself unable to compress it within the limits originally intended. The important events of the War for the Union were so many; its area was so vast, its duration so considerable; the minor collisions and other incidents were so multifa: rious, yet often so essential to a clear understanding of its progress and results, that this volume has expanded far beyond his intent, and required for its preparation extra months of assiduous and engrossing labor. Even now, though its contents probably exceed in amount those of any other single volume which the War has called forth, it barely touches some points which may be deemed essential to a clear understanding of the whole matter. Of the War itself, however—that is, of the Military events which made up the physical struggle initiated by Secession—this volume aspires to give a clear though necessarily condensed account, from the opening of the year 1862 down to the final and complete overthrow of the Confederacy. That all his judgments will be concurred in by every reader, the author has no right to expect; but his aim has been to set forth events as they occurred, and as they will appear to clear-sighted observers a century hence; and he rests in the confident belief that those who dissent from his conclusions will nevertheless respect the sincerity with which they are cherished, and the frankness wherewith they are avowed.
THE History which this Volume completes was not contemplated by its author till just after the Draft Riots by which this Emporium was damaged and disgraced in July, 1863. Up to the occurrence of those Riots, I had not been habitually confident of an auspicious immediate issue from our momentous struggle. Never doubting that the ultimate result would be such as to vindicate emphatically the profoundly wise beneficence of God, it had seemed to me more probable—in view of the protracted and culpable complicity of the North in whatever of guilt or shame, of immorality or debasement, was inseparable from the existence and growth of American Slavery—that a temporary triumph might accrue to the Confederates. The real danger of the Republic was not that of permanent division, but of general saturation by and subjugation to the despotic ideas and aims of the Slaveholding Oligarchy. Had the Confederacy proved able to wrest from the Federal authorities an acknowledgment of its Independence, and had Peace been established and ratified on that basis, I believe the Democratic Party in the loyal States would have forth with taken ground for “restoration' by the secession of their respective States, whether jointly or severally, from the Union, and their adhesion to the Confederacy under its Montgomery Constitution-making Slavery universal and perpetual. And, under the moral influence of Southern triumph and Northern defeat, in full view of the certainty that thus only could rëunion be achieved, there can be little doubt that the law of political gravitation, of centripetal force, thus appealed to, must have ultimately prevailed. Commercial and manufacturing thrift would have gradually vanquished moral repugnance. It might have required some years to heal the wounds of War and secure a popular majority in three or four of the Border States in favor of Annexation; but the geographic and economic incitements to Union are so urgent and palpable, that State after State would have concluded to go to the mountain, since it stubbornly refused to come to Mahomet; and, all the States that the Confederacy would consent to accept, on conditions of penitence and abjuration, would, in time, have knocked humbly at its grim portals for admission and fellowship. That we have been saved from such a fate is due to the valor of our soldiers, the constancy of our ruling statesmen, the patriotic faith and courage of those citizens who, within a period of three years, loaned more than Two Billions to their Government when it seemed to iany just tottering on the brink of ruin; yet, more than all else, to the favor and blessing of Almighty God. They who, whether in Europe or America, from July, 1862, to July, 1863, believed the Union death-stricken, had the balance of material probabilities on their side: they erred only in underrating the potency of those intellectual, moral, and Providential forces, which in our age operate with accelerated power and activity in behalf of Liberty, Intelligence, and Civilization.
So long as it seemed probable that our War would result more immediately in a Rebel triumph, I had no wish, no heart, to be one of its historians; and it was only whenfollowing closely on the heels of the great Union successes of July, 1863, at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Port Hudson, and Helena–I had seen the Rebellion resisted and defeated in