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I have been repeatedly solicited to publish the experiences of my three years' army life while laboring in connection with the U. S. Sanitary Commission, and have only consented to do so through renewed importunities from quarters eminently entitled to consideration. It has been urged, that sketches of the interior and every-day life of the great Union Army, in hospital and in the field, can alone convey a just idea of its animus and morale; that this work should be done at once, before facts become dim outlines in the vista of memory, or engulfed in the ocean of the past; that these simple sketches should be furnished by those who witnessed and became part of them; so that in the future, they may be gathered by the hand of some skilful artist, and wrought into the mighty warp of the rebellion, embellishing its naked outlines and bloody scenes, more richly than the gold and silver figures of the famous gobelin art. My narrative is a simple statement of facts, more eloquent than words, and deeds more thrilling than fiction. The title of the book denotes its prevailing character. It is an indisputable fact, that while our great military leaders conceived and planned campaigns unparalleled in history, which eventuated in such triumphant success, the "rank and file” of the army largely endured their hardslups, and with unflagging zeal
conquered for us a glorious and honorable peace. “None declare this more boldly and persistently than our leading military men, and none feel more desirous, that the patience, suffering, and heroism of these brave men should be recorded.
I should be unwilling, now that the war has closed, to say aught to revivify, what should be buried issues; but justice to the soldier, and historical accuracy, compel me to represent affairs as they were, thus placing the honor and the shame where they justly belong. The South, when it attacked the flag, threw down the gauntlet, and unloosed tongues as well as swords. Without malice or bitterness, the record should be made, as a warning to future generations. The brave men who upheld the Government in her hour of trial should be justified and magnified, while those who inaugurated four years' fratricidal war, that robbed the Union of
half a million of freemen, broke unnumbered hearts, wrecked as • many homes, imposed a vast national debt, requiring heavy taxa
tion, and clad the nation in mourning, should be severely condemned, no matter how mistaken, prejudiced or sincere in their
It was my rare privilege to become personally acquainted with many of our great military leaders, at their posts of honor and danger. During the progress of the war, I had also the opportunity of meeting and corresponding with our lamented President, and distinguished statesmen at Washington, with regard to the interests of the army.
Whenever the incidents of these interviews, or their letters, have a bearing on the narrative, they are introduced. I also give sketches of heroic wives and mothers, who laid more than their lives upon their country's altar, and record some of the deeds of the brave women, who followed the soldiers to camp and hospital, to alleviate their sufferings—even to die, that
they might live. The self-denying liberality, labor and zeal of thousands of our countrywomen are known of all men. Special notice, however, of the women of the North-West, with whom I labored for three years, must be admitted here, else should I fail to offer an example, calculated to stimulate and encourage women in all time to come.
In carrying out this plan, I have a long-coveted opportunity to testify what I saw and heard of the various benevolent and patriotic schemes for the benefit of the army, especially of the glorious work of that heaven-born charity, the U.S. Sanitary Commission, with which I labored from the beginning to the close of the war.
The two years that have elapsed since the close of my active war life, form a vista through which past events and impressions assume more just proportions, and have afforded time and opportunity for more calm reflection and correct estimates than could have been made at an earlier period. The people feel this, and are now prepared to accept what has been winnowed by time, and tested by absolute results. With these explanations I submit the “Boys in Blue" to the soldiers and their friends, concluding with a quotatiop from the speech of our lamented President at the Philadelphia Fair. After praising the women of the war, he added, truly: "Say what you will, after all the most is due to the soldier, who takes his life in his hand and goes to fight the battles of his country.”