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The historical position of Massachusetts, from her colonial days until now, is alone a sufficient reason for undertaking this work, offered to the public as a record of the part borne by the State in the suppression of the Great Rebellion.
There is another consideration, of some importance, which was not overlooked. It must be from local records of the popular support of the General Government in the contest, mainly, that the future historian will gather his materials for authentic and complete annals of the conflict. While the author is not a son of Massachusetts, but of New York, he confesses to an enthusiastic admiration of the Bay State and of New England, strengthened by domestic ties whose genealogical lines run back to the “ Mayflower.” He cannot be accused of the effort to parade the virtues and extol the deeds of the people of his native State; a consideration which may entitle him to some confidence in the impartiality and truthfulness of design in preparing a narrative necessarily incomplete in many of its details.
To secure authentic materials, the request has been made, through the press and by correspondence, for information from officers and others upon the topics presented in these pages. In regard to the regiments and public men not heard from through officers and friends, the author was compelled to depend wholly upon the able reports of the Adjutant-General of the State, and such reliable fragments as were found in books or in the periodical
press. This statement will explain, for the most part, the reason why the regimental histories differ much in length.
Where a narrative has been furnished by a competent hand, he has not felt at liberty very materially to alter it, excepting personal sketches, whose condensation, with that of other contributions to the work, was demanded by the limited space and accumulating material, which, as it has come to him, has been impartially used.
Unpleasant incidents in official relations and army experiences have not been introduced to any extent, because it was no part of the design of this volume to discuss questions of demerit and incapacity, but to give the record of substantial service and honorable achievement.
It was desired, and the effort accordingly made, to have portraits of all the general officers of Massachusetts; but it was only partially successful.
The author is indebted to Mr. Samuel Burnham of Boston for the sketch of Senator Sumner, and for assistance in other portions of the volume; to Chaplain Quint for the sketch of the Second Regiment, and a statement of the position of the churches and clergy in the war; to Rev. F. Hendricks of Philadelphia, Penn., who condensed several of the regimental histories from the Adjutant-General's reports; to Gov. Andrew, Gen. Schouler, and clerks, and to Major Henry Ware; Senator Wilson and Representative Rice, Assistant Secretary Fox, of the Navy Department, and Mr. Saxton, chief clerk, for valuable documents and statements; and to Count L. B. Schwabe for pen and pencil portraits of fallen heroes, from his national gallery, and many facts from his remarkable knowledge of the war-record of the State. For the sake of uniformity, extracts from official reports, where the authorship was not known, have nothing to mark them as quotations.
It is proper to state, that the selection of portraits of fallen heroes was governed by no personal partialities, but by circumstances beyond the author's control; and was designed to represent different parts of the Commonwealth.
Errors doubtless will be discovered by the reader; and these, it is hoped, will be communicated to the author through the publishers, for correction in future editions, so far as practicable.
The publishers have clearly done their part to make the volume acceptable to the people ; and it is committed to them in the hope that it will not be an unwelcome memorial of their loyalty.
P. C. H.
Bostox, August, 1866.