The introduction continues: “Conscious of my own inability to meet the demands of so great an undertaking, I have not attempted it, but with an earnest desire to contribute something toward such future history these reminiscences have been written. I have endeavored to make my review of that most heroic era so condensed as to claim the attention of busy people, and so impartial as to command the confidence of the fair-minded of all sections. It has been my fixed purpose to make a brief but dispassionate and judicially fair analysis of the divergent opinions and ceaseless controversies which for half a century produced an ever-widening alienation between the sections, and which finally plunged into the fiercest and bloodiest of fratricidal wars a great and enlightened people who were of the same race, supporters of the same Constitution, and joint heirs of the same freedom. I have endeavored to demonstrate that the courage displayed and the ratio of losses sustained were unprecedented in modern warfare. I have also recorded in this volume a large number of those characteristics and thrilling incidents which illustrate a unique and hitherto unwritten phase of the war, the story of which should not be lost, because it is luminous with the noblest lessons. Many of these incidents came under my own observation. They marked every step of the war’s progress, were often witnessed by both armies, and were of almost daily occurrence in the camps, on the marches, and between the lines; increasing in frequency and pathos as the war progressed, and illustrate the distinguished magnanimity and lofty manhood of the American soldier.
“It will be found, I trust, that no injustice has been done to either section, to any army, or to any of the great leaders, but that the substance and spirit of the following pages will tend rather to lift to a higher plane the estimate placed by victors and vanquished upon their countrymen of the opposing section, and thus strengthen the sentiment of intersectional fraternity which is essential to complete national unity.”