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The Boys of '61 or, Four Years of Fighting, Personal Observations with the Army and Navy   By: (1823-1896)

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First Page:

THE BOYS OF '61;

or,

FOUR YEARS OF FIGHTING.

PERSONAL OBSERVATION WITH THE ARMY AND NAVY,

FROM THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN TO THE FALL OF RICHMOND

BY

CHARLES CARLETON COFFIN,

AUTHOR OF "THE BOYS OF '76," "THE STORY OF LIBERTY," "WINNING HIS WAY." "MY DAYS AND NIGHTS ON THE BATTLEFIELD," "FOLLOWING THE FLAG," "OUR NEW WAY ROUND THE WORLD," ETC.

ILLUSTRATED.

BOSTON: PUBLISHED BY ESTES AND LAURIAT, 301 305 WASHINGTON STREET. 1886.

Copyright, 1881 by ESTES AND LAURIAT.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by CHARLES CARLETON COFFIN, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

[Illustration: Charge through an abattis.]

PREFATORY NOTE.

This volume, though historic, is not a history of the Rebellion, but a record of personal observations and experiences during the war, with an occasional look at affairs in general to give clearness to the narrative. The time has not arrived for the writing of an impartial history of the conflict between Slavery and Freedom in the United States. Reports of military operations are incomplete; documents in the archives at Washington are inaccessible; much material remains to be gathered before the patient historian can sift the wheat from the chaff. More than this, the war of ideas is not yet ended. Defeated Rebels in some parts of the South are bent on exterminating the African race. Few of those lately in rebellion plead guilty of having committed a crime; taking up arms against the government they consider to have been a blunder only. We are, therefore, too near the great events to render proper judgment upon questions in which our principles and sympathies have been enlisted.

The chapter concerning the Confederate Cotton Loan may seem to be out of place in a volume of which so large a portion is given to narrative, but I trust that it will be acceptable to the general reader, inasmuch as it reveals the efforts of the Rebels to array all Europe against the United States in the late struggle. The correspondence in my possession was picked up in the streets of Richmond, and will be of value to the future historian. The chapter in question is but an outline of the operations of the Confederates abroad.

In looking over the sheets as they came from the press, several errors relative to the organization and formation of troops in battle have been detected, which, however, will appear in but a few copies. Undoubtedly there are others, and the writer will esteem it a favor to be put right wherever he is in the wrong. Few official reports of regimental and brigade officers have been published, while the reports of division and corps commanders are only general in their statements. The true history of battles cannot be given till the history of regiments is written.

My stand point as an observer is that of one whose instincts from early childhood have been on the side of Freedom. I have ever believed that Civil Liberty is the birthright of all men, and from the firing upon Sumter to the close of the contest had full faith that the people, under God, would subdue the Rebellion, and give freedom to the slave.

The four years have been worth a century of ordinary life; for in the mighty contest Right has triumphed over Wrong, and the human race, with a clearer perception of Truth and Justice as the sure foundation of government, is moving on to a higher civilization.

C. C. C.

CONTENTS.

INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER.

BEGINNING OF THE CONFLICT. Page Ideas and Principles. Battles witnessed. The Leaders. State of Affairs. Baltimore. Dulness in the Streets. Baltimore Women. Raw Troops. Visit to Fort McHenry. Washington. Material of the Army... Continue reading book >>




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