On this semi-centennial of the American Civil War-the war of the modern Roses in the Western World-these volumes are dedicated to the American People in tribute to the courage and the valor with which they met one of the greatest crises that a nation has ever known0a crisis that changed the course of civilization. We look back at Napoleon through the glamor of time, without fully realized that here on our own continent are battlegrounds more noble in their purport than all the wars of the ancient regimes. The decades have shrouded the first American Revolution in romance, but the time has now come when this second American revolution, at the turning point of its first half century, is to become an American epic in which nearly three and a half million men gather on the battle-line to offer their lives for principles that were dear to them.
It is as an American “Battle Abbey” that these pages are opened on this anniversary, so that the eyes of the generations may look upon the actual scenes-not upon the tarnished muskets, the silenced cannon, nor the battle-stained flag, but upon the warriors themselves standing on the firing-line in the heroic struggle when the hosts of the North and the legions of the South met on the battleground of a nation’s ideals, with the destiny of a continent hanging in the balance. And what a tribute it is to American character to be able to gather about these pages in peace and brotherhood, without malice and without dissension, within a generation from the greatest fratricidal tragedy in the annals of mankind. This vision is no longer blinded by heart wounds, but as Americans we can see only the heroic self-sacrifice of these men who battled for the decision of one of the worlds greatest problems.