Burnside Biography (Preface)

Major-General Ambrose E. Burnside and the Ninth Army Corps:
A Narrative of Campaigns in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, During the War for the Preservation of the Republic.

Augustus Woodbury, 1866
Available on Google Books: http://goo.gl/1xx3Qq

FOR the volume which is here given to the public, no more is claimed than that which appears upon the title page. It is a simple narrative — in the four distinct parts into which the subject naturally divided itself — of the actions and events in which the soldiers of the Ninth Army Corps and their principal commander participated. No corps in the army, with the exception of those which made the grand march from Atlanta to the coast and up through the Carolinas, has performed more arduous service, or marched or fought over a wider territory than the Ninth. The soldiers used to speak of themselves as composing ” the first class in geography.” It can hardly be expected that, in traversing so extensive a field, I have succeeded in avoiding all mistakes. One or two errors have already been detected, but unfortunately not till after the sheets had been printed, when it was impossible to rectify them. In general, however, I think it will be found that the story is as truthfully told as it could well have been by one, who was not an eye witness of the scenes which he describes. I shall be very grateful to any person who will point out to me any errors into which I have unwittingly fallen. My design has simply been to tell a plain, unvarnished tale. I have sought to extenuate nothing, and I am sure that I have set down nothing in malice. I have sought to narrate actual occurrences, rather than to express opinions. If, in some instances, the statements which here appear are somewhat different from those which others have made, all that I wish to insist upon is, that they are the statements of facts, and not of prejudice or fancy.

One mistake, which no one regrets more than myself, occurs upon page 253, where the 9th New Hampshire regiment is spoken of, as though it had been separated from the Corps for a time, and then returned to it. Such was not the fact. The 9th New Hampshire was connected with the Corps from the beginning unto the end. It joined the Corps in the latter part of August, 1862, having then just arrived from home, and was assigned to General Sturgis’s division. It immediately entered into active service, was very creditably engaged at South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg, went West, was in the Mississippi campaign, was on garrison duty in Kentucky, gaining deserved honor by its good discipline, returned to the East with the Corps, and shared in all the operations of the summer of 1804 and around Petersburg, until the close of the war. Everywhere the regiment performed manful and soldierly service, and won for itself and its State, in its earliest days as in its last, an honorable fame. Its officers were brave and able, and its enlisted men, at its original organization, were drawn from the ranks of the intelligent yeomanry of the Granite State. My regret, for the occurrence of the error respecting its career, is lessened by the satisfaction which I feel in giving this particular notice of its faithful service.

My grateful acknowledgments are due to the officers of the Ninth Corps for acts of consideration and confidence, and for the readiness with which they have entrusted to me many of their cherished papers and documents. I wish expressly to declare my obligations to Generals Burnside, Parke, Willcox, Cox, Potter and Ferrero, for repeated kindnesses; to General S. G. Griffin, for the use of his manuscript notes; to General Loring, for many excellent suggestions and much indispensable information; to Lieutenant Colonel Larned, for constant and laborious cooperation, and to Alexander Farnum, Esq., of Providence, for most important assistance.

I thus send forth my book, hoping for it, from the general public, a kindly reception, and trusting that the officers and men of the Ninth Corps will look upon it with considerate favor, as an appreciative, though imperfect story of their patriotism and valor.
A.W.
Providence, R. I., December, 1866.