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John M. Schofield was a well known Union general in the Civil War, and this is his memoir about serving in the Army for 5 decades. From the preface: “Most of the Chapters constituting the contents of this volume, were written, from time to time, as soon as practicable after the events referred to, or after the publication of historical writings which seemed to me to require comment from the point of view of my personal knowledge. They were written entirely without reserve, and with the sole purpose of telling exactly what I thought and believed, not with any purpose of publication in my lifetime, but as my contribution to the materials which may be useful to the impartial historian of some future generation. These writings had been put away for safe-keeping with “instructions for the guidance of my executors,” in which I said:

“All the papers must be carefully revised, errors corrected if any are found, unimportant matter eliminated, and everything omitted which may seem, to a cool and impartial judge, to be unjust or unnecessarily harsh or severe toward the memory of any individual. I have aimed to be just, and not unkind. If I have failed in any case, it is my wish that my mistakes may be corrected, as far as possible. I have not attempted to write history, but simply to make a record of events personally known to me, and of my opinion upon such acts of others, and upon such important subjects, as have come under my special notice. It is my contribution to the materials from which the future historian must draw for his data for a truthful history of our time.”

Now, in the winter of 1896-97, I have endeavored to discharge, as far as I am able, the duty which I had imposed on my executors, and have decided to publish what I had written in past years, with corrections and comments, while many of the actors in the great drama of the Civil War are still living and can assist in correcting any errors into which I may have fallen.
After my Chapters relating to the campaign of 1864 in Tennessee were in type, the monograph by General J. D. Cox, entitled “Franklin,” was issued from the press of Charles Scribner’s Sons. His work and mine are the results of independent analysis of the records, made without consultation with each other.”

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