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Synopsis

Immediately after the surrender of the Confederate armies engaged in the war between the States, General Lee undertook to write of the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia while under his command, and asked such assistance as I could give in supplying reports, despatches, and letters of his, the originals of which had been lost or destroyed. Under the impression that they could not be put to better use, such as were then in hand were packed and sent him. He gave up the work, and after a few years his death made it impossible that the world should ever receive the complete story of the Confederate campaigns in Virginia from the noble mind that projected and controlled them. Possibly, had I not expected our commander to write the history of those campaigns, I should have written it myself a decade or so earlier than I have done. But, personally, I am not sorry that I write of the war thirty years after its close, instead of ten or twenty. While I am so constituted, temperamentally, that I could view then almost exactly as I do now the great struggle in which I bore a part, I do not know that Others, in any considerable number, might have so regarded it at the earlier periods to which I refer. I believe that now, more fully than then, the public is ready to receive, in the spirit in which it is written, the story which I present

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