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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XV. Later Historians

§ 10. Accounts of the Civil War

Draper’s history of the Civil War brings him into relation with a group of patriotic writers who attempted to record the history of the struggle. The books that first appeared, as William Swinton’s Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac (1866) and Horace Greeley’s American Conflict (2 vols., 1864–66), were tinged with prejudice, however much the authors strove to keep it down. After ten years or more had passed a calmer attitude existed, and we encounter a number of books in which is discerned a serious striving to attain impartiality. In this stage the first notable effort was the series published by the Scribners known as Campaigns of the Civil War (13 vols., 1881–90), in which prominent military men co-operated. It was followed by a similar series called The Navy in the Civil War (3 vols., 1885). Another co-operative work, much read at the time and still valuable, was Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (4 vols., 1887–89), a collection of short papers written by participants in the war, and presenting the views on both sides of the struggle. Robert Underwood Johnson and Clarence Clough Buel were the editors whose good judgment and industry made the series a striking success. The same spirit of impartiality was observed in The Story of the Civil War by John Codman Ropes (1836–99), which came to an end after two volumes had been published (1894 and 1898). To many people Ropes’s volumes seemed to promise the best military history of the war we were likely to have.

A large number of books of personal experience appeared from the hands of men who had taken a prominent part in the war, and some of them have merit as literature. The most notable in content and style was Ulysses Simpson Grant’s Personal Memoirs (2 vols., 1885, 1886). It was written in simple and direct language and dealt with things in which the humblest citizens could feel interest. Other important books of similar nature were: William Tecumseh Sherman’s Memoirs (2 vols., 1875); Philip Henry Sheridan’s Personal Memoirs (2 vols., 1888); George Brinton McClellan’s My Own Story (1887); and Charles Anderson Dana’s Recollections of the Civil War (1898).