Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/301

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into the narrative too much of my own personality, I beg to remind them that, in relating my <>\vn experiences. I have ever kept steadily in view a doire to give them a correct idea of the men and times of which I write, and of war scenes of which the historian takes little account. History too often moves along on stilts, giving a very im- perfect idea of the realities of war.

It constantly keeps before the eye the deeds and supposed achieve- ments of the great figures and the great movements of the contend- ing forces. This is all very well, but of this I think the public has a surfeit, and I have tried to give them some insight into the interior working of the great machinery of war. I have been actuated in this labor by a desire to oblige an old comrade of those days of which I write, and I trust you will find it such as you desired it to be. Your friend and comrade,


The following is the sketch referred to in the foregoing letter:


In the winter of i86o-'6i, I was a student at Judge Brocken- borough's celebrated law school in Lexington, Va. The law class, I think, was fairly representative of the feelings and opinions of the people of Virginia at that time. It was composed of bright young men from all sections of the State, and I well remember how dif- ferent were the feelings with which the news of Lincoln's election was received by the Union men and the secessionists. The latter rejoiced " with an exceeding great joy," hailing his election as the harbinger of Southern independence, whilst the former were cor- respondingly depressed, recognizing in that untoward event the token of coming disaster to our common country.


As the session wore on and spring advanced, secession was a frequent topic of discussion in our debating-society, I with others taking the Union side in these discussions to the last. Soon our noble old preceptor became a candidate for the Convention, and called in William McLaughlin (afterwards the commander of a bat- talion of light artillery in the Confederate army and now a circuit judge) as his assistant in teaching our class. Public meetings were held, and old Dr. George Junkin, of Washington College, with his squeaking voice, frequently addressed those meetings and managed