The editor has endeavored to give the best of the inspirations. A desire to announce the authorship of the pieces has been gratified in most instances. Where requests have been made not to give names and places and circumstances, by whom, and where they have been written, they have been regarded, the spirit, meaning and intent not being affected, nor in the least abated by such a course. To those who have assisted in collecting, the editor returns his thanks. After this volume reaches those who are interested, should any of them desire to correct mistakes that may have crept into it, he will be glad to make the changes required.
Should any one, into whose hands the volume may fall, know of copies of songs or ballads, or of letters and incidents upon which such are founded—songs and ballads, letters or incidents not already collected in book form—the editor will be glad to be advised, that means may be taken for their permanent preservation, which he is using every endeavor to secure. A postal card, giving name and residence, addressed to him, in the care of his publishers, D. Appleton and Company, New York City, will receive immediate attention.
The essence of history exists in its songs. Those that are carried in the memory are earliest forgotten. It is a praiseworthy plan that saves all. Will those who “know them by heart,” and have “sung them in camp and in battle,” help to rescue them from oblivion?
Emotional literature is always a correct exponent of public sentiment, and these songs index the passionate sincerity of the South at the time they were written.
Poetic merit is not claimed for all of them; still each one embodies either a fact or a principle. Written in an era of war, when the public mind was thoroughly aroused, some may now appear harsh and vindictive. Eight millions of people read and sang them. This fact alone warrants their collection and preservation.
A greater number of the songs have been gathered from Southern newspapers. The task has been laborious, but still a labor of love, as no work of this kind has before been offered to the public.