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The Hon. RUSSELL A. ALGER, Secretary of War,
COL. FRED C. AINSWORTH, U. S. ARMY,
SERIES II—VOLUME III.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE.
Un 3 ser. 2 v. 3
The work of preparing the records of the war for public use was begun under the resolution of Congress of May 19, 1864, by Adjt. Gen. E. D. Townsend, U. S. Army, who caused copies to be made of reports of battles on file in his office and steps to be taken to collect missing records.
Under the provisions of joint resolution No. 91, of 1866, Hon. Peter H. Watson was appointed to supervise the preparation and formulate a plan for the publication of the records, but he did no work and drew no pay under this appointment, which expired July 27, 1868, by limitation of the resolution. This resolution also repealed the former one and work ceased.
The first decisive step taken in this work was the act of June 23, 1874, providing the necessary means "to enable the Secretary of War to begin the publication of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, both of the Union and Confederate Armies," and directing him "to have copied for the Public Printer all reports, letters, telegrams, and general orders, not heretofore copied or printed, and properly arranged in chronological order." Appropriations have been made from time to time for continuing such preparation. Under this act the preliminary work was resumed by General Townsend, who first outlined the plan on which the records are printed, though it appears that originally he contemplated publishing to the world only the more important military reports.
Subsequently, under meager appropriations, it was prosecuted in a somewhat desultory manner by various subordinates of the War Department until December 14, 1877, when the Secretary of War, perceiving that the undertaking needed the undivided attention of a single head, detailed Lieut. Col. Robert N. Scott, U. S. Army, to take charge of the bureau and devote himself exclusively to the work.
"The act of June 23, 1874, greatly enlarged upon the first crude scheme of publication. On this more comprehensive basis it was determined that the volumes should include not only the battle reports, but also "all official documents that can be obtained by the compiler, and that appear to be of any historical value." Colonel Scott systematized the work and the plan and presented the records in the following order of arrangement, which has been adhered to by his successors:
The first series will embrace the formal reports, both Union and Confederate, of the first seizures of United States property in the Southern States, and of all military operations in the field, with the correspondence, orders, and returns relating specially thereto, and, as proposed, is to be accompanied by an Atlas.