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WAR OF THE REBELLION:
A COMPILATION OF THE
UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES.
PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF
The Hon. RUSSELL A. ALGER, Secretary of War,
BRIG. GEN. FRED C. AINSWORTH,
MR. JOSEPH W. KIRKLEY.
SERIES II—VOLUME VIII.
The work of preparing the records of the war for public use was begun, under the resolution of Congress of May 19, 1864, by Col. E. D. Townsend, assistant adjutant-general, U. S. Army (then in charge of the Adjutant-General's Office, and subsequently the Adjutant-General), 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 of July 27, 1866, Hon. Peter H. Watson was appointed to supervise the preparation of the records and to formulate a plan for their publication, but he performed no service under this appointment, which expired July 27, 1868, by limi. tation. This resolution having also repealed the former one, the project was suspended for the time being.
The first decisive step taken 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.
Subsequently, under meager appropriations, it was prosecuted in a somewhat desultory manner by various subordinates of the War De. partment until December 14, 1877, when the Secretary of War, perceiving that the undertaking needed the undivided attention of a single head, detailed Capt. Robert N. Scott, Third U. S. Artillery (subsequently major and lieutenant-colonel same regiment), to take charge of the office.
The act of June 23, 1874, enlarged upon the first scheme of publication. On this more comprehensive basis it was determined that the volumes should include not only the battle roports, correspondence, etc., in possession of the War Department, 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, upon his recommendation, the Secretary of War approved the following order of publication:
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.