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His Sombre Rivals

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A Story of the Civil War


(1883)


Preface:


The following story has been taking form in my mind for several years, and at last I have been able to write it out. With a regret akin to sadness, I take my leave, this August day, of people who have become very real to me, whose joys and sorrows I have made my own. Although a Northern man, I think my Southern readers will feel that I have sought to do justice to their motives. At this distance from the late Civil War, it is time that passion and prejudice sank below the horizon, and among the surviving soldiers who were arrayed against each other I think they have practically disappeared. Stern and prolonged conflict taught mutual respect. The men of the Northern armies were convinced, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they had fought men and Americans-- men whose patriotism and devotion to a cause sacred to them was as pure and lofty as their own. It is time that sane men and women should be large-minded enough to recognize that, whatever may have been the original motives of political leaders, the people on both sides were sincere and honest; that around the camp-fires at their hearths and in their places of worship they looked for God's blessing on their efforts with equal freedom from hypocrisy.

I have endeavored to portray the battle of Bull Run as it could appear to a civilian spectator: to give a suggestive picture and not a general description. The following war-scenes are imaginary, and colored by personal reminiscence. I was in the service nearly four years, two of which were spent with the cavalry. Nevertheless, justly distrustful of my knowledge of military affairs, I have submitted my proofs to my friend Colonel H. C. Hasbrouck, Commandant of Cadets at West Point, and therefore have confidence that as mere sketches of battles and skirmishes they are not technically defective.

The title of the story will naturally lead the reader to expect that deep shadows rest upon many of its pages. I know it is scarcely the fashion of the present time to portray men and women who feel very deeply about anything, but there certainly was deep feeling at the time of which I write, as, in truth, there is to-day. The heart of humanity is like the ocean. There are depths to be stirred when the causes are adequate.


E. P. R. CORNWALL-ON-THE-HUDSON, August 21, 1883.



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