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Early in 1863 General Grant was under a cloud, blamed for heavy Union losses at Shiloh, called an undependable drunkard by his detractors. As Grant moved toward Vicksburg, the Lincoln administration needed to know more about what was happening in the remote western theater. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton dispatched a respected newspaperman, Charles A. Dana, ostensibly to straighten out payroll matters but actually to observe Grant and the situation in the army and report back daily. Dana became "the government's eyes at the front." Recollections of the Civil War, drawing largely on his reports and originally published in 1898, is a classic to rank with Grant's Personal Memoirs. Dana's candid assessment of Grant, other officers, and campaign operations carried weight with Lincoln and Stanton and undoubtedly influenced the course of the war. In these pages, Dana is with Grant and General Sherman throughout the siege of Vicksburg, riding into the city "at the side of the conqueror." Later he is with Grant at Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. He is with General Rosecrans at Chickamauga; he watches General Sheridan's troops scale Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga; he walks through the ruins of Richmond; he attends Lincoln on his deathbed. Finally, he sees Jefferson Davis in chains at Fortress Monroe.
Introducing this Bison Books edition is Charles E. Rankin, the editor of Montana The Magazine of Western History.