FIRST REGIMENT VIRGINIA INFANTRY.
THE SOCIETY OF THE FIRST VIRGINIA INFANTRY,
Composed of the
SURVIVING MEMBERS OF THE TWO REGIMENTS,
and to the
FAMILIES OF DECEASED COMRADES.
A LABOR OF LOVE.
C. E. Irwin. S. F. Dean. W. W. Gilchrist. Jas. A. Henry. C. J. Rawling.
SELECTED by my comrades of the regiment for the task of preparing a short history of the three months' and three years' regiments (First Virginia) in the War of the Rebellion, - 1861 to 1865, - the writer commences his duty with hesitation, feeling his incompetency to do justice to the subject, and with wakeful apprehension of what is in store for him from the carpers and the critics.
This narrative little more than a synopsis of events, cannot be made complete for several reasons, the more important of which may be mentioned, - viz., meagre data at command, in the form of notes taken at the time; lack of details, in the form of private or other correspondence; the almost total absence of official papers or the records; the unreliability of memory to supply defects arising from this dearth of material, and the different impressions left on the minds of the various actors resulting from viewing any event from different stand-points.
On assigning this task to the writer, it is quite evident to him that but little regard has been paid to the qualities needed or the facilities furnished in order to do the subject even a measure of justice. Writing a history has been looked upon and treated the same as the writing of an ordinary newspaper paragraph, - losing sight entirely of the ability required to make up for the lack of material furnished. It should not be forgotten or overlooked that there are two very important factors required in the compilation of a history. One of them is intellectual attainments of the writer of more than the ordinary kind; the other, the means, such as official papers, records, and correspondence. Unfortunately for the success of this work, both of these are lacking. Hence it follows the reader should be satisfied with what is offered, as it is the best that can be done; and if not done now, the probability is that it never will be attempted.
The friends of the compiler - the men who had a share in the events here narrated - will look on the work with favor, others will criticise. But to meet the latter fairly, will advise them, with the best of feeling, if they think they can do better, here is the opportunity. One strong incentive for attempting this is the probability that it may lead to something better and more worthy of the subject.