The production of this little work has long been contemplated. It has seemed right that the records of some of the volunteer organizations sent from Canastota and vicinity, during the War of the Rebellion, should be recorded in such a form as would preserve to the families of those boys, their deeds in marching, in fighting, in suffering for the old flag. In an effort to accomplish such an undertaking as this, the patronage of the general public is not considered. The book, if requiting for the expense of publication, will be considered a success financially.
As a literary effort, no claim is filed, unless one is admissible for general accuracy in the matter of events and dates. Some critics may take exception to the attempt herein made, to individualize a collective noun and yet retain plurality; and in the same measure, pervert mood and tense. It is admitted that the license is unique. Quite likely other departures from good old grammatical paths will be noted. Let it be remembered, however, that the experiences of Co. G were, as a whole, unique, and to harmonize the literal with the actual, the record should be drawn uniquely.
No apology is offered for trivial treatment of some of the subjects; in truth, they are deserving of severe handling. If lack of respect for commanding officers is shown, the explanation given is, that they have been removed from the high pedestals of war-gods and are considered only as men.
It is in no bitter sense the men who fought Co. G are termed rebels. They were in rebellion and were known to the boys as rebels, or johnny rebs. A false delicacy only would prompt the writer to deprive those Southern men of a title which, apparently, they bore with pride.
As stated, this is not a work for the public eye. It is an offering to comrades, from a comrade who marched with them, and experienced with them the fortunes and misfortunes of war. And in performing this work, care has been taken to omit such occurrences as might not be understood by others than the actors; and while thus avoiding over-coloring by a faithful portraiture of events, and suppressing nothing worthy of record Co. G go into history.
In performing this duty, individual names have been used, illustrative of passing events. Should any person feel aggrieved over such freedom, let it be known, it was, indeed, born of familiarity with the subjects, and is indulged in a spirit of good comradeship, without thought of disparagement.
No man who marched with those boys can think of them unkindly. If there were ever differences of a serious nature, the writer is unmindful of them.
To travel over the old roads, to hunger and to thirst again; to sleep where night found them; in sunshine, in storm out on the picket-line; to toss upon a bed of suffering and weaken, day by day, for lack of tender care;—in brief, to march away to the wars and enjoy the rich compensation of an honorable return, all this and more, has been lived again while preparing this record. And so with the old boys, as long as they live, will they by this effort be enabled to travel Virginia roads in all kinds of weather, without danger of sticking fast in the mud, or of being stifled amid clouds of gray dust.
Why Co. G did not cut a broader swath along the pathway of glorious attainment, they cannot understand. They were a willing body of men, and were of a regiment of noble hearts. Misfortunes of war, simply, were not the only elements at work defeating their best endeavors. The true causes can be learned, only, in a huge compendium of tragical, whimsical and amusing facts, concealed within the folios of that unwritten or mythical history of the war, which never will be published, a history that would tumble war-idols to the ground, and elevate men who have passed into obscurity.
But Co. G have never permitted their escutcheon to lie prone in the dust, that they might more readily engage in wrangling over such small matters as position and preference. They do not grumble, they do not boast. They learned, thirty-five years ago, to accept the inevitable, which has been awarded to them in large quantities.
Co. G were boys of Lenox, who served in the name of Lenox. They belonged, then to Lenox, as her offering in the war, and their record is a part of the history of the town. Divested of verbiage, their deeds will still be found honorable and manly. For, as once said the lamented Capt. Frank, Co. G did "as well as any of them."
A few words should be given in memory of the dead, who, in life, stood shoulder to shoulder with the boys of Co. G Dead?—a word applied to express a religious belief; but how inexpressive of a new-birth.
"Death is but another name for change.
The weary shuffle off their mortal coil,
And think to slumber in eternal night.
But, lo! the man, tho' dead is living still;
Unclothed, is clothed upon, and his Mortality
Is swallowed up of Life."
Thus sang an inspired woman, and thus shall it be said of the boys who gave their lives for the flag, and for their comrades who shall follow them. And some day, upon the great plain of Light, the hosts will once more marshal for a grand review.
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