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HE first draft of what is here offered to the read
ing public was sketched amid the whirlwinds of civil war, and while encompassed by the most exciting scenes and circumstances of violence, conspiracies, and sanguinary strife. It claims to
be, for the most part, but a plain, unvarnished story of what happened under the author's own observation, during a reign of terror which has scarcely had a parallel in the history of our race.
It is hoped the courteous reader will not mistake the production for a work of imagination, the author is free to admit, however, that, in some cases, he has used fictitious names; and, also, that the conversations, dialogues, and soliloquies introduced more or less throughout the work are, in part at least, supposed. But no further than this has he used the guise of fiction, or essayed to idealize his subject; for we have come upon times when, of a truth, it may be said that “fact is stranger than fiction." For the marvellous, the wild, the thrilling, we no longer need to draw upon fancy; reality, now, exceeds the most highly-wrought creations of imagination, transcends the most startling coinage of the brain.
While the author has been solicitous to paint vividly and lifelike, yet he must insist that his picture is by no means overdrawn, or highly colored. The incidents re