SOME of the best American diaries record the turbulent years of the Civil War. The voluminous journals of Gideon Welles, the terse records of Edward Bates, the witty jottings of John Hay, the dull entries of Orville Hickman Browning, the Pepysian diaries of George Templeton Strong, and the intemperate ravings of Adam Gurowski are all in print, and they provide eyewitness accounts of the Lincoln administration whose authenticity and importance are equalled by no other historical source.
Of the important Northern Civil War diaries, one has been unduly neglected -- the journals of Salmon Portland Chase, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury. Because of a dispute between literary executors, the diaries became scattered shortly after Chase's death. Some passages were published in the long, rambling Account of the Private Life and Public Services of Salmon Portland Chase ( 1874), by Robert B. Warden, and others appeared in Jacob W. Schuckers's Life and Public Services ofSalmon Portland Chase ( 1874). Both books give skimpy, inaccurate, and unannotated entries wrenched from the journals. A portion of Chase's diaries appeared, virtually without editorial comment, in the Annual Report of the American Historical Association for 1902. It, like Warden and Schuckers, has long been out of print.
For a good many years I have hoped to edit Chase's Civil War diaries, believing that the importance both of