THE preparation of this work, or rather the collection of material for it, was commenced in the autumn of 1863. While engaged in the compilation of a little book on "The Philanthropic Results of the War" for circulation abroad, in the summer of that year, the writer became so deeply impressed with the extraordinary sacrifices and devotion of loyal women, in the national cause, that he determined to make a record of them for the honor of his country. A voluminous correspondence then commenced and continued to the present time, soon demonstrated how general were the acts of patriotic devotion, and an extensive tour, undertaken the following summer, to obtain by personal observation and intercourse with these heroic women, a more clear and comprehensive idea of what they had done and were doing, only served to increase his admiration for their zeal, patience, and self-denying effort.
Meantime the war still continued, and the collisions between Grant and Lee, in the East, and Sherman and Johnston, in the South, the fierce campaign between Thomas and Hood in Tennessee, Sheridan's annihilating defeats of Early in the valley of the Shenandoah, and Wilson's magnificent expedition in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, as well as the mixed naval and military victories at Mobile and Wilmington, were fruitful in wounds, sickness, and death. Never had the gentle and patient ministrations of woman been so needful as in the last year of the war; and never had they been so abundantly bestowed, and with such zeal and self-forgetfulness.
From Andersonville, and Millen, from Charleston, and Florence, from Salisbury, and Wilmington, from Belle Isle, and Libby Prison, came also, in these later months of the war, thousands of our bravest and noblest heroes, captured by the rebels, the feeble remnant of the tens of thousands imprisoned there, a majority of whom had perished of cold, nakedness, starvation, and disease, in those charnel houses, victims of the fiendish malignity of the rebel leaders. These poor fellows, starved to the last degree of emaciation, crippled and dying from frost and gangrene, many of