I am not writing the story of my life for scholars. I can make no claims to scholarship myself. I am writing for my friends, for those I lived among, worked for, and learned to love — and who loved me.
I write now for I shall soon be an old man. I do not feel it; on the contrary, I can truly say I feel more in sympathy with all people round me, I understand them better, I can more readily put myself in their places, than I did when I, too, marched with the Column in the strenuous years that are past.
Still the young fellows now call me Sir! and that very plainly indicates they think I am growing old. So I shall take the hint and begin to write my biography before I grow any older.
I write it because I have a story to tell. I have been a very fortunate man. I have lived in great times. I have had a very interesting life. I have seen more of the world than have most men. I have done things I am sorry for and things I am proud of. I can say, I think with truth, that I have tried to serve my fellow men; and the older I grow, and the more I have seen of all sorts and conditions of men, the more profoundly I believe that they are worth serving. That is another reason.
Then for a third reason, I want to write. I have a profound dislike for biographies as they are poured forth on us to-day. Most of them have little value and some of them have no excuse. They are poor, sloppy stuff, and mislead those who take the trouble to wade through them. They say too much and too little. They are not true pictures of life. The men whose life stories they profess to tell would have repudiated them.