[With few exceptionsMelville published five of his Battle-Pieces poems in Harper’s Monthly Magazine between February and July 1866: “The March to the Sea” (February); “The Cumberland” (March); “Philip” (April, later titled “Sheridan at Cedar Creek”); “Chattanooga” (June), and “Gettysburg” (July.) See NN Published Poems, 531., the Pieces
"Piece" may refer to any written, musical, artistic, or published work; it is also a common military term for cannon or firearm.
in this volume originated in an impulse imparted by the fall of Richmond.Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America... They were composed without reference to collective arrangement, but, being brought together in review, naturally fall into the order assumed.
The events and incidents of the conflict—making up a whole, in varied amplitude, corresponding with the geographical area covered by the war—from these but a few themes have been taken, such as for any cause chanced to imprint themselves upon the mind.
The full title of Melville's volume of Civil War poems is Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War, with the "and" indicating that "Aspects of the War" is a continuation of the main title, not a sub-title. In today's common usage, we take "aspect" to indicate a characteristic or feature of something, as in the "tragic aspect of war," and to some extent that connotation applies to Melville's title. But "aspect" is also an aesthetic term for "perspective" or "point of view," suggesting that one's view of the war might vary depending upon one's "angle of vision" or "aspect" of the subject. which the strife as a memory assumes are as manifold as are the moods of involuntary meditation—moods variable, and at times widely at variance. Yielding instinctively, one after another, to feelings not inspired from any one source exclusively, and unmindful, without purposing to be, of consistency, I seem, in most of these verses, to have but placed a harp in a window
An aeolian harp is a zither-like, stringed instrument with sounding box (from ancient to modern times), which when placed outdoors or in a window, like wind-chimes, converts natural breezes into random musical notes. According to family correspondence, the Melvilles included an aeolian harp in their home. A frequent subject for Romantic poets and composers (notably Coleridge and Chopin), it is featured in Melville's "The Aeolian Harp at the Surf Inn" in John Marr., and noted the contrasted airs which wayward winds have played upon the strings.]