"He has gone into Pennsylvania with Gen. Lee, and he will bring back something for us."

A. Roy

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"So I walked on, looking at one and another, each lying in a different attitude, each attitude seeming to show the last thought and feeling which was in the mind of the poor fellow as he died. To us, these men are only rebels; but each of them had a home, mother, wife, children. They look out of their cabin-window, like the mother of Sisera, and say, "When will he come back?" The little children say, "When will papa come back? and what will he bring me?" The mother says, "He has gone into Pennsylvania with Gen. Lee, and he will bring back something for us." "Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey?" Poor desolated homes, South as well as North! Long will they look, and look in vain, for the return of those, dear to them as ours to us, who lie undistinguished, cumbering the bloody field."

-- Clarke, James Freeman. "After the Battle: A Visit to Gettysburg." Monthly Journal of the American Unitarian Association, Vol. 4, 1863. Page 402.


ConfedLieutFamily_UnknownPhotog_1861_1865_LOC.jpg


(Photo: Soldier with family. Identities and photographer unknown. 1861-1865. Source: Library of Congress.)

Roy B.
 
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A. Roy

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James Freeman Clarke, who wrote this essay, "After the Battle: A Visit to Gettysburg," was by some accounts the person who prodded Julia Ward Howe to write the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" to the same tune as "John Brown's Body."

Returning from a review of troops near Washington, her carriage was surrounded and delayed by the marching regiments: she and her companions sang, to beguile the tedium of the way, the war songs which every one was singing in those days; among them –

"John Brown's body lies a-moulding in the grave.
His soul is marching on!"

The soldiers liked this, cried, "Good for you!" and took up the chorus with its rhythmic swing.

"Mrs. Howe," said Mr. [James Freeman] Clarke, "why do you not write some good words for that stirring tune?"

"I have often wished to do so!" she replied.

Waking in the gray of the next morning, as she lay waiting for the dawn, the word came to her.

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord – "

She lay perfectly still. Line by line, stanza by stanza, the words came sweeping on with the rhythm of marching feet, pauseless, resistless. She saw the long lines swinging into place before her eyes, heard the voice of the nation speaking through her lips. She waited till the voice was silent, till the last line was ended; then sprang from bed, and groping for pen and paper, scrawled in the gray twilight the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." She was used to writing thus; verses often came to her at night, and must be scribbled in the dark for fear of waking the baby; she crept back to bed, and as she fell asleep she said to herself, "I like this better than most things I have written." In the morning, while recalling the incident, she found she had forgotten the words.

The poem was published in the "Atlantic Monthly" for February, 1862. "It was somewhat praised," she says, "on its appearance, but the vicissitudes of the war so engrossed public attention that small heed was taken of literary matters.... I knew and was content to know, that the poem soon found its way to the camps, as I heard from time to time of its being sung in chorus by the soldiers."

She did not, however, realize how rapidly the hymn made its way, nor how strong a hold it took upon the people. It was "sung, chanted, recited, and used in exhortation and prayer on the eve of battle." It was printed in newspapers, in army hymn-books, on broadsides; it was the word of the hour, and the Union armies marched to its swing.


JuliaWardHowe1861_RichardsBook1915_P186.png

(Text and photo: Richards, Laura E. Julia Ward Howe: 1819-1910. Vol 1., Chapter 8. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1915. Pages 187-188.)

Roy B.
 

Mrs. V

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James Freeman Clarke, who wrote this essay, "After the Battle: A Visit to Gettysburg," was by some accounts the person who prodded Julia Ward Howe to write the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" to the same tune as "John Brown's Body."

Returning from a review of troops near Washington, her carriage was surrounded and delayed by the marching regiments: she and her companions sang, to beguile the tedium of the way, the war songs which every one was singing in those days; among them –

"John Brown's body lies a-moulding in the grave.
His soul is marching on!"

The soldiers liked this, cried, "Good for you!" and took up the chorus with its rhythmic swing.

"Mrs. Howe," said Mr. [James Freeman] Clarke, "why do you not write some good words for that stirring tune?"

"I have often wished to do so!" she replied.

Waking in the gray of the next morning, as she lay waiting for the dawn, the word came to her.

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord – "

She lay perfectly still. Line by line, stanza by stanza, the words came sweeping on with the rhythm of marching feet, pauseless, resistless. She saw the long lines swinging into place before her eyes, heard the voice of the nation speaking through her lips. She waited till the voice was silent, till the last line was ended; then sprang from bed, and groping for pen and paper, scrawled in the gray twilight the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." She was used to writing thus; verses often came to her at night, and must be scribbled in the dark for fear of waking the baby; she crept back to bed, and as she fell asleep she said to herself, "I like this better than most things I have written." In the morning, while recalling the incident, she found she had forgotten the words.

The poem was published in the "Atlantic Monthly" for February, 1862. "It was somewhat praised," she says, "on its appearance, but the vicissitudes of the war so engrossed public attention that small heed was taken of literary matters.... I knew and was content to know, that the poem soon found its way to the camps, as I heard from time to time of its being sung in chorus by the soldiers."

She did not, however, realize how rapidly the hymn made its way, nor how strong a hold it took upon the people. It was "sung, chanted, recited, and used in exhortation and prayer on the eve of battle." It was printed in newspapers, in army hymn-books, on broadsides; it was the word of the hour, and the Union armies marched to its swing.



(Text and photo: Richards, Laura E. Julia Ward Howe: 1819-1910. Vol 1., Chapter 8. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1915. Pages 187-188.)

Roy B.
I love this piece and often sing it in my Living History presentations. Every once is a blue moon we get to sing it in Church. It still stirs my soul, each and every time I sing it.
 
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