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What Rows Of Steel, Julia Ward Howe Saw! Her 1861 Muse, All 75,000

Discussion in 'The Ladies Tea' started by JPK Huson 1863, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    review lincoln2.JPG
    An order forbidding ladies at the scene was largely ignored. Julia Ward Howe's impressions of McClellan's 1861 military review found expression in our most iconic, Union marching song.

    Willard's Hotel, November, 1861. Perhaps no dim and flaring lamp lit Julia Ward Howe's writing desk. It was a very posh hostelry. I've never been afflicted with writer's block but am not a writer. Accounts claim she had a bad case, tussling with lyrics to a soldiers' marching song. It was awfully early in the war, Patriotism on high broil- red, leaking in great puddles from our red, white and blue devotionals, had not reached national awareness.

    McClellan may have spent a fair bit of his tenure at war, decorating up the place ( including the men ) but he did it really well. By the time an entire army was ready to move ( somewhere, anywhere! ) nowhere could be found a more stunningly awesome, fiercely military, blue-n-brass, drilled and pressed and gigantic and inspiring a military machine. What to do with it? Well, for one thing, show it to someone.

    The Sunday, November 20, 1861 is for some reason not as well known as the 1865 review, through DC streets. It should be. Lincoln was there, for one thing. You know a fair percentage of those 70,000 were not around in 1865. The single legacy we never think of is Julia Howe Ward's enduring song, really, a legacy of what she saw that day- and what the scene evoked. We're so lucky.

    " Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
    He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
    His truth is marching on.
    "

    Julia Ward Howe's struggle to put her feelings into words ended after witnessing McClellan's review, November, 1861.

    Alfred Waud wrote this for Frank Leslie's, at the time. 75,00, or 70,00 ( found 2 different numbers, both sourced, the military source states 70,000 ) , 76 infantry regiments, 17 artillery batteries and 7 cavalry regiments gathered outside Washington, DC.

    review first waud.jpg

    It's one of the longest Waud reports I've read, sent with his illustration, but am not an historian. Just a few snips from the whole. He speaks of the Fitzhugh estate, which is a little baffling- if he's not referring to Arlington ( review was nearby ), perhaps and estate of the family's was near Arlington?

    review second.jpg

    Julia Howe Ward was there. You read accounts where women had been ordered out of the area- seems to have not just ignored but not known? Ladies galore!

    review third.jpg

    Lincoln was said to look as if he wasn't sure he wasn't sure he wished to be there, a little uncomfortable- but that may have been keeping an eye on Willie.

    Here's the part to which we may owe our lasting legacy from Julia.

    review fourth julia.jpg

    I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
    They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
    I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
    His day is marching on.

    I have read His fiery gospel writ in rows of burnished steel!
    "As ye deal with my condemners, so with you My grace shall deal!
    Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel, "
    Since God is marching on.

    He has…
    He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
    He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
    Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet!
    Our God is marching on.

    In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
    With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
    As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
    While God is marching on.

    Julia came back to Willard's Hotel, somehow unburdened herself of that song. There's so much more on the review itself; a whole ' nother thread. This is a simple one, albeit a little long. Ran into Waud's description, too, and it all made sense.

    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    His truth is marching on.


    * Read on another site Julia wrote them in 1862? Sheet music published Feb. 1862, not likely only a month for all production, publication, printing, etc.
     

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  3. NH Civil War Gal

    NH Civil War Gal Sergeant Major

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    Great post! You know, it seems like if you were anyone, North or South, you revolved through Willards Hotel.
     
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  4. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Major Forum Host

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  5. Mrs. V

    Mrs. V Sergeant

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    One of my favorite songs, and I use it at the end of my living history presentations. I usually say, “When our boys come home I am sure you will join me in singing..”
     
  6. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Right? What a crazy cool history! Read ' Reveille in Washington ' ( maybe several times ), and had had no clue Washington remained home to so many ' sesesh '. So many seem to have just stayed in place albeit with hackles raised, a few snarls and a snap now and then. I don't mean to come across poorly- you're extremely well read, but if you haven't picked that up yet, it's crazy good.

    Remember years ago, discovering my grgrgrandparents ran a ' public house ', in DC, during the war, thinking OH please please, let it be Willards! Of course it wasn't. Still, became immersed in war time DC. Like touching History- grgrandmother was born there, 1863, and Mom knew her very well. Kind of thing that gives me the good chills.
     
  7. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Thank you!! I tried to figure it out and became more lost. Sometimes I think they'd be better off just putting up a sign at the state border " Historical Site ", and be done with it.

    It's a very tough event to find material on- so appreciate it. The 1865 review is so well known, it snows searches in 2018. That's ok since it's a habit anyway, to poke around era sources but even that was sparse. Must have been quite a day and a little unbelievable to witness. GREAT article!!
     
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  8. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    OH goodness, do you? That's wonderful! I realize in 2018 we sound a little ' off ', attaching emotion to these relics from the past but this one gets to me. Marching songs evoked the energy to keep going. It was awful out there, in dirt and heat and cold and fear. None of the volunteers had seen war, most hadn't been away from home, much less shot at. It was all so serious, so swiftly. for families everywhere. This is the musical overlay.
     
  9. Mrs. V

    Mrs. V Sergeant

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    I use music a great deal in my presentation. It is what makes my interpretation different from others. Besides, music was an integral part of society then. You could buy sheet music, lyrics using popular/known melodies were published in the papers! And, I’ve read, part of the nurses duties were to entertain the soldiers at the end of the day with music...

    I use Amazing Grace, Battle Hymn, and this year I will add Johnny has gone for a Soldier. When my son worked with me, he would play Battle Cry of Freedom and a host of other songs. (He plays violin).
     
  10. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    " Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier " must drop them, too? It's not what you could call dreary, not at all, but it gets to you.
     
  11. Mrs. V

    Mrs. V Sergeant

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    Oh yeah! I started my class for facaulty with this piece. Could have heard a pin drop when I was done. It always seems to surprise people that such a big voice can come from a small woman..I’m 5’2” tall without shoes..
     
  12. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Wasn't Jenny Lind teeny? Same thing, people marveled over this great voice coming from such a petite song bird? I'm not at all familiar with opera but have this vague inkling of an era when it was thought the voice could only be carried by women with physical oomph, too? You know, our deep bosomed, legendary voices of the past. Amazing vocal gifts. Just recall for some reason the 2 had to go together.

    But do not ask me The dogs got a petition together and requested I not do it any more.
     
  13. TheFinder

    TheFinder Private

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    Thanks for this. You’re right. No one really pays attention to McClellan’s review—probably because they’re too busy being mad at him for not going anywhere. I can definitely see how it would’ve been inspiration for “Battle Hymn.”

    It’s interesting, because I always think of this when I sing/hear the song, but it’s pretty normal to change the lyrics from
    “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free”
    to
    “As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free”
    which obviously changed the meaning. It also makes some sense in that most people are singing this at church or something, and war is not an imminent threat.
     
  14. Mrs. V

    Mrs. V Sergeant

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    Lol! I used to be owned by a Siamese cat who would howl when I sang. Everyone is a critic!
     
  15. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Ha! ' mad at him for not going anywhere '! That's wonderful! Really wish it wasn't all so well, good and bad- Mac was not a lot of things ( like awfully interested in getting shot ) but he put heart into the army. Camps were still pretty bad but boy, the men were spiffy! And the men liked him, which must have helped moral post Bull Run? Not a fan myself - that has its genesis in his treatment of Scott.

    Yes, page 150, the red Lutheran hymnal! Loved it as a child, wish someone had told us they'd erased verses. In a long service ( for a kid ) it always seemed a break, isn't that awful? PK here so will be in trouble.
     
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  16. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Ha! The dogs do not howl just look very, very sad and threaten, in cooperation with the cat, to make anonymous phone calls to the Humane Society rescue services.
     
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  17. TheFinder

    TheFinder Private

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    Definitely not a fan of McClellan, but he did know how to whip an army into shape! Just couldn’t lead them out of a paper bag.

    Haha! A PK bored in church? How could you!? Totally understand that, actually. Definitely looked forward to the “fun” hymns as a kid.

    Funny story: at my church growing up, the song leader was quite vivacious, and he loved hymn history. He told us of the “die”/“live” change, and then told us to sing “die” instead of “live.” Well, most people were just reading the words, so everyone sang “live,” but the song leader sang/shouted “DIE” and drowned out everyone! It was pretty amusing.
     
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  18. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    Wonderful post!
    But I think the timing may be off. References are made to the battles of Fredericksburg and Antietam, and the man in charge (according to the article) is Gen. Hooker, not McClellan, so I'm thinking the review that Waud was writing about (as opposed to the one that inspired Julia Ward Howe) must have taken place in early 1863? If so, then the "Master Lincoln" mentioned must be Tad, not Willie?
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  19. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    Interesting because you hardly ever see that verse with the "rows of burnished steel" or hear it sung.

    Kind of like there's one verse of "Amazing Grace" that you don't hear as often as the other four.

    Makes me wonder if people just prefer songs of only 4 verses, not 5!
     
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  20. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Well, you have to admit, by verse 5, with chorus for emphasis, the most hearty songster begins shifting their weight foot to foot. Remember as a kid, some of those late Victorian hymns were just endless.
     
  21. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Oh nooooo! But but but but. Making oneself conspicuous in church? Like breaking the 11th Commandment. That really is hysterical- anyone not familiar with why this nice, helpful history buff was being so pointed may have been a tad confused.

    Poor Mac. He had a very nice wife. Wonder what would have happened if, instead of being so eager to throw Scott overboard, he'd enlisted his counsel instead?
     

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