"Yankee Doodle" Saves the Day

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John Hartwell

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Poet Walt Whitman spent most of the war years as a volunteer in army hospitals in and around Washington. All that time he kept notebooks, jotting down notes on the many hundreds of sick and wounded soldiers he helped. Often he gave their names, regiments, and home towns, details of their injuries, their background stories, etc. In the North American Review, vol. 144 (1887), he published an article containing "Some War Memoranda -- Jotted Down at the Time."

I find this incident in my notes (I suppose from "chinning" in hospital with some sick or wounded soldier who knew of it):
When Kilpatrick and his forces were cut off at Brandy Station (last of September, '63, or thereabouts), and the bands struck up "Yankee Doodle" there were not cannon enough in the Southern Confederacy to keep him and them "in." It was when Meade fell back. K. had his cavalry division (perhaps 5,000 men), and the rebs, in superior force, had surrounded them. Things looked exceedingly desperate. K. had two fine bands, and ordered them up immediately; they joined and played "Yankee Doodle" with a will. It went through the men like lightning — but to inspire, not to unnerve. Every man seemed a giant. They charged like a cyclone, and cut their way out. Their loss was but 20. It was about two in the afternoon.

No idea if that's true or not. Maybe some soldier was telling Walt a tall tale -- or, maybe Walt was stretching things a bit himself. Has anyone familiar with Brandy Station heard anything similar?
 
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Cavalry Charger

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Do you know, I have a tendency to believe this story. Simply because I know what a powerful affect music can have on people.

It is remarkable indeed and unless it's in a soldier's diary or letters, I doubt it would be in any OR. Maybe somebody knows ...
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Think I'm with Cavalry Charger, would have to believe it, or a version of it. It's not just the music portion which rings true. We see a LOT more literary fluff attached to stories like this, in general? It's a pretty stark report devoid of words like ' gallant ' and ' heroic ', ' patriotic ', etc. We might know ' K ' was a.. well... a toolbag dressed up but Whitman didn't comment either way. ' Charge like a cyclone ' isn't even unnecessary garnish, seems descriptive of what ( may have ) happened?

Brandy Station scholar would know where 'K' was and when. The 2 p.m. thing sure breaks it down.
 
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