Battle Hymn of the Republic

John Brown believed he could free the slaves, and in 1859, with a small band of dedicated men, raided the arsenal at Harpers Ferry to gain weapons and supplies to help the effort.  Thirty-six hours after the raid began, most of the men were wounded or killed, and John Brown was captured.  Abolitionist Brown was brought to trial, tried and convicted of treason, conspiring with slaves to rebel, and murder.  He was hanged on December 2, 1859.

A popular Methodist camp meeting song of the time, written by Wiliam Steffe, began with the words:
Say brothers, will you meet us?  (3X) On Canaan’s happy shore?
Glory, glory hallelujah!  (3X) For ever, evermore!

After the Harpers Ferry incident, many considered John Brown a martyr, and added new verses:
John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave, (3X)  His soul is marching on!

During the Civil War, “John Brown’s Body” was a very popular marching song with Union Army. The Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment, in particular, spread the song’s fame on their march to the SouthAt Antietam, the regiment lost 224 of 334 men, the highest percentage casualty rate of any Union regiment in the battle.

Julia Ward Howe and her husband, both of whom were active abolitionists, observed a skirmish between Confederate and Union troops near Washington, D.C, and heard the troops go into battle singing “John Brown’s Body.”  Later that evening, November 18, 1861, a pastor friend  encouraged Ward to write a poem more appropriate to the war effort, to be used with the stirring tune. Her words began “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” The Atlantic Monthly  paid her four dollars for her poem, and published it in February, 1862, when it became the song we know as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” It was popular through the remainder of the Civil War, has encouraged American soldiers and civil-rights activists, and continues to inspire us today.
Battle_Hymn_of_the_Republic

 

Advertisements

One thought on “Battle Hymn of the Republic

  1. Great post of an American hero story, Gail. Love singing this one; here’s where bass and baritone carry the day. : )

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s