Civil War Music: The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Julia Ward Howe’s song, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is the most strongly identified song of the Union cause; and is still sung in schools and churches across the nation.

Julia Ward Howe was touring Union army camps near Washington, D.C. in November 1861. She was accompanied by Reverend Clark and her husband Dr. Samuel Gridley. During the course of their visit, the group began to sing some of the currently popular war songs, among them “John Brown’s Body.” Reverend Clark suggested that Mrs. Howe should write new lyrics to that familiar tune.

The following morning, Mrs. Howe woke up and wrote the lyrics. They were ‘flowing’ from her mind. The lyrics were first seen on the front page of the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. After the war, Mrs. Howe was active in the women’s suffrage movement. In 1868, she founded the New England Women’s Club and was one of the founders of the New England Women’s Suffrage Association. She was much in demand as a lecturer. Although she continued her writing, nothing she produced ever achieved the popularity of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Source: Civil War Music: The Battle Hymn of the Republic
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