Printable Version

Battle Hymn of the Republic
Digital History ID 753

Author:   Julia Ward Howe and Thomas Chalmers
Date:1862

Annotation: This hymn was written dur­ing the Amer­i­can ci­vil war, when Julia Howe vis­it­ed a Un­ion Ar­my camp on the Po­to­mac Riv­er near Wash­ing­ton, D. C. She heard the sol­diers sing­ing the song “John Brown’s Body,” and was tak­en with the strong march­ing beat. She wrote the words the next day:

I awoke in the grey of the morn­ing, and as I lay wait­ing for dawn, the long lines of the de­sired po­em be­gan to en­twine them­selves in my mind, and I said to my­self, “I must get up and write these vers­es, lest I fall asleep and for­get them!” So I sprang out of bed and in the dim­ness found an old stump of a pen, which I re­mem­bered us­ing the day be­fore. I scrawled the vers­es al­most with­out look­ing at the p­aper.

The hymn ap­peared in the At­lant­ic Month­ly in 1862. It was sung at the fun­er­als of Brit­ish states­man Win­ston Church­ill, Amer­i­can sen­at­or Ro­bert Ken­ne­dy, and Am­er­i­can pre­si­dents Ron­ald Rea­gan and Ri­chard Nix­on.


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