Page images


The printed porn elittel Three Shundred Thanking Mure?"

which has been copred this Mary



of our guèruals kaily of ovelly as the producleus of Wc C. Byaub H & nd from his fren bel from that of Jamed S. Ribbene of the city.


heated stanzas of "My Maryland." Another college song, if the digression may be pardoned, the "Upidee-Upida," to which we so wickedly sing the quatrains of Longfellow's "Excelsior," I have heard rising sonorously from the throats of a stalwart regiment of German Landwehr in the summer of 1870, as they were on their way to the French frontier and to Paris.

Although they came at the beginning of the war, "John Brown's Body" and the "Battle Cry of Freedom" have been sung scarcely more often than "Marching through Georgia," which could not have come into being until near the end of the fight. Now that the war has been over for twenty years and more, and the veteran has no military duty more harassing than fighting his battles o'er, "Marching through Georgia" has become the song dearest to his heart. The swinging rhythm of the tune and the homely directness of the words gave the song an instant popularity, increased by the fact that it commemorated the most striking episode of the war, the march to the sea. "Marching through Georgia" was written and composed by the late Henry C. Work. In his history of "Music in America," Professor Ritter refers to Stephen C. Foster, the composer of "Old Folks at Home," as one who "said naïvely and gently what he had to

say, without false pretension or bombastic phrases"; and this praise may be applied also to Work, who had not a little of the folk-flavor which gives quality to Foster. Like Foster, Work was fond of reflecting the rude negro rhythms; and some of his best songs seem like actual echoes from the cotton-field and levee. "Wake, Nicodemus," "Kingdom Coming," and "Babylon is Fallen" have this savor of the soil,- sophisticated, it may be, and yet pungent and captivating. I have heard it suggested that " Marching through Georgia was founded on a negro air, and also that it is a reminiscence of a bit of the "Rataplan" of the " Huguenots." It is possible that there is a little truth at the bottom of both of these stories. The "Huguenots" was freqently performed at the New Orleans Opera House before the war, and many a slave must have heard his young mistress singing and playing selections from Meyerbeer's music; and it may be that Work, in turn, overheard some negro's rambling recollection of the "Rataplan." This is idle conjecture, however; the tune of " Marching through Georgia" is fresh and spirited; and it bids fair-with "John Brown's Body"- to be the chief musical legacy of the war. Work was also the author and composer of two other songs which had their day, "Drafted into the Army" and

Three hundred thousand more

We are coming Father Abraam three hundred thousand more, From Mipipithis Shears hoped were children dear, winding stream and from New England's shore;


With hearts too fill for utterance, with but a silent tear; We dare not look whind us, but steadfastly befores coming Father Abraom three hundred thousand more!

We are

If you look
acros the hill tops that meet the northem sky,
And moving lines If using dust your



may desery: instant teard the cloudy veil aside, And floats aloft our spangled flag, in glory and in pride; And bayonets in the sunlight gleams, and bands have music pour Father Abrams three hundred thous and more! coming

We are

[ocr errors]

If you look all ups om calleys where the growing harvestor shine,
You may
stundy farmer boys fast forming into line;
And children from their mothers knees are fulting at the weeds,
And learning how to reap and sou, against their country's needs,
And a farewell group Fonds weeping at every cottage doo -

We are

Fathur Abraain three hundred thousand more!

You have called us and we're coming, by Richmond's Hoody tide, to lay us down for freedom's sake,

our brothers bones beside;

Or from foul treason's
sowage grasp to wrench the murderous blade,
And in the face of foreign for its fragments to parade.
Six him and thoms and loyal,

men and true have

gone beforeWe are coming bathin Alaam thre. hindered thousand more!

[ocr errors]

"Brave Boys are They." The latter has had the honor of being sung of late by Mr. Cable, who heard first at a Southern camp-fire from the lips of a comrade the chorus of Northern origin, equally apt in its application in those troublous times to the homes on either side of Mason and Dixon's line:

"Brave boys are they,

Gone at their country's call; And yet and yet we cannot forget That many brave boys must fall."

It was in the dark days of 1862, just after Lincoln had issued the proclamation asking for three hundred thousand volunteers to fill up the stricken ranks of the army and to carry out the cry which urged it "On to Richmond," that Mr. John S. Gibbons wrote

"We are coming, Father Abraham,
Three hundred thousand more,"

a lyric which contributed not a little to the bringing about of the uprising it declared. The author of this ringing call to arms was a Hicksite Quaker,-"with a reasonable leaning, however, toward wrath in cases of emergency," as his son-in-law, Mr. James H. Morse, neatly puts it, in a recent letter to me. He joined the abolition movement in 1830, when he was barely twenty years old. Three years later he married a daughter of Isaac T. Hopper, the Quaker philanthropist. For a short time he was one of the editors of the "Anti-Slavery Standard," and, like many of the Quakers of his school, he was always ardent in the cause of negro freedom. At the outbreak of the war, Mrs. Gibbons and her eldest daughter went to the front, and they served in the hospitals until the end. While they were away the riots of '63 occurred, and their house in New York was sacked, Mr. Gibbons and the two younger daughters taking refuge with relatives in the house next door but one, and thence over the roofs to Eighth Avenue, where Mr. Joseph H. Choate had a carriage in waiting for them. The house was singled out for this attention because it had been illuminated when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued,- on which occasion it had been daubed and defiled with coal tar.

At the request of Mr. Morse, Mr. Gibbons has put on paper an account of the circumstances under which he wrote "We are coming, Father Abraham," and from this I am privileged to quote. It must be premised that Mr. Gibbons, although he had written verseas who has not? was best known as a writer on financial topics: he has published two books about banking, and he was for a while the financial editor of the "Evening Post." In

1862, after Lincoln had issued his call for volunteers, Mr. Gibbons used to take long walks alone, often talking to himself. "I began to con over a song," he writes. "The words seemed to fall into ranks and files, and to come with a measured step. Directly would come along a company of soldiers with fife and drum, and that helped the matter amazingly. I began to keep step myself -three hun-dred thou-sand more. It was very natural to answer the President's call we are coming and to prefix the term father. Then the line would follow

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

"And so it went on, word by word, line by line, until the whole song was made." When it was written, only one slight verbal alteration was made, and then it was printed in the "Evening Post " of July 16th, 1862. It is interesting to note that it was in the “Evening Post" of May 29th, 1819, nearly half a century before, that another famous patriotic poem had first been published — Drake's “American Flag." Mr. Gibbons's song appeared anonymously, and its authorship was ascribed at once to Bryant, who was then the editor of the "Evening Post." At a large meeting in Boston, held the evening after it had appeared, it was read by Josiah Quincy as "the latest poem written by Mr. Wm. C. Bryant."

[ocr errors]

One of the Hutchinson family set it to music, and they sang it with great effect. A common friend told Jesse Hutchinson that the song was not by Bryant but by Mr. Gibbons. "What our old friend Gibbons ?" he asked in reply. It is said that when assured that his old friend Gibbons was the real author of the song, Jesse Hutchinson hesitated thoughtfully for a moment and then said, "Well, we'll keep the name of Bryant as we've got it. He's better known than Gibbons." The stirring song was

set to music by several other composers, most of whom probably supposed that it was Bryant's. I find in a stray newspaper cutting an account of Lincoln's coming down to the Red Room of the White House one morning in the summer of 1864, to listen with bowed head and patient pensive eyes while one of a party of visitors sang

of the war tunes which have survived the welter and turmoil of the actual strife; but the occasion was not improved. Little more has been done than a chance arrangement of airs in the clap-trap manner of Jullien's "British Army Quadrilles." The "Centennial March" which Richard Wagner wrote for us was the work of a master, no doubt, but it was perfunctory, and hopelessly inferior to his resplen

"We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred dent "Kaiser March." The German composer thousand more.'

A rattling good war song which has kept its hold on the ears of the people is "When Johnny comes Marching Home," written in 1863 by "Louis Lambert." Behind this pseudonym was hidden Mr. P. S. Gilmore, the projector of the Boston "Peace Jubilee," and the composer afterward of a more ambitious national hymn, which has hitherto failed to attain the popularity of its unpretending predecessor with the rousing refrain. It is related that after the performance of "Glory to God on High," from Mozart's Twelfth Mass, on the first day of the Jubilee, an old soldier of the Webster regiment took occasion to shake hands with Mr. Gilmore and to proffer his congratulations on the success of the undertaking, adding that for his part what he had liked best was the piece called the "Twelfth Massachusetts."

At the Boston Peace Jubilee, and again at the Centennial Exhibition, there was opportunity for the adequate and serious treatment

had not touch of the American people, and as he did not know what was in our hearts, we had no right to hope that he should give it expression. The time is now ripe for the musician who shall richly and amply develop, with sustained and sonorous dignity, the few simple airs which represent and recall to the people of these United States the emotions, the doubts, the dangers, the joys, the sorrows, the harassing anxieties, and the final triumph of the four long years of bitter strife. The composer who will take "John Brown's Body" and "Marching through Georgia," and such other of our war tunes as may be found worthy, and who shall do unto them as the still living Hungarian and Scandinavian composers have done to the folk-songs of their native land, need not hesitate from poverty of material or from fear of the lack of a responsive audience. The first American composer who shall turn these war tunes into mighty music to commemorate the events which called them forth, will of a certainty have his reward. Brander Matthews.


[At the request of the Editor, Mrs. Howe has prepared the subjoined account of the circumstances attending the origin of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."]

IN December, 1861, the first year of our Civil War, I made a journey to Washington in company with Dr. Howe, Governor and Mrs. John A. Andrew, and other friends. I remember well the aspect of things within what might then have been termed "the debatable land." As our train sped on through the darkness, we saw in vivid contrast the fires of the pickets set to guard the line of the railroad. The troops lay encamped around the city, their cantonments extending to a considerable distance. At the hotel, officers and their orderlies were conspicuous, and army ambulances were constantly arriving and departing. The gallop of horsemen, the tramp of footsoldiers, the noise of drum, fife, and bugle, were heard continually. The two great powers were holding each other in check, and the very air seemed tense with expectancy. Bull Run had shown the North that any victory it might hope to achieve would be neither swift nor easy. The Southern leaders, on the other hand, had already learned something of the determined temper and persistent resolve of those with whom they had to cope.

The one absorbing thought in Washington was the army, and the time of visitors like ourselves was VOL. XXXIV.-87.

mostly employed in visits to the camps and hospitals. Such preaching as we heard was either to the soldiers or about them and the issues of the war. Such prayers as were made were uttered in stress and agony of spirit, for the war itself was a dread sorrow to us.

It happened one day that, in company with some friends, among whom was the Rev. James Freeman Clarke, I attended a review of our troops, at a distance of several miles from the city. The manœuvres were interrupted by a sudden attack of the enemy, and instead of the spectacle promised us, we saw some reënforcements gallop hastily to the aid of a small force of our own, which had been surprised and surrounded.

Our return to the city was impeded by the homeward marching of the troops, who nearly filled the highway. Our progress was therefore very slow and to beguile the time, we began to sing army songs, among which the John Brown song soon came to mind. Some one remarked upon the excellence of the tune, and I said that I had often wished to write some words which might be sung to it. We sang, however, the words which were already well known as belonging to it, and our singing seemed to please the soldiers, who surrounded us like a river, and who themselves took up the strain, in the intervals crying to us: "Good for you."

I slept as usual that night, but awoke before dawn the next morning, and soon found myself trying to

weave together certain lines which, though not entirely suited to the John Brown music, were yet capable of being sung to it. I lay still in the dark room, line after line shaping itself in my mind, and verse after verse. When I had thought out the last of these, I felt that I must make an effort to place them beyond the danger of being effaced by a morning nap. I sprang out of bed and groped about in the dim twilight to find a bit of paper and the stump of a pen which I remembered to have had the evening before. Having found these articles, and having long been accustomed to scribble with scarcely any sight of what I might write in a room made dark for the repose of my infant children, I began to write the lines of my poem in like manner. (I was always careful to decipher these lines within twenty-four hours, as I had found them perfectly illegible after a longer period.) On the occasion now spoken of, I completed my writing, went back to bed, and fell fast asleep.

A day or two later, I repeated my verses to Mr. Clarke, who was much pleased with them. Soon after my return to Boston, I carried the lines to James T. Fields, at that time Editor of the "Atlantic Monthly." The title, "Battle Hymn of the Republic," was of his devising. The poem was published soon after in the magazine, and did not at first receive any especial mention. We were all too much absorbed in watching the progress of the war to give much heed to a copy of verses more or less. I think it may have been a year later that my lines, in some shape, found their way into a Southern prison in which a number of our soldiers were confined. An army chaplain who had been imprisoned with them came to Washington soon after

his release, and in a speech or lecture of some sort, described the singing of the hymn by himself and his companions in that dismal place of confinement. People now began to ask who had written the hymn, and the author's name was easily established by a reference to the magazine. The battle hymn was often sung in the course of the war, and under a great variety of circumstances. Among other anecdotes, I have heard of its having once led a “forlorn hope" through a desperate encounter to a successful issue. The wild echoes of the fearful struggle have long since died away, and with them all memories of unkindness between ourselves and our Southern brethren. But those who once loved my hymn still sing it. In many a distant Northern town where I have stood to speak, the song has been sung by the choir of some one of the churches before or after my lecture. I could hardly believe my ears when, at an entertainment at Baton Rouge which I shared with other officers of the New Orleans Exposition, the band broke bravely into the John Brown tune. It was scarcely less surprising for me to hear my verses sung at the exposition by the colored people who had invited me to speak to them in their own department. A printed copy of the words and music was once sent me from Constantinople, by whom, I never knew. But when I visited Koberts College, in the neighborhood of that city, the good professors and their ladies at parting asked me to listen well to what I might hear on my way down the steep declivity. I did so, and heard, in sweet, full cadence, the lines which scarcely seem mine, so much are they the breath of that heroic time, and of the feeling with which it was filled. Julia Ward Howe.



An Urgent Measure of National Defense. SIDE from the construction of ships and fortifications, to which there is reason to believe that the next Congress will give serious attention, the most pressing question of national defense relates to the naval personnel. Not that our officers and blue-jackets are of inferior quality: far from it. Given the materials necessary for training in modern war, and our naval force, as far as it goes, will challenge comparison with any of its rivals. The difficulty is not that it is inefficient, but that it is insufficient. It is a mere nucleus, a navy on a peace footing. Alike in the Revolution, when our enemy had a powerful navy, and in the Civil War, when he had no navy at all, the Government felt from the outset to the close the urgent want of a large body of trained man-o'-war's-men. Men were gradually enlisted, but the absence of a previous enrollment made it difficult and expensive to get them, and the absence of a previous training deferred the period of their efficiency until long after they were got.

In accordance with that sound maxim of American policy which forbids the maintenance of a large stand

ing force, our regular army will probably never exceed twenty or thirty thousand men, and our regular navy ten or twelve thousand. But the army makes up for its small size by an ample reserve, composed of a wellorganized, well-equipped, and well-trained militia. If a war should break out to-morrow, it would be easy to put into the field, in the course of a fortnight, from fifty to one hundred thousand men, officered, armed, and, to some extent, trained for war. They would be raw troops, no doubt, but they would still be troops: all the preliminary work- the enrollment, by which the Government could lay hands on them immediately, the arrangement in working organizations, the elementary training-would have been provided for beforehand, and when the crisis came, would be an accomplished fact.

The navy, on the other hand, upon which the country must place its first reliance for defence, whose forces are always scattered, and whose statutory number, of seven thousand five hundred seamen, falls short of actual peace requirements, is absolutely without a provision for enlargement. In our population of sixty millions there is not a single individual known to the

« PreviousContinue »