J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “John Brown”

Battle Hymn of Hatred

Music played a significant role in the War Between the States. The South had a battle song, “Dixie,” so the North wanted its own as well. In 1862, a year into the war, Julia Ward Howe came up with new lyrics to a melody that was already familiar, “John Brown’s Body.” Ironically, her husband, Dr. Samuel Howe, was a financial supporter of the raid at Harper’s Ferry, where John Brown was captured and hung for treason. Both he and his wife were staunch abolitionists.

Mrs. Howe was inspired to write “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” after visiting Washington D.C. and witnessing Union soldiers’ campfires flickering on the outskirts of town. At the time, the song was considered inspirational in its religious references.  Mrs. Howe was a member of the Unitarian Church,which is said to be more atheistic in their beliefs. This held true for Mrs. Howe as well. The strong sentiment and symbolic overtones in the lyrics she wrote are indicative of the hatred she apparently felt for Southerners in general; not just toward Confederates.

This song is commonly sung in churches and at patriotic events today. However, the problem arises when one considers the lyrics. They will find that “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is hate-filled rhetoric consisting of derogatory implications. It is no wonder that people realize the negative aspects and refuse to sing the anthem. It is interesting to note that the song is performed frequently at Southern churches within the Bible Belt. “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored” is one example of a symbolic reference – vintage representing the blood of Southern people. When a song becomes controversial, it is generally avoided, and many in the South feel this sentiment. Just as African-Americans have for centuries fought to acquire respect and equality, it seems only fair that any song deemed offensive by any group such as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” should be discontinued as well.

Happy Birthday J.E.B.

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JEB Stuart Signature.svg

Today marks the anniversary of General James Ewell Stuart, CSA. Born in 1833, J.E.B. rose to fame during the American Civil War. Because he is one of my favorite generals to serve in the War Between the States, I chose him as a main character in my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire.

J.E.B. was born in Patrick County, Virginia. After graduating from West Point, where he acquired the nickname “Beauty,” he served for the U.S. Army in Texas and Kansas, participating in the conflict of “Bleeding Kansas.” He went to Harpers Ferry, where he assisted his fellow army personnel in accosting John Brown. When the war broke out, he resigned to become an officer with the Confederacy. He immediately proved himself a worthy foe by riding around Union General George McClellan … twice.

Under the command of General Robert E. Lee, who was like a father to him, J.E.B. and his valiant cavalry fought in many battles, including the largest cavalry battle to ever take place on North American soil: the Battle of Brandy Station. He faced ridicule at Gettysburg after his cavalry showed up two days late for the battle. Still, he fought gallantly to the end, losing his life at the Battle of Yellow Tavern during the Overland Campaign in 1864.

Considered to be one of the last true cavaliers, J.E.B. was every bit a flamboyant showman, ladies’ man, and music lover, adorning himself with a red cape and ostrich plumed hat, and accompanying his cavalry with musicians. J.E.B. was truly one of the most colorful characters to participate in the Civil War. He is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

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