The Battle Cry of Freedom Was One of the Civil War’s Most Popular Songs

Composer George Frederick Root wrote many popular Civil War songs, including The Vacant Chair and Just Before the Battle, Mother.  Both of those are sentimental pieces, but Root’s most famous contribution to Civil War music is a more rousing tune, The Battle Cry of Freedom.

Root wrote The Battle Cry of Freedom in July of 1862. At that time, President Abraham Lincoln called for 300,000 more volunteers for the army and navy. Morale in the north was low following the Union Army’s defeat in the Peninsula Campaign. The song was an immediate hit with both the soldiers and the civilian population, and became an anthem for the Union cause on a par with The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Printing presses could not keep up with the demand for the sheet music; estimates of sales range from 500,000-750,000 copies over the course of the war.  There was even a southern adaptation of the song, with changes in the lyrics, of course.

The song is still popular today and is heard on TV shows and movies about the war, at reenactment events, and at just about anything else having to do with the Civil War.

Yes we’ll rally round the flag, boys, we’ll rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
We will rally from the hillside, we’ll gather from the plain,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!

Chorus:
The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor, up with the star;
While we rally round the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!

We are springing to the call of our brothers gone before,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And we’ll fill our vacant ranks with a million freemen more,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
(Chorus)

We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And although they may be poor, not a man shall be a slave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
(Chorus)

So we’re springing to the call from the East and from the West,
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom;
And we’ll hurl the rebel crew from the land that we love best,
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom.
(Chorus)

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