The Enduring Might of Melody and Verse: Songs of Victory!

In our final post examining music inspired by the battle of Gettysburg, we have three songs about the Union victory: Gettysburg!, The Heroes of Gettysburg, and George Meade: The Hero of Gettysburg.

Gettysburg!

Sheet music for Gettysburg

Gettysburg! (Library of Congress)

Another song commemorating the Union victory at Gettysburg is Alfred Delaney’s 1863 composition, Gettysburg! The exuberant song celebrates in a taunting manner how the Southern army was bested at Gettysburg through seven whole verses!

  1. The boldest and the bloodiest raid
    The Southern Legions ever made,
    Was when their countless thousands strayed
    To Gettysburg!Laden with spoils upon each back,
    A wolf-like and ferocious pack,
    How few e’er found the homeward track
    From Gettysburg!
  1. Exultant with their bold career,
    And flushed and gay with goodly cheer,
    They rushed, with little thought of fear,
    To Gettysburg!But there they met upon the path
    The lion North inflamed with wrath,
    And roused for Liberty or Death
    At Gettysburg!
  1. On! As a mighty throng they came;
    On! Like a hurricane of flame,
    To conquer or to fly in shame,
    From Gettysburg!Horsemen and foot of all degrees,
    Of Southern hives and haunts the lees,
    They came, our Northern homes to seize,
    At Gettysburg!
  1. Fearful and bloody was the shock,
    A whirlwind battling ‘gainst a rock,
    And human life an empty mock
    At Gettysburg!Thousands on thousands fought and fell,
    And many a wild and fearful yell
    Rose o’er that fratricidal hell,
    At Gettysburg!
  1. Yes ‘twas a fierce and bloody fray,
    A glorious yet a gory day
    The dead in dread confusion lay
    At Gettysburg!
    On like an avalanche they came!
    The low in birth, the high in fame,
    The champions of a cause of shame
    At Gettysburg!
  1. But when the fearful strife was o’er
    And night and silence reigned once more
    UP WENT THE OLD FLAG AS OF YORE,
    At Gettysburg!
    And while it streams upon the air,
    Oh! Let no human heart despair,
    For God was surely with us there,
    At Gettysburg!
  1. And Waterloo itself shall fade,
    Before the nobler, mightier deed,
    The victory achieved by Meade,
    At Gettysburg!
    The lion conquered in his lair,
    The Braggart flying in despair,
    God help the souls that perished there,
    At Gettysburg!

The Heroes of Gettysburg

Heroes of Gettysburg

The Heroes of Gettysburg (Library of Congress)

Dedicated to the friends of the heroes who fell in the battle at Gettysburg, The Heroes of Gettysburg was composed by James A. Scott and Max J. Coble in 1864.  The song touts Gettysburg as holy ground, and urges all who come to Gettysburg to honor the sacrifices of the soldiers that fought and died here.

  1. From the bloody Rappahannock,
    Where in myriads lie!
    Whose who perished for the nation,
    That it might not die!
    Came our glorious patriot army,
    Once again to meet,
    Traitor hordes in shock of battle,
    And their hopes defeat.

CHORUS:

Up!  Shake off thy slumber, Mighty nation, rise!
Marshal forth thy hosts for battle, Under Freedom’s skies.

  1. And they fought as those fight only,
    Who defend the right;
    Whom the cause of truth and justice
    Nerves with double might;
    ‘Till the foe, dismayed and beaten,
    Were compelled to yield,
    With their broken columns flying
    From the bloody field.

CHORUS

  1. And the spot is now immortal,
    Where our heroes died,
    ‘Mid the awful roar and carnage,
    Of the battle’s tide.Their dear memories in the nation,
    Never shall decay;
    It shall bear in fond remembrance,
    Gettysburg’s proud day.

CHORUS:

Pause! The earth is holy
Where our heroes lie!
And the winds are ever whisp’ring
Of their victory.

  1. Blessed heroes! Here forever
    Rest ye from your toil.
    Now is o’er, “life’s fitful fever,”
    Trouble and turmoil;
    In the soil you died defending,
    Take you last, long sleep!
    While your loved ones o’er ye bending
    Bitter tears shall weep.

CHORUS

  1. O’er the earth your deeds are sounded,
    To its farthest part;
    And your battlefield is bounded
    By a nation’s heart!
    To the latest generations
    Shall your names go down,
    Clothed with Glory’s bright creations,
    Honors and renown.

CHORUS

  1. Here shall come to offer incense,
    Braves of every clime;
    And your tomb shall be a Mecca
    To the end of time.
    Oft in future song and story,
    Shall your deeds be told,
    With new pride until the heavens
    Be together rolled.

CHORUS

General Meade: The Hero of Gettysburg

Hero of Gettysburg score

The Hero of Gettysburg (Library of Congress)

Published on July 4, 1865, this piece honors the victor of the battle, George Gordon Meade.  In fact several of the songs from this series are dedicated to Meade, including Jenny Wade: The Heroine of Gettysburg, The Battle of Gettysburg, and Gettysburg!.  While history has not been kind to Meade, the citizens of the time knew who the victor of Gettysburg was.  To honor his deeds during the war, the song General Meade: The Hero of Gettysburg was composed, and set to the tune of “Hail to the Chief.”

AIR.— Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances.

  1. Hail to the chieftain who comes in his glory,
    With all his fresh laurels wreathed on his brow,
    Which tell to the nation the great thrilling story,
    How bravely he drove back the proud Southern foe.

CHORUS:

When through the woodland shade,
And up the mountain glade,
Echo carried to the winds the loud martial strains,
And along the sounding shore,
Where Susquehanna’s waters pour,
Was heard the cannon’s dreadful roar,
From Gettysburg plains.

  1. He comes like a conqueror, with bright armor gleaming,
    Fair hands to greet him like white lillies wave;
    Long may the chief, on whom mild eyes are beaming,
    Live in the hearts of the fair and the brave.

CHORUS:

He comes in his warrior pride,
Spread the tidings far and wide,
Let them resound through country and town,
Raise high the banners gay,
Spread flowers in his way,
And gather the choicest wreaths,
The hero to crown.

  1. Columbia, we honor thy noble commander,
    And give to the patriot the applause which is due;
    May we from thy shrine ne’er be tempted to wander,
    But ever give praise to the valiant and true.

CHORUS:

Let shouts of welcome rise,
In loud exulting cries,
Let the nation’s chorus swell in boldest of strains,
And every passing breeze,
Which sweeps through the forest trees,
Tell of the victories,
Of Gettysburg plains.

Many popular songs came out of the American Civil War, but only a few were inspired by the battle of Gettysburg.  The next time you listen to a CD, mp3 player, or even a record, remember that music is powerful; as such, music is a powerful way to commemorate.  While there are many forms of commemoration at Gettysburg, monuments, markers and such, there are also musical tributes.  This form of remembrance…music…is something that we all can take joy in, both today, and during the American Civil War.

P.S.  Just for fun…two immensely entertaining if somewhat inaccurate modern musical tributes to the Battle of Gettysburg…showing even in our own modern generations Gettysburg continues to inspire musical composition…

The Brandos: Gettysburg

Iced Earth: Gettysburg (1863)

-Nate Hess
Gettysburg National Military Park

About The Staff

Staff of Gettysburg National Military Park
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