Julia Ward Howe & The Battle Hymn of the Republic
On November 18, 1861, poet and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe accompanied her husband, Dr. Samuel Howe, to Fort Griffin, Virginia to review Union troops defending the capital. The ceremony was cut short when the Federals were forced to give chase to a nearby party of Confederates. Dr. and Mrs. Howe returned to their Washington hotel, but Mrs. Howe awoke in the early morning hours with ‘long lines’ of a poem in her mind. She rose in darkness and wrote six stanzas of The Battle Hymn of the Republic on her husband’s stationery. In February 1862, The Atlantic Monthly printed the poem for a $5 payment. Soon troops all over the North were singing the stirring words to the popular tune of John Brown’s Body, which had been composed in 1852.
Photo: Library of Congress