Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Rebel Yell

Shelby Foote was wrong. In Ken Burns's Civil War documentary, he claimed that no one really knew what the rebel yell sounded like.

At the New York Civil War Roundtable meeting yesterday, we heard a recording of the yell. In the 1930's, recordings of it by different Confederate veterans were made. I and my dinner companions listened to the recordings of the individuals. It sounded like the high-pitched squawking of a mad chicken.

The Museum of the Confederacy then did something amazing. They combined the sounds of the individuals and duplicated them many times. First, the sound of a platoon was played, then a brigade and finally, a corps. The final recording sent chills up my spine. It was a cascade of high-pitched, never-ending squawks. They continued and crowded out all other sounds. Imagine having to repel that with only one or two combined shots with smoke billowing around you. One woman grimaced. I paused in eating my dessert. I could not digest. I now understand why the Union troops at Gaines Mill broke and ran. I would've on hearing those terrible sounds.

When the moderator offered a copy of a CD with the rebel yell, there were no takers. We needed no vicarious terror in our lives.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

1 comment:

  1. Another item that came up at this meeting was your question as to whether Robert E Lee ever regretted that he did not fight on. Our speaker, the author Noah Andre Trudeau, had not heard of this.

    Evidently, Lee attended a meeting of ex-Confederates in 1870, during which he expressed regrets about his surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, given the effects of Republican Reconstruction policy on the South. Speaking to former Confederate Governor of Texas Fletcher Stockdale, he said:

    “Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand.”[•] – Robert E. Lee

    • Adams, Charles. "The High Ground", When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession.

    I additionally discovered that this particular quote, along with many others by Lee, is used by many extreme right bloggers. I feel certain, that Lee would not have approved of this.