|The battle hymn of the republic—‘a hundred circling camps’: the fifth Vermont in 1861, with their Colonel, L. A. Grant The time of this photograph and its actors connect directly with Julia Ward Howe's inspiration for her Battle hymn. The author, in the late fall of 1861, had made her first visit to Washington in company with her pastor, James Freeman Clarke, Governor Andrew of Massachusetts, and her husband, Dr. Howe, who, already past the age of military service, rendered valuable aid as an officer of the Sanitary Commission. Of her visit she writes in her Reminiscences: “On the return from the review of troops near the city, to beguile the rather tedious drive, we sang from time to time snatches of the army songs so popular at that time, concluding, I think, with ‘John Brown's body.’ The soldiers . . . answered back, ‘ Good for you!’ Mr. Clarke said, ‘ Mrs. Howe, why do you not write some good words for that stirring tune?’ I replied that I had often wished to do this, but had not as yet found in my mind any leading toward it. I went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, ‘I must get up and write those verses down, lest I fall asleep and forget them.’ So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed, and found in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper. I had learned to do this when, on previous occasions, attacks of versification had visited me in the night, and I feared to have recourse to a light lest I should wake the baby, who slept near me. I was always obliged to decipher my scrawl before another night should intervene, as it was only legible while the matter was fresh in my mind. At this ”|
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