In the morning, while recalling the incident, she found she had forgotten the words.
The poem was published in the Atlantic Monthly for February, 1862. “It was somewhat praised,” she says, “on its appearance, but the vicissitudes of the war so engrossed public attention that small heed was taken of literary matters.... I knew and was content to know, that the poem soon found its way to the camps, as I heard from time to time of its being sung in chorus by the soldiers.”
She did not, however, realize how rapidly the hymn made its way, nor how strong a hold it took upon the people.
It was “sung, chanted, recited, and used in exhortation and prayer on the eve of battle.”
It was printed in newspapers, in army hymn-books, on broadsides; it was the word of the hour, and the Union
armies marched to its swing.
Among the singers of the “Battle Hymn
” was Chaplain McCabe
, the fighting chaplain of the 122d Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
He read the poem in the “Atlantic,” and was so struck with it that he committed it to memory before rising from his chair.
He took it with him to the front, and in due time to Libby Prison, whither he was sent after being captured at Winchester
Here, in the great bare room where hundreds of Northern soldiers were herded together, came one night a rumor of disaster to the Union
A great battle, their jailers told them; a great Confederate victory.
Sadly the Northern
men gathered together in groups, sitting or lying on the floor, talking in low tones, wondering how, where, why. Suddenly, one of