August 30, 2013

"What Did the Rebel Yell Sound Like?"

"In this exclusive clip from the 1930s, Confederate veterans step up to the mic and let out their version of the fearsome rallying cry:"

23 comments:

David said...

What the wounded sounded like, except that it didn't stop after one or two whoops.

The Godfather said...

Funny now, but I bet those cute old guys were scary as hell at Manassas, Antietam, Shiloh, The Wilderness, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, and so on.

Ambrose said...

It sounds just like yelling. No wonder they lost.

J Scott said...

It's actually the same types of yell that Scottish highlanders would engage in before battle. And it probably is the same noise that the Roman legions heard in the Teutoburg forest.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Yankees didn't need to yell.

sojerofgod said...

The first one or two of the gentlemen were probably as close to it as possible after time and age had robbed them. A Union captain wrote after the war that the yell was "high-pitched and wavering" and, (I have to paraphrase here, no time to look it up) had to be felt to be experienced. Like a chill running up your spine. To have five or ten thousand men running at you like the devil shrieking like wildcats. and not feel it, he said, meant that you weren't there.

Oso Negro said...

The contemporary reports were that if you heard it once, you would never forget it.

Titus said...

After hearing that it is not surprising the North won.

The Drill SGT said...

Given the life expectancies, the fact that those old Codgers were there at all is amazing.

Do the Math. 1930 was 65 years after the end of the war. Now some 15 Year old private would be 80. But one of those guys was introduced as "General" and another as "Colonel". Now brevet promotions made Cluster a BG at 23, but that wasn't usual. So that Confederate General might have been 30 at the end of the war, making him 95 in the video.

St. George said...

I have my great-grandfather's letter that he wrote to his mother after Gettysburg.

It is terrifying.

He writes of 50,000 dead and wounded. Fifty thousand. One battle. Fifty thousand. Fifty thousand.

He says it would have been better had Richmond fallen to the Union army. "No telling now when this war will stop/Have they called out the militia yet."

"I never care about going in Maryland or Pensy again, the people were very anxious for peace in those states, but I do not see how it can be made until old Abe’s time is out, it is a beautiful country & there seems as if no war was going on, from their fine crops & things so clean. How is the home guard getting on, all of them had better come out where to defend their homes, for they can do nothing where they are."

So...he is writing his mother asking if the local militia is ready to defend her and their home from a military invasion similar to the one Pennsylvania had just suffered.

Terrifying.

Amichel said...

I read somewhere that the high pitched whooping of the rebel yell was a combination of hunting calls and an Indian war cry. I dunno how accurate that is, but based on the video, it seems plausible.

madAsHell said...

I saw this film clip years ago on Joe Biden's TV.

Jason said...

The Yankees had their yell, too. A full-throated "Hurrah" or "Huzzah" and variants thereof. There are reports of the same cry in European armies as well. Tolstoy, himself a veteran of the Crimean War, writes of it in War and Peace. Remnants of it are still in use today... Sometimes ironically.

Hooah.

YoungHegelian said...

Two points:

1) Is the Rebel Yell based on fox barks? If you've ever heard a fox bark in the black of night, it'll scare the bejeepers out of you!

2) Did you notice how mild the Southern accents were in those video excerpts? Almost no twang at all. Where were those guys from?

Kansas City said...

The Civil War was horrific, but the term "casualties" is almost always used to exagerrate the effect of battles. Even the contemporaneous letter did the same thing. The following is the general definition of "casualties":

"Casualties generally included anyone who deserted, was captured, missing, wounded, or killed. In essence, if a soldier was not present during muster, he could likely be counted as a casualty."

At Gettysburg, there were 7,000 to 8,000 killed (confederate records were poor), about 27,000 wounded and about 11,000 missing. The missing would include some dead, but more prisoners and sane soldiers who said "enough" of this insanity.

The film is fascinating. The first rebal yells seem about right, and it must have been frightening to hear it. When I was a kid in the 1950's and 1960's, the "rebel yell" and "Indian yell" were well known parts of history and even used by kids as we played war and "cowboys and Indians."

Cedarford said...

Titus said...
After hearing that it is not surprising the North won.

==================

That yell was emblematic of the fighting spirit of the South. It actually explains why the South, with 1/3rd the men and 1/10th the industry and war material..lacking the technology of the North, even a real Navy save some noted vessels like the Merrimack...made the Civil War a prolonged slaughterhouse.
It shocked the smug North, which had thought the war would be a month-long easy "cakewalk" to teach the bumpkins a lesson once they saw the better-equipped and provisioned, more firepower "Union Heroes" face them in greater numbers. And put the bumpkins to rout.

surfed said...

My great great grandfather and namesake fought with Marse Robert in Kershaw's Brigade of South Carolinians with the Army of Northern Virginia from Manassas to Appomattox. Wounded at Gettysburg in the Peach Orchard. That yell left his throat many a time. Some of the men in the old film clip might be his friends or acquaintances...

EDH said...

What I don't hear is "in the midnight hour: More, More, More!"

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

The Drill SGT said...
Do the Math. 1930 was 65 years after the end of the war. Now some 15 Year old private would be 80. But one of those guys was introduced as "General" and another as "Colonel". Now brevet promotions made Cluster a BG at 23, but that wasn't usual. So that Confederate General might have been 30 at the end of the war, making him 95 in the video.

Those are most likely United Confederate Veterans ranks which had nothing to do with actual military rank. UCV ranks were more about age/membership activity than anything else.

Jim S. said...

That is fascinating. Thank you for posting this.

averagejoe said...

Deaniacs...

Broomhandle said...

Some of those cute old men were sadistic bastards too. My great-great-grandfather, a Iowa infantry officer, was captured at Chickamauga and kept a journal of his experiences in two different Confederate prison camps. Lots of pointless cruelty and casual indifference to the lives of their captives. He escaped on his third try.

eddie willers said...

Some of those cute old men were sadistic bastards too

War is Hell
~ William Tecumseh Sherman