What famous parts of history have librarians documented and placed online, that, prior to the Internet and digital libraries, were obscure and difficult to access for the average person? One example is an authentic recording of the U.S. Confederate “Rebel Yell” from the American Civil War.
July 1st to 3rd, 2013 marks the 150 anniversary of The Battle of Gettysburg. The National Park Service has several events planned to commemorate this battle. It is an important battle because it turned the tide of the war, and the Confederates eventually lost the war to Union forces. Casualties were high on both sides. The Union had about 23,000 dead, wounded, or missing. The Confederate forces had between 20,000 to 25,000 dead, wounded or missing.
Like the Battle of Gettysburg, people have recorded many parts of the history of the conflict between the North and the South, either on paper as written history, or via audio or video. Other portions have been lost to history. One famous part of the War Between the States is the Rebel Yell. Members of the Confederate Army were famous for their Rebel Yell. When Union forces heard the Rebel Yell, it often brought them feelings of terror and panic.
But…how many people have heard an authentic Rebel Yell from an actual Confederate soldier?
Not many living today, I’m certain.
However, thanks to the digital librarians at The Library of Congress and The Smithsonian, you can hear an authentic recording of the Rebel Yell, as given by Confederate veterans. In the 1930s, some people recorded Confederate Veterans giving a Rebel Yell. This video is below.
WBT Radio of Charlotte, NC archived another example of the Rebel Yell given by Pvt. Thomas N. Alexander of the 37th North Carolina Troops in 1935, when he was about 90 years old. (You’ll have to go to the page to listen to the Rebel Yell. Unfortunately, I have not figured out how to embed an audio file of that type.)
Did the Rebel Yell sound like you imagined it would? If you heard that sound en masse from enemy soldiers, would it strike fear in your heart?