The Popular John Brown Song. A Famous Camp Song and Chorus. Partly Written, Composed and Arranged by Frank Wilder
Boston: J.W. Turner, . Broadside, with music and lyrics. Sheet size: 9 1/4 x 11 inches. Minor staining.
Very rare broadside edition of the great marching song of the Civil War.
At a flag-raising ceremony at Fort Warren, near Boston, on Sunday May 12, 1861, just a month into the Civil War, the "John Brown" song was publicly played for the first time. The music was based on the Methodist and Baptist camp meeting hymn, Say, Brothers, Will You Meet Us. Various authors quickly claimed ownership of the lyrics, though it is believed that the original was a collective effort by a group of Union soldiers at Fort Warren. The song proved phenomenally popular and would become not only the most well-known marching song of the war, but would lead directly to a Confederate parody, as well as Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic. Although from its earliest performance the song was believed to have been about abolitionist John Brown of Harper's Ferry fame, the original was likely about Sergeant John Brown of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Massachusetts Militia. Three broadside printings of the song were published and copyrighted shortly after the Fort Warren performance, including the present one "partly written, composed and arranged by Frank Wilder" and copyrighted by J.W. Turner on 19 July. All are rare. This broadside printing unrecorded in OCLC.