Tag Archives: Civil War

The story of the writing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic

Some more Civil War history on this July fourth.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic became one of the most popular songs in the North during the Civil War, and was also an important rally song used during the 1950s/1960s civil rights movement. And its central theme is stated by its last stanza:

In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom
That transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy,
Let us die to make men free;
While God is marching on.

That stanza in many ways encompasses much of American history, since many of the original colonies were formed by deeply religious Christians who had made their religion and its moral rules central to their lives. That faith ended up being seeped in much of American culture for the next four hundred years, and guided the country’s actions both in domestic and foreign policy.

Archeologists reap treasures from a newly-discovered POW camp from the Civil War

Archeologists reap treasures from a newly-discovered POW camp from the Civil War.

Camp Lawton’s obscurity helped it remain undisturbed all these years. Built about 50 miles south of Augusta, the Confederate camp imprisoned about 10,000 Union soldiers after it opened in October 1864 to replace the infamous Andersonville prison. But it lasted barely six weeks before Sherman’s army arrived and burned it during his march from Atlanta to Savannah.

Barely a footnote in the war’s history, Camp Lawton was a low priority among scholars. Its exact location was never verified. While known to be near Magnolia Springs State Park, archaeologists figured the camp was too short-lived to yield real historical treasures. That changed last year when Georgia Southern archaeology student Kevin Chapman seized on an offer by the state Department of Natural Resources to pursue his master’s thesis by looking for evidence of Camp Lawton’s stockade walls on the park grounds.