When I was preparing for
my solo piano CD on the music of the Civil War,
I collected these quotes and found them very useful. I hope you do too. - Bill Carrothers
Selected Civil War Quotes
In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky-her grand old woods-her fertile fields-her beautiful rivers-her mighty lakes and star-crowned mountains. But my rapture is soon checked when I remember that all is cursed with the infernal spirit of slave-holding and wrong; When I remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten; That her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters, I am filled with unutterable loathing.
I stand before you today a thief and a robber. I stole this head, this body, these limbs, and ran off with them.
John Brown's zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely superior to mine. Mine was as the taper light; his was as the burning sun. I could live for the slave; John Brown could die for him.
The American people and the Government at Washington may refuse to recognize it for a time but the inexorable logic of events will force it upon them in the end; that the war now being waged in this land is a war for and against slavery.
Viewing the man from the genuine abolishionist ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed cold, tardy, weak and unequal to the task. But, viewing him from the sentiments of his people, which as a statesman he was bound to respect, then his actions were swift, bold, radical and decisive. Taking the man in the whole, balancing the tremendous magnitude of the situation, and the necessary means to ends, Infinite Wisdom has rarely sent a man into the world more perfectly suited to his mission than Abraham Lincoln.
Gov. Sam Houston-Texas-
Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives you may win Southern independence, but I doubt it. The North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche.
William Lloyd Garrison-
In firing his gun, John Brown has merely told what time of day it is. It is high noon.
William Howard Russell-
Little did I conceive of the greatness of the defeat (at Bull Run), the magnitude of the disaster which it had entailed upon the United States. So short-lived has been the American Union, that men who saw it rise may live to see it fall.
My very dear Sarah,
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days-perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I am no more.
I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing-perfectly willing-to lay down all the joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most grateful to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. How hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me-perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness.
But, oh Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights...always, always. And if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, and as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.
(Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the battle of Bull Run)
I see the President almost every day. I see very plainly Abraham Lincoln's dark brown face with its deep-cut lines, the eyes always to me with a deep latent sadness in the expression. None of the artists or pictures has caught the deep, though subtle and indirect expression of this man's face. There is something else there. One of the great portrait painters of two or three centuries ago is needed.
A Union soldier-
Gen. Grant habitually wears an expression as if he had determined to drive his head through a brick wall and was about to do it.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain-20th Maine-
(At the end of the first day's fighting at Fredericksburg...)
But out of that silence rose new sounds more appalling still; a strange ventriloquism, of which you could not locate the source, a smothered moan, as if a thousand discords were flowing together into a key-note weird, unearthly, terrible to hear and bear, yet startling with its nearness; the writhing concord broken by cries for help, some begging for a drop of water, some calling on God for pity; and some on friendly hands to finish what the enemy had so horribly begun; some with delirious, dreamy voices murmuring loved names, as if the dearest were bending over them; and underneath, all the time, the deep bass note from closed lips too hopeless, or too heroic, to articulate their agony...It seemed best to bestow myself between two dead men among the many left there by earlier assaults, and to draw another crosswise for a pillow out of the trampled, blood-soaked sod, pulling the flap of his coat over my face to fend off the chilling winds, and still more chilling, the deep, many voiced moan that overspread the field.
Ingredients for homemade liquor-Union Army-
The hoarse and indistinguishable orders of commanding officers, the screaming and bursting of shells, canister and shrapnel as they tore through the struggling masses of humanity, the death screams of wounded animals, the groans of their human companions, wounded and dying and trampled underfoot by hurrying batteries, riderless horses and the moving lines of battle-a perfect Hell on earth, never, perhaps to be equaled, certainly not to be surpassed, nor ever to be forgotten in a man's lifetime. It has never been effaced from my memory, day or night, for fifty years.
I think that Lee should have been hanged. It was all the worse that he was a good man and a fine character and acted conscientiously. It's always the good men who do the most harm in the world.
(from "The Armies of the Wilderness")
In glades they meet skull after skull
Where pine cones lay - the rusted gun,
Green shoes full of bones, the mouldering coat
And cuddled up skeleton;
And scores of such. Some start as in dreams,
And comrades lost bemoan;
By the edge of those wilds Stonewall had charged-
But the year and the Man were gone.
William Tecumseh Sherman-
I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.
I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers.
If the Confederacy falls, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain-
(Confederate surrender at Appomattox...)
...On they come, with the old swinging route step and swaying battle flags. In the van, the proud Confederate ensign. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood; men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond; was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured? On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word, nor whisper or vain-glorying, nor motion of man, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!
(After the death of Abraham Lincoln...)
On the Avenue in front of the White House were several hundred colored people, mostly women and children, weeping and wailing their loss. This crowd did not diminish through the whole of that cold, wet day; they seemed not to know what was to by their fate since their great benefactor was dead, and though strong and brave men wept when I met them, the hopeless grief of those poor colored people affected me more than almost anything else.
Oliver Wendall Holmes-
We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. We felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youths, our hearts were touched by fire.
Sam Watkins-1st Tennessee-
America has no north, no south, no east, no west. The sun rises over the hills and sets over the mountains, the compass just points up and down, and we can laugh now at the absurd notion of there being a north and a south. We are one and undivided.
Go to Bridge Boy Music