McClellan Poetry Day: Whittier

SATURDAY | This is something of a lazy McClellan Poetry Day for me because my work has largely been done in an article by Carol Iannone of the National Review.

In the period before the Peninsula Campaign, some well meaning person had booked as AoP camp entertainment the political activists "The Hutchinson Family Singers." This is not surprising, given the overwhelming preponderance of Republicans in the rank and file of the army, nevertheless it caused fights to break out and threats to be made and McClellan banned the Hutchinsons from camp evermore. Needless to say, he burned political capital in doing so.

Recall that the ethos at that time was reunion.

The Hutchisons sang a song, lyrics by John Greenleaf Whittier that characterized reunion as an unworthy objective of the war;

Then waste no blows on lesser foes
On strife unworthy freemen.
God lifts today the vail, and shows
The features of the demon!
O North and South
Its victims both,
Can ye not cry
"Let slavery die!"
And union find in freedom?

The lyric is here and the article is here.

Before the joy of peace must come
The pains of purifying.

An amazing thing to sing to the soldiers of 1861.