Blogging A-Z Y Is For Yell

Confederate charge

With a Rebel Yell by Mort Künstler

I highly recommend this artist’s work for quality and authenticity. He’s excellent.

Y is for yell. I wavered between a scene with a Yankee captain at a soiree and the yell, but I decide to go with the yell since most people don’t realize what an important part of the battle and mystique of war it was. Letters and diaries from Union soldiers talk about it, comparing it to sounding like demons from hell had been unleashed. One soldier says it so terrified them they stopped in their tracks during a charge, frozen with fear. Their officers broke the spell and urged them forward with ice in their hearts. A prisoner said he was glad to have been captured so he might never have to listen to that unholy scream again.

You might well imagine the effect of the war whoops of thousands of men bearing down on you with bayonets flashing in the sunlight. Bonus tidbit. Few actually died in bayonet fighting. Following one battle Stuart’s men gathered around two dead men who had bayonetted each other to death and were still standing, perfectly balanced against each other. It was an unusual enough event to be mentioned in more than one memoir.

I’ve listened to various recordings of older Confederates in later years. One, however, said it’s impossible for anyone to faithfully give a rebel yell with a full belly and false teeth. Another soldier said it was born of the fox hunting yip call most southern boys grew up with. Rich or poor, in the south, this was mostly an agrarian society. They were hunters.

It was first a yip, then a deep bark, and finally a high long yelp again. The three yelps did not tire out the marching or charging soldiers as the yells people thought might have been used. A prolonged yell burned the air out of the lungs and tired the soldiers. This yelping had the opposite effect.

Daughters of the Confederacy CD excerpt of the Rebel yell.

So, for your entertainment, the Rebel yell.


  1. That recording is a little terrifying. I’m with the guy who got captured and was relieved he wouldn’t have to hear it anymore. I gotta believe the smell of urine would fill the air after you hear that cacophony of screams.

    Wow, that really brought your words to life, Julie.

    And, as they sang in Les Miserable, One Day More!

    1. John,

      It’s kind of fascinating, isn’t it? Can you imagine it with young, healthy men?

      One more day. Thank you so much for sticking with me. I feel I’ve been very selfish with my long posts.

    1. Djinnia,

      It was my pleasure to come by. I wish I’d found you sooner. I’ll be back to read through all your posts. I already went through part of them.

      Thank you so much.

  2. I agree with John. When you listen to the recording of the yell multiplied out to 70 men, you begin to get a feel for the battlefield. Not only would that yell have intimidated the enemy, but it would have helped to buoy to spirits of the soldiers and create a sense of togetherness. It’s not just me and my rifle, but it’s us as a unit. That’s what I hear in it.

    Thanks for writing about this, Julie. Fascinating!

  3. That’s quite a yell, Julie! I learn so much from you, it’s unbelievable how knowledgeable you are. And you make the civil war come to life in the most intriguing way! <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *