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Civil War Soldiers

“They both had a particular way of yelling. The Northern troops made a sort of hurrah — it was called by one soldier ‘the deep, generous, manly shout of the Northern soldier.’ The Confederates of course had what was called the Rebel Yell.

We don’t really know what that sounded like. One Northerner described it by describing the peculiar corkscrew sensation that goes up your backbone when you hear it. And he said, ‘If you claimed you’ve heard it and weren’t scared, that means you’ve never heard it.’

It was basically, I think, a sort of fox-hunt yip mixed up with a banshee squall, and it was used on the attack. An old Confederate veteran after the war was asked at a UDC meeting somewhere in Tennessee to give the Rebel Yell. The ladies had never heard it. And he said, ‘It can’t be done, except at a run, and I couldn’t do it anyhow with a mouthful of false teeth and a stomach full of food!'”

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Shelby Foote riffing in Ken Burns’s seminal documentary The Civil War.