• Jake Wynn

"The Glad Notes of Victory" - A poem for Confederate surrender in April 1865

The first two weeks of April 1865 saw unbridled joy sweep across the North. After four bloody years of civil war, the US Army achieved decisive victory after decisive victory.


Petersburg was enveloped. Richmond captured. The once vaunted Army of Northern Virginia in pell-mell retreat toward the mountains of western Virginia.

Stacked arms photographed near Petersburg, VA on April 3, 1865. (Library of Congress)


These events inspired a resident of a small Pennsylvania mining village to pen a victory poem lauding the victories of the Union. His poem was set to accompany an Irish folk tune - "Thy Fair Bosom" - and was published in the Miners' Journal of Pottsville, PA on April 15, 1865.


Let the Glad Notes of Victory!

By T. J. O’B.


Let the glad notes of victory

Resound from Oregon to Maine:

Strike, strike the harp from sea to sea,

For Freedom’s sun shines forth again:

Let the trumpets ring and cannons roar.

Unfurl our banners to the air,

And raise to God on high, once more,

All hearts in earnest, grateful prayer.

For our defenders once again

Have triumphed o’er their rebel foes,

And the great Hydra girl with pain,

Is gasping ‘mid its dying throes

The boasted strategic key*

To Richmond’s walls impregnable,

Before the ingenuity,

And valor of Columbia fell.

And now her prided warlike host

Is broken, scattered in despair;

At last they see their cause is lost. –

Their “scheme” ending in empty air.

Soon, very soon, the strife will cease,

And they will for forgiveness sue;

Then welcome to the paths of peace,

Defenders of the Union true.

So let the notes of victory

Resound from Oregon to Main.

Strike, strike the harp from sea to sea,

For Freedom’s sun shines forth again.

Let trumpets ring, and cannons roar,

Unfurl our banners in the air,

And raise to God on high once more,

All hearts in earnest, grateful prayer.

*Petersburg

Cumbola, April 5th, 1865


In the days after this poem was written, the Army of Northern Virginia was trapped at Appomattox Court House. Threatened with his army's annihilation, Robert E. Lee surrendered there on April 9, 1865. More victories were to follow.


These heady times lasted a few days longer, until the news arrived in Pennsylvania of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the country descended from the peaks of exhilaration to the depths of despair.


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