In his song “Battle of the Bull Run,” Johnny Horton recounted the bloody encounters between the Confederate and Union armies during the American Civil War in the 1860s. As historical literature presented, the Confederates, more likely, won in the battle. Inspired by this triumph, the American balladeer recorded a Confederate soldier song as a follow-up. Written by Merle Kilgore in 1959, the song was called “Johnny Reb” who was referred to as the national representation of the common Confederate armies.
You fought all the way, Johnny Reb, Johnny Reb
You fought all the way, Johnny Reb
Those were the two lines frequently mentioned in the song. They simply symbolize the bravery and heroism that Johnny Reb has shown while in the battle until the time he took his last breath. Each of the four verses has creatively pictured the momentous events in which Johnny Reb played a role.
But who really is Johnny Reb? Apart from the usual attire for which he’s commonly described, what other important things about him that we need to know? Read on to find out.
The Life of Johnny Reb Put Into a Song
The first verse of the song seems to provide a summary of Johnny Reb’s adventure. The soldier was portrayed marching into the battle with Gen. Robert E. Lee, so brave and hopefull that his troop will achieve victory in the end. The next line that follows talks about his death but with the emphasis that he “didn’t die in vain.” That’s because his heroism became the talk of the town following his death.
In the second stanza, we can see an image of Johnny Reb’s critical and final moment. That was perhaps the most difficult hour in his life. He was severely injured and couldn’t do anything to help his fellow soldiers. All he could do was to cry as he watched his fallen men. Then, the next verse depicted Reb as he made his final stand. Putting those lines into an image would be truly devastating considering the number of casualties which took days to detemine the total.
Finally, the last stanza centers on Reb’s death having reached then-President Abraham Lincoln (a.k.a. Honest Abe). Everybody thought that he’ll be holding a grand victory ball for that. However, what he actually did was to “ask the band to play the song Dixie” for him.
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Civil War, Johnny Horton, Johnny Reb, Merle Kilgore, Robert E. Lee