Author: George F. Root

George F. Root Image

Born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, George Frederick Root (1820–95) was one of the most famous patriotic songwriters of the Civil War era. His musical talent became evident from an early age. Growing up in Boston, Root studied piano under English-American composer George J. Webb. In 1845, he moved to New York City, where he taught music at the Abbott Institute for Young Ladies. Root toured Europe as a musician in 1850, returning to the States to assist composer Lowell Mason at Boston’s Academy of Music. In 1851, he began to work as a songwriter using the last name “Wurzel” (meaning root in German) as a pseudonym. He completed his first successful composition, “The Hazel Dell,” in 1853. After the start of the Civil War, Root’s compositions turned to patriotic and wartime themes. His “The Battle Cry of Freedom” (1862) quickly became one of the war’s most popular songs and remains one of Root’s best-known compositions.

The Battle Cry of Freedom

George F. Root

“The Battle Cry of Freedom” quickly became one of the war’s most popular songs, even inspiring a Southern version. Written in 1862 by prolific patriotic composer George F. Root (1820–95), it was so highly demanded that printing presses could not produce enough copies. Ultimately, 500,000 to 700,000 copies were produced.