Author: William H. Barnes

Unidentified Soldier on Confederate uniform, c 1861 - 1865, LOC

Little is known about William H. Barnes, the author of the lyrics for the Southern version of “The Battle Cry of Freedom.” In 1862, George F. Root published the original version of the song, which had a strong pro-Union message. Soon thereafter, Barnes, the manager of the Atlanta Amateurs, a group of volunteer musicians who performed for the benefit of various soldiers’ relief funds, produced a Southern version, for which the composer Hermann L. Schreiner modified Root’s music. Interestingly, both versions of the song make “Freedom” their battle cry, with Barnes’s refrain reading: “Our Dixie forever! She’s never at a loss! / Down with the eagle and up with the cross / We’ll rally ’round the bonny flag, we’ll rally once again, / Shout, shout the battle cry of Freedom!”