Chewy Morsel #1 – Where “The Rebel Yell” First Got Yelled by Jim Surkamp

by Jim Surkamp on January 12, 2016 in Jefferson County

Rare Footage of Civil War Veterans Doing the Rebel Yell.

Whether it was a yell heard in clashes in ancient Scotland or from a Commanche on the Plains, the spine-chilling yell that became known as the “Rebel Yell” – the one that historian Shelby Foote described as “a foxhunt yip mixed up with sort of a banshee squall” – was first ululated around July 18-19, 1861 on a road a little east of Winchester, Va. en route to Berry’s Ferry and en route to the first major engagement of the Civil War at Manassas/Bull Run


Or so contended John N. Opie, a young cavalryman with the Virginia 6th Cavalry with that group and with J.E.B., Stuart’s First Virginia Cavalry in its nascent state. He wrote:

. . . our disgruntled army moved towards the Blue Ridge Mountains. We were all completely at a loss to comprehend the meaning of our retrograde movement, until a general order was read, informing us that we were marching to the relief of Beauregard at Manassas, where a great battle was imminent. At this news, the whole army set up a continuous yell. It was the first Rebel yell, which afterward became so familiar to friend and foe. – Opie, p. 25.

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Opie, John N. (1899). “A rebel cavalryman with Lee, Stuart, and Jackson.” Chicago, W. B. Conkey company. Print.

Opie, John N. (1899). “A rebel cavalryman with Lee, Stuart, and Jackson.” 19 September 2008 Web. 6 January 2016.