The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

II. Poets of the Civil War I

§ 1. The Mood of the North

WITH the opening of the Civil War the people of the loyal states were stirred to a more intense realization of the high responsibilities of citizenship in a republic. At once the country was confronted by the gigantic task of feeding and clothing the men in the field, of caring for the sick and wounded, of raising the crops, and keeping the shops and factories going. Such a radical readjustment of forces called out powers hitherto unsuspected either in the nation or in its individual citizens. The great present seemed to engulf the petty troubles and ill feelings, social and political, of the past, and the people of the North found themselves moved by a national spirit which knew few of the bounds of the old provincialism. Like the shot at Lexington almost a hundred years before, the guns at Sumter struck the note of a new era. The country marched to war with the gay step of youth; it came back solemnly, as if tried by fire. As it went, the bands played Annie Laurie, and the men sang the sentimental songs of adolescent America; they returned chanting

  • Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.