We just received a meebo question asking what the infamous “rebel yell” might sound like. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, the rebel yell was basically a battle cry many confederate infantrymen used before they charged a federal position. Soldiers would yell to intimidate their opponents and relieve their fears. In his book, The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy, Bell Irvin Wiley describes the yell this way: “As it flourished on the field of combat, the Rebel yell was an unpremeditated, unrestrained and utterly informal 'hollering.' It had a mixture of fright, pent-up nervousness, exultation, hatred and a pinch of pure deviltry.” Also, Wiley argues that many confederate brigades had their own unique yells and calls. So don’t assume all rebels yelled the same! Wiley gives an example of one young Federal soldier’s experience during an attack: “One of the soldiers gave a whoop, which was followed by such a succession of whoops from his comrades as made the woods reverberate for miles around.”
Today, you can relive the glories of a confederate charge by enjoying Rebel Yell whiskey and screaming like a banshee at home.
Wiley, Bell Irvin. The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy. New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1943. p. 72-73