IntroductionThe song was written by Bob Dylan, an American songwriter, researcher, film-maker, and a performer. It was used as a soundtrack in the Civil War movie “Gods and Generals”. Most of the concepts articulated in the song connect American history on Civil War to the suffering of soldiers. Bob’s song lyrics are based on researched American history presented through a song genre. Furthermore, most of Dylan songs explore the themes of American Wars. For instance, in the song “Tempest”, he refers to North American 19th Century conflict (Linderman 44). Therefore, he is conversant with researched American war history.

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Historical Narrative
The songwriter presents American Civil War history. In the first verse, he claims that something from the sea swept across the land of the free and rich. This refers to America that was characterized by slavery and only the free owned the land. In verse 6, it refers to the death of Stonewall Jackson, who was accidentally shot by his own troops (Costa and Kahn 533). The Americans got their history wrong when they incorporated slavery in their system and created both free and slave states. The slaves would definitely demand freedom and Civil War was the result. However, they gotten their history right when Robert Lee finally surrendered in 1865 and granted the slaves their freedom (Fox 127).

Era of the Song
The song was written in 21st Century but it depicts historical events that occurred in 19th Century. The use of the song in the Civil War movie shows the importance of Americans learning from their history. Dylan believes that those practicing racism and religious discrimination in America today, can learn from such history. Division in America led to Civil War that was detrimental to all Americans. The writer intended to remind Americans about their history, the struggles, and sacrifices others made to ensure that freedom is gained in the country.

The Song Relevance
The song shows the implications of war. Deaths, suffering, and parents losing their only sons in war are some results of war. Therefore, different ideologies in a country should not be allowed to plunge the country into war. Consequently, Americans should learn from the song and prevent emergence of another Civil War due to racism.

  • Costa, Dora L., and Matthew E. Kahn. “Cowards and Heroes: Group Loyalty in the American Civil War.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics vol.118 no.2, 2003, pp. 519-548.
  • Fox, William Freeman. Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865. Albany Publishing Company, 1889, pp. 122-132
  • Linderman, Gerald. Embattled courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War. Simon and Schuster, 2008, pp. 30-44