The Rain (Should Bring Life, Boys)

Published:January 11, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

As our entry makes clear, rain was a huge factor at the Civil War battle of Spotsylvania Court House in May 1864:

The worst of [the fighting] occurred at an exposed portion of the line Confederates dubbed the “Mule Shoe” and a nearby a curve that came to be known as the “Bloody Angle.” Bodies piled up five deep in a driving rainstorm so that blood mixed with water and some wounded men drowned. “No Mardi Gras Carnival ever devised such a diabolical looking set of devils as we were,” a Mississippian recalled. “It was no imitation of red paint and burnt cork, but genuine human gore and gun powder smoke.”

Yet despite those memorable images of blood mixed with water and wounded men drowning, sketches, paintings, and engravings of the battle seem to be all dry. Here are a few examples (as always, click to enlarge):

The battle was many days long, true, and certainly it didn’t rain the whole time. But still. That’s why I love the song in the above video, performed by Augusta County–native Scott Miller. Besides being gorgeous and sad, it’s soaking wet.

PREVIOUSLY: Scott Miller performs “Dear Sarah,” another song inspired by the Civil War.

IMAGES: Top left: Battle of Spotsylvania (ca. 1888) (Kurtz and Allison); top right: Battle of Spottsylvania (1887) by Thure De Thulstrup; bottom left: The Brown House at Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield by Alfred R. Waud; bottom right: Battle of the Wilderness—Attack at Spotsylvania Court House by Alonzo Chappel