From the Archives

"The First Gun is Fired"

Posted 4/15/2021 By The Civil War Monitor
Library of Congress
George F. Root

Published three days after the fall of Fort Sumter in April 1861, "The First Gun is Fired: May God Protect the Right" is known to be the first song written specifically about the Civil War. Penned by George F. Root, who would go on to author over 30 songs about the conflict—including the famed "The Battle Cry of Freedom"—"The First Gun" would garner a wide audience throughout the North. Below are the lyrics, in full. 

 

The first gun is fired!
May God protect the right!
Let the freeborn sons of the North arise
In power's avenging night;
Shall the glorious Union our fathers have made,
By ruthless hands be sunder'd,
And we of freedom sacred rights
By trait'rous foes be plunder'd?

Chorus
Arise! arise! arise!
And gird ye for the fight,
And let our watchword ever be,
"May God protect the right!"

The first gun is fired!
Its echoes thrill the land,
And the bounding hearts of the patriot throng,
Now firmly take their stand;
We will bow no more to the tyrant few,
Who scorn our long forbearing,
But with Columbia's stars and stripes
We'll quench their trait'rous daring.

Chorus
Arise! arise! arise!
And gird ye for the fight,
And let our watchword ever be,
"May God protect the right!"

The first gun is fired!
Oh, heed the signal well,
And the thunder tone as it rolls along
Shall sound oppression's knell;
For the arm of freedom is mighty still,
But strength shall fail us never,
Its strength shall fail us never,
That strength we'll give to our righteous cause,
And our glorious land forever.

Chorus
Arise! arise! arise!
And gird ye for the fight,
And let our watchword ever be,
"May God protect the right!"

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