Exploring the Rebel Yell with Waite Rawls

I am a fervent supporter of the mission of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond and its President and CEO Waite Rawls.  The museum has had to deal with some difficult financial challenges over the past few years as well as defending its reputation in a city that has found it difficult to come to terms with its Confederate past.  Through all of this Mr. Rawls has done an excellent job of maintaining the museum as an educational and research institution.  In this video Mr. Rawls discusses the research that went into trying to uncover what the famous Rebel Yell sounded like.  Click here for Part 2 as well as the rest of the MOC’s videos on YouTube.  Enjoy.

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11 comments… add one
  • Scott Manning Mar 3, 2010 @ 18:15

    I played this the other day. My wife was not paying attention and only she caught the yells. Afterward, she said, “What were those Indian war cries, you were playing?” She was surprised to hear they are possibly the original version of the Rebel yell. Good stuff.

  • Corey Meyer Mar 3, 2010 @ 3:31

    I have been listening to the two different recordings of the rebel yell and I have to confess, despite the claim that the two recordings are from different men, different units, different states…they sound identical to me. And I don't mean like Mr. Waite say the hope they would sound similar, but similar as in the same recording of the same man, same voice. JMHO!

  • toby Mar 2, 2010 @ 10:20

    Didn't Grady McWhiney have a theory that the Rebel Yell was descended from ancient Celtic war cries? There must be some connection with the times when the majority of combat was at close quarters.

    The Celts did seem to use sound in war … most armies had bands, but only the Scots brought their pipers into battle. There is at least one legend where British Celts defeated an army of Saxons just by shouting at them. But maybe that is overstating the Scots-Irish thing.

    It is fun to speculate .. even Shelby Foote seemed to think the Yell was lost for ever. Great work by Mr Rawls.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 2, 2010 @ 11:32

      He probably did, though I can't confirm it.

      • Ken Noe Mar 2, 2010 @ 13:48

        It's found in the last two pages of _Attack and Die_.

        I've been doing a pretty faithful rebel yell and Yankee hurrah in class for years now. To do the former, I just imitate my grandfather calling in cattle at the end of the day. It always creates a stir in neighboring classrooms 😉

        • Kevin Levin Mar 2, 2010 @ 14:07

          Thanks for the page numbers.

          You are more than welcome to record your “Rebel Yell” for a guest post on this blog at any time. I will pay good money for it. 😀

  • The History Enthusiast Mar 1, 2010 @ 6:01

    When that first yell came on around 1:55 my dog leaped up and stuck her tail between her legs! Scared the crap out of her, much like it did to the Yankees.

  • Corey Meyer Mar 1, 2010 @ 2:03

    Here too is another version…I wonder if they took this into consideration as well.


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