Click on a link below to hear the Rebel Yell from Pvt. Thomas N. Alexander of the 37th NCT as recorded
by WBT Radio of Charlotte, NC:
many people can say they have heard an authentic Rebel Yell? To our knowledge
this is the only surviving example of the Rebel Yell given by one of the
140,000 Tar Heels who defended their state. Listen to the yell. Read the biography
below to learn more about the man giving the yell and how it was recorded.
Records (in the North Carolina Soldiers book series tracing the
history of Tar Heels in The War Between The States) are confusing on
this old soldier because there appears to have been four different Thomas
Alexanders with four different middle initials in four different companies
of the 37th North Carolina Regiment. Based on family stories and
newspaper accounts of the enlistment of this Thomas N. Alexander,
it seems that the North Carolina series could have mixed the biographies
because of the four men sharing the same name in one regiment.
This Thomas N. Alexander of Co. I was reported in
newspapers to have joined in Charlotte in Feb. 1862 though the North Carolina
Soldiers book shows him joining in 1864 at Liberty Mills, near Orange, Va. (perhaps rejoining after
a furlough?). The book says Thomas N. of Co. I suffered an unspecified wound at Fusel's
Mill in 1864, while Thomas R. of Co. C was wounded in the leg at
Gettysburg. Thomas N.'s obituary reports that he was wounded in the leg in
1864. Thomas N. Alexander lived to be 95 years old and
was quite active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans up until the time of his
death in 1940, the last surviving Mecklenburg County veteran of the war.
The audio files accompanying this page
by the general manager of WBT radio at a Sons of Confederate Veterans meeting in
1935 when Alexander was 90 years old. The interviewer spends several minutes
with Alexander asking for the history of the Rebel Yell. Alexander, whose
age makes it hard to understand him, replies that he first heard the yell at
"Cold Harbor", apparently meaning the 1862 Seven Days Battle of Gaines
Mill, which was sometimes called First Cold Harbor, which was his first
battle. Alexander then says whenever the Yankees heard the Rebel Yell,
"they would fly," meaning run away. The interviewer then asks all of the
veterans in attendance to give the yell. They give
several, controlled monosyllabic calls.
Apparently, at some point later in the meeting,
perhaps in a more private room as the sound quality seems to improve, the
interviewer asks Alexander to give his own version of the yell.