How many authors can boast about writing a book on a subject that’s  never been written about?

How many authors can boast about writing a book on a subject that’s  never been written about?

Terryl W. Elliott, whose recently published book on the history of the Rebel Yell, “Dammit, Holler ‘em Across!” is one such author. His 221-page nonfiction book focuses on the origins of the Rebel Yell, the sound of the Confederate battle cry and stories and poems related to the yell, which Terryl says is an  iconic part of the Civil War.

While his thoroughly researched book is based on historical facts, Terryl says there’s an exception to his claim of authoring the first book about the Rebel Yell.

Terryl says the book, “Rebel Yell,” written by humorist H. Allen Smith in the 1950s, “was primarily a book of humor ...  was (Smith’s) way of making fun of the South ...  and wasn’t that serious of a book. ”

On the other hand, Terryl says his novel was “the first serious book written about the Rebel Yell.”

Terryl believes history will benefit from his easy-to-read book because  new  light on the Rebel Yell was shed in some areas and because little bits and pieces of information scattered throughout literature was consolidated into one source.

“I think that should prove a benefit in the long run,” he adds.

In his introduction, Terryl says the  book’s intent is to present as much of the available evidence on the Rebel Yell as possible in an orderly, readable and enjoyable manner, then draw some conclusions on the accumulated materials.

“I will be acting as a ‘guide’ to the reader as we search for, and investigate, the Rebel Yell, which admittedly gives me the opportunity to insert some of my own thoughts and interpretations about any specific subject being looked at during our investigation...” he concludes.

While discussing his fourth published book, Terryl notes the Rebel Yell had nothing in common with the Yankee Cheer, which he describes as a “formalized military cheer.”

The Rebel battle cry, though, “was more animalistic, a high-pitched shriek of some kind” whose primary purposes were to get the “adrenaline flowing” in the attacking Rebel forces and to frighten the enemy.

Did Rebel troops charging across an open field yelling in “almost a falsetto shriek” really scare the Union forces?

That’s debatable.

“Mythology says that when the Rebels charged and let out that Rebel Yell, it scared the Yankees so bad that they turned around and ran,” Terryl says, adding there are many documented instances of frightened Union forces running from shrieking Rebels.

One such documented instance occurred in May 1864 during a battle near Richmond, Va., when the Confederate commander, Lt. Gen. Jubal “Old Jube” Early ordered his regiment to make another attack to drive Union troops off the battlefield.

“At that point,” Terryl says, “(Old Jube) was informed: ‘We can’t do that. We are out of ammunition. We don’t have anything to charge with.’”

To that excuse, Old Jube replied: “Dammit, holler ‘em across!”

According to witnesses, the order was carried out.  Using the Rebel Yell as a weapon, the Rebus charged, frightening the Federals off the field.

“This was the best example of the effectiveness of the Rebel Yell  I could find,” he notes, thus the title of his book, “Dammit, Holler ‘em Across! – The History of the Rebel Yell.”

No one knows  how many times the  Rebel Yell succeeded in routing the enemy, but as Terryl points out in his book, “(The Yankees ) didn’t run every time, because they won the war.”

As for how this frightening yell sounded, “no one  knows ... because no one is around now that heard it,” he says. “And, at best, everything is second and thirdhand.”

Terryl notes in the introduction that “while there have been numerous attempts to duplicate (the Rebel Yell) ... it still remains, at best,  an educated guess based on available evidence. The reliability of that evidence varies considerably depending upon its source and nature.”

In the origins section, Terryl traces the  Rebel Yell to the various Celtic people who made up 75 percent of the South at this time, as well as various Indian tribes in Oklahoma that provided soldiers for the Confederacy.

In the “The Sound of the Yell” section, names, word descriptions, phonetic descriptions and various recorded versions are covered.

Stories about the last Rebel Yell,  a discussion on the Yankee Cheer and more can be found in the “Stories, Poems, Etc.” section.

Terryl is no stranger to “Around Town.” The Independence author, historian and poet was featured on the occasion of the publications of his first three books: “The Fifth Funeral – A Suspicious Tale of Bushwhackers, Outlaws and Longevity,” “The Seventh Virgin – Selected Poems”  and “Creek Country – A True Story of Outlaws, Mayhem and Justice.”

Published by Partisan Press, Terryl’s  new, soft-cover  book sells for $16.

It can be purchased from the author at twelliott@comcast.net or by calling Terryl at 816-353-7617. The book also is  available at the Blue & Grey Book Shoppe, 106 E. Walnut St., Independence, and online at www.heraldsbookstore.com and at the Museum of the Confederacy site, www.moc.org.

A graduate of Blue Springs High School and of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Terryl will be at the Blue & Grey Book Shoppe for a booksigning on a date to be announced.

He also has two upcoming speaking engagements/booksignings: May 12 at the  Civil War Round Table of Western Missouri meeting; May 19 at the Civil War Study Group meeting. Call Terryl for times and locations.

In conclusion, the author believes that the Eastern and Western Theaters of War had their own Rebel Yell.

 “So what I think happened is that the Rebel Yell that was written and talked about was what I call the Eastern

Theater version of the yell,” he says, citing the fact that many of the major battles were fought in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

Terryl’s well-written book should appeal to all history and Civil War buffs. It’s interesting and doesn’t read like a textbook.

Give it a read. You might want to try your own version of the Rebel Yell.