Hold The Fort

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This hymn was inspired by a story told by Daniel Whittle from the American Civil War:

Just before [Will­iam Te­cum­seh] Sher­man be­gan his fa­mous march to the sea in 1864, and while his ar­my lay camped in the neigh­bor­hood of Atlanta [Georgia] on the 5th of Oc­to­ber, the ar­my of Hood, in a care­ful­ly pre­pared move­ment, passed the right flank of Sher­man’s ar­my, gained his rear, and com­menced the de­struction of the rail­road lead­ing north, burn­ing block­houses and cap­tur­ing the small gar­ri­sons along the line. Sher­man’s ar­my was put in ra­pid mo­tion pur­su­ing Hood, to save the sup­plies and larg­er posts, the prin­ci­pal one of which was lo­cat­ed at Al­too­na Pass. Gen­er­al Corse, of Il­li­nois, was sta­tioned there with about fif­teen hun­dred men, Col­o­nel Tour­te­lotte be­ing se­cond in com­mand. A mil­lion and a half ra­tions were stored here and it was high­ly im­port­ant that the earth­works com­mand­ing the pass and pro­tect­ing the sup­plies be held. Six thou­sand men un­der com­mand of Gen­e­ral French were de­tailed by Hood to take the po­si­tion. The works were com­plete­ly sur­round­ed and sum­moned to sur­rend­er. Corse re­fused and a sharp fight com­menced. The de­fend­ers were slow­ly driv­en in­to a small fort on the crest of the hill. Ma­ny had fall­en, and the re­sult seemed to ren­der a pro­long­a­tion of the fight hop­eless. At this mo­ment an of­fi­cer caught sight of a white sig­nal flag far away across the val­ley, twen­ty miles dis­tant, up­on the top of Ken­e­saw Mount­ain. The sig­nal was an­swered, and soon the mes­sage was waved across from moun­tain to moun­tain:

“Hold the fort; I am coming. W. T. Sher­man.”

Cheers went up; every man was nerved to a full ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the po­si­tion; and un­der a mur­der­ous fire, which killed or wound­ed more than half the men in the fort-Corse him­self bei­ng shot three times through the head, and Tour­te­lotte tak­ing com­mand, though himself bad­ly wound­ed-they held the fort for three hours un­til the ad­vance guard of Sherman’s ar­my came up. French was obliged to re­treat.

Lyrics and Music: Philip P. Bliss

Ho, my comrades! see the signal
waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing,
victory is nigh.

Refrain:
Hold the fort, for I am coming,
Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to Heaven,
By Thy grace we will.

See the mighty host advancing,
Satan leading on;
Mighty ones around us falling,
courage almost gone!

See the glorious banner waving!
Hear the trumpet blow!
In our Leader’s Name we triumph
over ev’ry foe.

Fierce and long the battle rages,
but our help is near;
Onward comes our great Commander,
cheer, my comrades, cheer!

Although Philip Bliss did not consider this to be one of his better hymns, his monument at Rome, Pennsylvania bears this inscription: “P. P. Bliss, author of ‘Hold The Fort’”

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One Response to “Hold The Fort”

  1. Jim League says:

    Great song. I am teaching about Philadelphia in Rev 3 and this fits with it perfectly.

    Thanks,

    Maranatha!

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