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October 2015 Documents of the Month | The Conquered Banner (And a Reply)


The June 24, 1865 issue of the New York Freeman’s Journal and Catholic Register featured a poem by “Moina” entitled “The Conquered Banner.” Capturing the mourning resignation of the Confederate South after Appomattox, the poem became an instant classic and was set to music and published in song form before the year was out.

A pro-Confederate Englishman, Henry Houghton, read the poem and, in October 1865, wrote a poetic “Reply.”  The two poems articulated competing attitudes of how Confederates should respond to defeat; the yin and yang between them still resonates today.

The author of “The Conquered Banner” was soon revealed to be Father Abram Ryan (1839-1886), the so-called “Poet-Priest of the Confederacy.”

“Conquered Banner” published in New York Freeman’s Journal, June 24, 1865 under the name “Moina” (character in Ossian published in Gaelic in 1773)

Henry Houghton’s “Reply” written upon reading “Conquered Banner” – published in Richmond October 1865

Museum Members can click over to the Members Only blog, “The Circular” to see a bonus poem from the archives.