If the South can be said to have had a national anthem at all, it would have been "God Save the South." Written early in the war by George H. Miles (a Marylander writing under the pseudonym Earnest Halpin) and set to music by a composer with the marvelous name of Charles Wolfgang Amadeus Ellerbrock (the arranger of "Maryland, My Maryland"), it tempered the martial spirit of Julia Ward Howe's more famous "Battle Hymn of the Republic" with the unwavering conviction that God would come to the aid of the embattled South. The first song to be published in the Confederacy, it was published in no fewer than nine editions. The first Southern publication was by A.E. Blackmar in New Orleans, followed by printings in Charleston, South Carolina; Macon and Savannah, Georgia; another New Orleans printing by a different house; and two in Richmond, Virginia.
The song showcases the South's strong sense of identification with Virginian George Washington, who was seen as a rebel by the British Crown during the American colonies' revolt against England. It echoed the belief of many Southerners that the War Between the States was the Second American Revolution:
Rebels before, our fathers of yore.
Rebel's the righteous name Washington bore.
Why, then, be ours the same,
The name that he snatched from shame,
Making it first in fame, foremost in war.
Although many Southerners argue that Daniel Emmett's minstrel tune "Dixie's Land" deserves to be known as the Confederate national anthem, Richard B. Harwell points out in his 1950 publication "Confederate Music" that "Dixie's Land" "can hardly be said to meet the requirements of a national anthem, [although] it has become a truly national tune, permanently enshrined in the hearts of Americans in both the North and the South." That honor rightly belongs to "God Save the South" not just by virtue of its status as the new nation's first published song but also because of its stirring poetry and its outstanding musical setting.
"God Save the South"