The Author of “Sherman’s March to the Sea”.
Song was smuggled out of a Prison Camp in South Carolina,
hidden in another prisoner’s wooden leg.
BYERS, LIEUT. S.H.M (1838-1933). Pvt. 5th Iowa Infantry, served four years, wounded. He was taken prisoner of war at Chattanooga and spent 14 months in Libby and other prisons. Escaped and served on Sherman’s staff. Author of “Bells of Capistrano”.
While in prison he wrote “Sherman’s March to the Sea”. Byers has written the first four lines of “Sherman’s March to the Sea” and has identified it as so. Byers has written on a large page: "First four lines of Sherman’s March to the Sea”
"Our camp fires shone bright on the mountains
That frowned on the river below,
While we stood by our guns in the morning
And eagerly watched for the foe.
Yours most truly,
Des Moines, Iowa”.
Together with a lengthy two page TLS from the Head of References, Library of Congress to Senator Edward Martin, July 15, 1958. This letter details the history of Byers poem, confirms he wrote the words in prison, smuggled it out in a prisoner’s wooded leg and when Byers returned to the North, he found the Northern Army singing his song. Byers gave the song to an unspecified publisher, who eventually paid Byers only $5 in royalties. The first example of Byers song in his hand we have seen offered................ $1895.00