Memoranda: Why ‘Stonewall’ / by Adam Horn

Stonewall began as a class project for an undergraduate survey course on the American Civil War. The EP Mystic Chords was written under the name ‘Stonewall & the Jacksons’, a play on the nickname of Confederate General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, famous for his campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Songs on Mystic Chords took off from all kinds of places — from a Herman Melville poem on abolitionist John Brown, from Walt Whitman’s ‘Memoranda During the War’, from the Civil War-era-sounding name ‘Adelaide.’ 

Stonewall, then, is not so much a band of Confederate sympathizers, as a band of extreme nerds. One half of our founding membership is, in fact, a born and bred Boston Yankee. The other is from Kentucky, a border state to the last.

In defense of our name, a poem of Whitman’s about the importance of soldierly valor in all pursuits, from the battlefield to the writing desk:

As I ponder’d in silence,
Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long, 
A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,
Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
The genius of poets of old lands,
As to me directing like flame its eyes,
With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,
Know’st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?
And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
The making of perfect soldiers.

Be it so, then I answer’d
I too haughty Shade also sing war, and a longer and greater one than any,
Waged in my book with varying fortune, with flight, advance
and retreat, victory deferr’d and wavering,
(Yet methinks certain, or as good as certain, at the last,) the 
field the world,
For life and death, for the Body and for the eternal Soul,
Lo, I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
I above all promote brave soldiers.

– Walt Whitman, ‘As I ponder’d in silence’