Howe's being a published author troubled her husband greatly, especially due to the fact that her poems many times had to do with critiques of women's roles as wives, her own marriage, and women's place in society.
She was inspired to write "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" after she and her husband visited Washington, D.C., and met Abraham Lincoln at the White House in November 1861. During the trip, her friend James Freeman Clarke suggested she write new words to the song "John Brown's Body", which she did on November 19. The song was set to William Steffe's already existing music and Howe's version was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. It quickly became one of the most popular songs of the Union during the American Civil War.