Amid all of the death and destruction that took place during the Late Unpleasantness that occurred from 1861- 1865, a much overlooked aspect of that War is the role that music played during army life.
Robert E. Lee once remarked, "I don't believe we can have an army without music."
Music was played while on the march, as a way to pass time during boredom of camp life, and even during battle. Oftentimes during a siege, nightly concerts took place. Soldiers from both sides of the lines would shout out requests. Some bands accompanied troops onto the field and played during the fighting.
A lot of the music of the time period was folk music or religious hymns that both sides sang along with other popular music of the day such as "Home Sweet Home", "Lorena", "Aura Lee", "Buffalo Gals", "Oh! Susanna", "Old Rosin the Beau", "Sweet Evelina" and "Camptown Races." Other songs were specific to one side or the other.
May God Save the
John Brown's Body
Battle Cry of Freedom
God Save the South
The Rebel Soldier
Bonnie Blue Flag
Eating Goober Peas
It was not uncommon for either side to borrow songs from the other and change the lyrics. There was a Southern version of "Battle Cry of Freedom" and there was a Union version of "
Dixie's Land" that was
called "Union Dixie."
The song "Taps" was composed during the War and there are a couple of different "legends" as to how it originated, but neither of those are true.
Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, Commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Army Corps, Army of the
is credited with composing it. It is
believed he rearranged an earlier French bugle call known as
"Tattoo," which was used to signal the end of the day.
Taps was adopted by both
and Confederate to honor military dead and is still in use today.
It is believed that more than 10,000 pieces of music were composed by the end of the War. Printing presses that published sheet music ran around the clock.
For a more comprehensive list of music of the era, try the
Public Domain Music Website - http://pdmusic.org/civilwar.html
Music in Reenacting
Music still has a large place during the reenactments. Music of the era is played at the dances held and period dances are performed.
A lot of reenactors bring guitars and fiddles and often times we sit around the campfire playing and singing long into the night.
Matthew Pizzolato's short stories have been published online and in print. He is a member of Western Fictioneers and his work can be found in the Wolf Creek series as well as his own publications, THE WANTED MAN, OUTLAW and TWO OF A KIND.
He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Western Online, a magazine dedicated to everything Western. He can be contacted through Twitter @mattpizzolato or via his website: www.matthew-pizzolato.com.
I'm going to be giving away a Kindle copy of Outlaw to whomever can answer the question below correctly. Just leave your email in a comment along with the correct answer. If more than one correct answer is given, there will be a drawing to determine the winner.
Contest Question: Which very popular John Wayne movie used the song "Lorena"?