It would be hard to overestimate the ubiquity and importance of music during the American Civil War. In the camps of both North and South, regimental bands regularly inspired, amused, and consoled soldiers, who on a daily basis faced the threat of death, both from the mysterious onslaught of disease, borne by bugs they could not see, and from the bullets and cannon-shot of the enemy, whom they saw all too clearly in the close-quarter combat of the era. Music was equally important on the homefront. During the war, Northern presses published some 9,, songs, and Southern ones between The armies themselves served to advertise new songs to civilians, carrying this music with them as they marched across the land and holding concerts for civilians along the way. As in the cases of the men they missed, families found in music of the era a balm for their aching souls, which longed for the safe return of their fathers, sons, and brothers, and an end to the fratricidal conflict. Below are ten of the greatest and most popular songs that were written during the secession crisis and the Civil War. These songs were subjected to various arrangements both during and after the war, and their character and quality depend heavily on both the skill of the arranger and the performers. It was easily the most popular song among Yankee soldiers during the entire war, showing the power of music, when combined with words, to influence belief.
The Civil War played an instrumental role in the development of an American national identity. Specifically for American folk music, the war inspired songwriting on both sides of the conflict, as amateurs and professionals wrote new, timely lyrics to old English, Scottish, and Irish ballads as well as original compositions. It contains patriotic songs of the Union, songs about Southern rights, sentimental ballads, parodies, and marching songs. The liner notes by Paredon Records co-founder Irwin Silber feature song descriptions and lyrics plus a two-page essay about the music of the Civil War. Skip to main content. Music of, by, and for the people. Explore Learn Join Shop. Browse By. Eastern Africa. Middle Africa.
The War Between the States cost more than , lives, far more than any other conflict in our nation's history. Yet, it also produced more songs from both sides than any other war — 2, of them in the first year alone! In this intriguing Active Minds program, we'll listen to patriotic marches, songs of utter contempt for the other side and simple laments from the weary soldiers and the grieving ones they left behind.
During the American Civil War , music played a prominent role on both sides of the conflict: Union and Confederate. On the American Civil War battlefield, different instruments including bugles , drums , and fifes were played to issue marching orders or sometimes simply to boost the morale of one's fellow soldiers. Singing was also employed not only as a recreational activity but as a release from the inevitable tensions that come with fighting in a war. In camp, music was a diversion away from the bloodshed, helping the soldiers deal with homesickness and boredom. Soldiers of both sides often engaged in recreation with musical instruments, and when the opposing armies were near each other, sometimes the bands from both sides of the conflict played against each other on the night before a battle. Each side had its particular favorite tunes, while some music was enjoyed by Northerners and Southerners alike, as exemplified by United States President Abraham Lincoln 's love of Dixie , the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy. To this day, many of the songs are sung when a patriotic piece is required. The war's music also inspired music artists such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Elvis Presley.