"Music was a basic element in everyday life for the soldiers. The sentimental songs, for the most part, were sung by civilians. Soldiers usually preferred the rousing marching songs, humorous songs, protest songs, and parodies that sprang spontaneously from army life. Both sides loved to sing Stephen Foster's songs." - from Civil War Songs with historical narration by Keith and Rusty McNeil
In Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas, Alice writes to her sister Lizzie about her husband Charlie marching off to war: "The folks here gave our boys a first-rate send-off. This is the biggest regiment raised in the vicinity, and the town did the boys proud. Charlie and the other recruits marched off grand. People drove in from farms and ran from the shops and stood in the road bareheaded, shouting hurrahs as the soldier boys marched smartly along. The church bells rang, and a brass band led the parade, blasting out the 'Battle Cry of Freedom.' Little children threw flowers, ladies waved their handkerchiefs, and gents who'd climbed on top of the bandstand in the square cried out, 'Union forever!'" - Alice's Tulips, pp. 2-3
The song "The Battle Cry of Freedom" rivaled the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in popularity in the North. An American composer, George Frederick Root, wrote the song in 1862. It was played at nearly every Union rally throughout the war. If you'd like to hear the song, click here. George Root also wrote a song that Mother Bullock would have loved called "Just Before the Battle, Mother." You can hear it here.
The #1 song in the South was "Dixie's Land," written in 1859 by Dan Emmett. You can see and hear a Civil War re-enactment version here. Dan Emmett also wrote "The Blue Tail Fly" and "Old Dan Tucker." The second most popular song in the South was "The Bonnie Blue Flag." Listen to it here.
On page 28 of Alice's Tulips, Alice writes to her sister Lizzie that Mother Bullock is "always talking about hard times coming, as the song says." Stephen Foster wrote "Hard Times (Come Again No More), which was published in 1854 as a parlor song under the title Foster's Melodies No. 28. You can listen to a beautiful version of it here.
And finally, here are Burl Ives and Johnny Cash singing Goober Peas!
Do you have a favorite song from the Civil War era? Inquiring minds want to know! Answer in the comments section below. If you are reading via email, click on the title of the blog post so you can comment and read the comments of others.
By commenting, you are also entering your name in a giveaway of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. The winner will be announced June 1.
You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.