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Civil War Songs

Updated on April 4, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

In researching my Civil War ancestor, I became fascinated by all aspects of that war. If you're a Civil War buff, check out my topics.

Union soldier playing the fife.
Union soldier playing the fife. | Source

Listen to the Songs the Soldiers Sang in the Civil War

In researching my great-great-grandfather's regiment (93rd Indiana Infantry, Company G) I saw they had two names on the list not as officers or enlisted men, but as musicians.

I was curious about what the musicians actually did and also what kinds of songs were popular in the Civil War. Listening to the tunes I found, I tried to imagine how my ancestor, Abraham Bates Tower, might have felt hearing these songs 150 years ago.

The graphic is "Fife Music" Original Art Postcard by CharlottesWebArt

Photo of Civil War Musicians - Available on several products at Zazzle

Source

Graphic on a mousepad from Zazzle shows Civil War Soldiers by WabiEagle.

Daniel Hull and Christopher Darius Gorman of the Wisconsin 8th Infantry Company B. Daniel was killed in Nashville and Christopher Darius was shot but survived. Click on the photo to learn more of the story about these two boys.

Vintage Photos of Civil War Musicians - Fifers, Drummers and Buglers on YouTube

Musicians provided music during the the Civil War. Fifers drummers and buglers provided the beat to everyday life of the soldier. Check out the National Civil War Field Music School at Pamplin Park http://www.nationalcivilwarfieldmusicschool.com/

A Book with Lyrics and Stories of Civil War Songs

Civil War Songs - The Lyrics And Stories Behind Some Of The Most Popular Songs Of The American Civil War
Civil War Songs - The Lyrics And Stories Behind Some Of The Most Popular Songs Of The American Civil War

Sure you could find most of these by searching around on the internet, but here they are conveniently gathered (lyrics and the story behind the songs) all in one book. You get the major songs from the Civil War (Dixie, The Bonnie Blue Flag, John Brown's Body, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Maryland My Maryland, We Are Coming Father Abraham, Tenting on the Old Camp Ground, Marching Through Georgia, All Quiet on the Potomac, and When Johnny Comes Marching Home).

 

Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground - Video from YouTube

The words reflect the melancholy feelings of the soldiers as they miss their families.

"Many are the hearts that are weary tonight, Waiting for the war to cease."

Lyrics for Civil War Songs - Links

If you want to learn the words so you can sing along, here are web sites with many songs of the north and south from the war.

Lorena - A Popular Love Ballad from the Civil War

Marching Through Georgia is a Union victory song from the Civil War

Civil War Songbooks

Learn the words to all the Civil War songs with this great selection of songbooks from that era.

Civil War Songbook
Civil War Songbook

This contains 57 songs from the Civil War era.

 

A Band Plays Civil War Tunes before the Reenactment of the Battle of Narcoosie

The band that played was called 7 Lbs of Bacon Mess Band. Their specialty is Civil War tunes so they played quite a few Stephen Foster songs and well-known songs of the 1860s. They played for a dance in the evening too.
The band that played was called 7 Lbs of Bacon Mess Band. Their specialty is Civil War tunes so they played quite a few Stephen Foster songs and well-known songs of the 1860s. They played for a dance in the evening too. | Source
The group plays for many reenactment events around Florida. You can hear some of their songs on YouTube. They have a Facebook page too.
The group plays for many reenactment events around Florida. You can hear some of their songs on YouTube. They have a Facebook page too. | Source
A member of the 7 Lbs of Bacon string band.
A member of the 7 Lbs of Bacon string band. | Source

Battle Hymn of the Republic and John Brown's Body - Popular Songs from the War

Source

Drum and Harmonica

The harmonica was small enough for a soldier to slip it into his backpack or pocket. I'll bet it brought cheer to his fellow soldiers as they sat around the campfire far from home.
The harmonica was small enough for a soldier to slip it into his backpack or pocket. I'll bet it brought cheer to his fellow soldiers as they sat around the campfire far from home. | Source

Civil War Sheet Music on eBay - Good luck with your bidding

These have great cover graphics and can be framed and displayed in your home or office.

Civil War Era Sheet Music

Photo taken at the Civil War Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
Photo taken at the Civil War Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. | Source
Sheet music that was popular in the 1860s. This is by Stephen Foster. Old Black Joe.
Sheet music that was popular in the 1860s. This is by Stephen Foster. Old Black Joe.
More Civil War era sheet music.
More Civil War era sheet music.

I Hope You Enjoyed Your Visit - and learned something new about Civil War songs

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    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 2 years ago from New York

      Neat topic. I collect old music and have as one of my prized possessions an illustrated book of Steven Foster's music, and even older...a 15th century (or older) parchment with Gregorian Chant on it. Thanks for sharing this interesting topic with us.

    • tempaline profile image

      Debra 3 years ago from Columbus, Ga

      I used to participate in civil war reenactments. I enjoyed the people. Your article is well done. I also had bates ancestors. 5 bates brothers died fighting in it.

      I am trying to get the hang of writing on here. Would you look at my profile and follow me?

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @Kim Milai: You might enjoy my blog on Researching My Civil War Ancestor. Look for it (Virginia Allain, Wordpress). I give tips on where to look up info.

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      Greatly enjoyed this article. Being a musician I love the resources here. When I did a Memorial day concert with my Kindergarteners, we did songs like 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' and for entering and exiting I played Ken Burton's Civil War soundtrack.

      That is so AWESOME about your great great grandfather. With family from Virginia, I have a couple relatives that fought in the Civil War but I only know their names. You've inspired me to dig in more.

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 4 years ago

      Very nice page about Civil War songs, so much history behind all these songs. :)

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 4 years ago from Liverpool, England

      It's sad that war and oppression produce so many of the most poignant/powerful songs - excellent page and collection here.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      Once again, a powerful lens to add to the flavor of the Civil War. The music was not incidental to the war, it was woven through every fiber. Great lens.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 6 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      Thanks for sharing. Author Sharyn McCrumb has some interesting observations on the role of Civil War musicians in her latest book "The Ballad of Tom Dooley." Very nice use of graphics in your layout...keeps readers moving along. Cheers!

    • profile image

      peppervel 6 years ago

      wow! one of the best lens I have read! Tks for sharing. I have always love looking at old pictures dating way back 100 years ago. Wondering what was life like then.. Those people in the pictures were very much alive then... going about their daily lives. 100 years from now... some other people might be thinking about the same thing looking at pictures dated 2011.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      A great idea and addition to your niche. The subjects you've picked are all fascinating...I've always been interested in the Civil War. Thanks for sharing.