1 March 2014
From Sea to Shining Sea
During my time in this class, I have learned a great deal about events or people in American History. While we have been studying The Civil War the last couple weeks, I became very interested in the culture of that time period. More specifically, I became interested in what type of music Americans listened to, during The Civil War specifically. Naturally, since I am a singer as well as a musician, I am very passionate about music. This is partly why I became so curious about the music world of the Civil War time period.
After doing some research, I have come to find out that many songs during the Civil War, acted as anthems for either the Confederates of the Union. WHAT? Who knew music could have political influence?!
Civil War Confederate songs helped to understand why Southern men enlisted to fight the North. The 1860 census reveals that a mere 4.8% of Southern whites owned slaves. Many were yeomen farmers without slaves. Only in Mississippi and South Carolina did the percentage of slaves in the overall population exceed 50%. Historian James McPherson’s book, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, analyzes letters, diaries, and other written documents and concludes that many men joined the Cause as a nationalistic endeavor rather than fighting strictly for slavery. The songs of the Confederate South corroborate this theory.
“We are a band of brothers, And native to the soil; Fighting for our liberty, With Treasure blood and toil…” So begins Harry McCarthy’s 1861 tune, Bonnie Blue Flag, destined to become the second anthem of the Confederate States, behind the popular Dixie. Song lyrics reveal the mindset of average soldiers as they marched or spent days encamped, awaiting battle. Historian Richard Hartwell refers to them as, “tuneful symbols of Southern nationalism.” David Eicher writes that, “among the most significant ways in which soldiers...