Civil War songs

I checked out Amazon’s new mp3 downlaod deal and found a collection of CW songs that I used to have but lost ages ago.

Listening to them, it strikes me how many of them are really anti-war: Somebody’s Darling, The Vacant Chair, Tenting Tonight, Just Before the Battle, Mother, &c. were all sung by both sides. Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel, which mocked Lincoln’s trying one general after another to take the rebel capital was, of course a Yankee tune.
In the absence of radio, television and the internet sheet music was sold widely so songs did catch on nationally.
I wonder if the authorities worried about the effects of such lyrics on the war effort?

Also, no matter how biased we think the MSM is nowadays, newspapers back then were far more vicious, attacking Lincoln, senators, generals, &c. in terms that not even the Nat’l Enquirer would print today – and Jeff Davis wasn’t treated any better by the southern press.

They would also report troop movements, numbers of troops etc. Really got in the way of any surprise manoeuvres.

One of my favorite quotes is from William T. Sherman on reporters. He said if you killed all the reporters today there would be news from hell by morning! :smiley:

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, Get a copy of “The War Prayer” by Mark Twain. It was published posthumously since, as Twain said, only the dead can tell the truth.


I remember hearing that, at one point, the army wouldn’t let the soldiers sing “Lorena” because it made them too sad.

I don’t think the songs were anti-war as we understand the term today. Remember, this was the Victorian Age when there were a lot of sad, sentimental songs.

You might also be interested in music from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The music ranges from 1967-1885. This website has some interesting information:

We borrowed the cd from the library and it was fun to hear the songs that you read in the books. The liner notes are very informative and show that Mrs. Wilder was not just inserting songs at random. One example is the Blue Juniata. She places that song in Little House on the Prairie when the Indians are pow-wowing nearby. They are all very scared, but Pa plays this song which is about an indian maiden and love lost. Pa is saying, with a song (and Laura in her books by inserting that song), that the Indians are human beings too, not savages/animals. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the series.

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