Civil War Era Music, Part I

by Matthew Young on July 29, 2008 · 7 comments

For almost fifteen years now, I have enjoyed listening to music of the period, or music written about Civil War events.  Nothing gets me going like a good fife & drum rendition of the Bonnie Blue Flag or Hell on the Wabash.  As a matter of fact, I have put them on my iPod and listen to it while mowing the yard.  It keeps me in step…I know, I’m a dork.  That being said, I have never seen a good list of available music from the period, and while the list and the review I will give here is by no means comprehensive, I will list a lot of the Civil War music that I like to listen to.

I divide my Civil War Themed Musical tastes into three different categories.  Field Music, Dance Music, and Soundtracks.  Field Music is things like Fife & Drum Corps and Regimental Brass Bands.  Dance music would be Saxhorn bands, string bands, and musical ensembles that include fiddles,  banjos, and guitars.  Finally, soundtracks speak for themselves- Music from Ken Burns series, and the movies Glory, Gettysburg, and Gods and Generals.  Let’s first examine some field music.

2nd Maryland Fife & Drum Corps

“It’s Those Marylanders Again!”
Field Music of the Civil War, Vol II.

This is one of my favorite compilations of Fife and Drum music out there.  There are a number of easily recognizable tunes on this disk, including the Yellow Rose of Texas, Hell on the Wabash, Old 1812, and their signature tune, Maryland my Maryland (which, as Jennifer points outs every time she hears it, is to the tune of Oh Tannenbaum).  I bought a copy in 1999 at the Resaca, Georgia reenactment and wore it out so I had to pick up another copy about two years ago.

Another one of my favorite Fife & Drum Corps recordings is from the Camp Chase Fife & Drum Corps.

I have not heard their Volume III, but their Volumes I & II are excellent and I recommend both of them.  They are a fine addition to any Civil War Music collections.  Besides Fife & Drum music, there are examples of other field music.  Another one of my favorite Field Music comes from a local band, the 8th Georgia Regimental Band.

This CD features 27 different songs of the period to include many favorites like Dixie, Gary Owen, Battle Cry of Freedom, and the Star Spangled Banner.  It is another one of my favorites for road trips and this is one of the most played CD’s at the National Civil War Naval Museum.  More Civil War Music Reviews in upcoming posts.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Freiheit July 29, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Brett,

Do you also listen to CW songs/ballads such as those by The 97th Regimental String Band?

Larry

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admin July 29, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Larry,

Matt Young actually posted this one. I’ll let him know you asked.

Brett

Reply

Matthew Young July 29, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Actually, I do listen to the 97th. I lump them in with “String Bands” which I will talk about in my next posting. I actually know those guys personally, and I can tell you they are a lot of fun to sing with and dance to.

Reply

Jim beeghley August 14, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Hi,

I can also recommend the 119th New York Fifes and Drums http://119nysv.org/Music.html

Reply

Marlene Ford June 19, 2009 at 7:07 am

I recently heard someone had researched the Civil War band music of the Southern states and arranged them for the standard brass quintet. Is this accurate? If so, I would appreciate any information.
Thanks,
Marlene Ford

Reply

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