Music of the 1860’s: Patriotic Songs of the Era

Confederate General Robert E. Lee once remarked that without music, there would have been no army. A New York Herald reporter wrote, "All history proves that music is as indispensable to warfare as money; and money has been called the sinews of war. Music is the soul of Mars...."

Scholar Kenneth A. Bernard calls the War Between the States a musical war. In the years leading up to the war, concerts were popular forms of entertainment and many families owned pianos. Sales of sheet music were immensely profitable for music publishing houses on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

When soldiers on both sides marched off to war, they took with them a love of music. Music entertained and comforted them; it brought back memories of home; it strengthened the bonds between comrades. In the case of the Confederacy, music helped create the sense of national identity and unity so necessary to a new nation.

By Bernard's count, "...during the first year [of the war] alone, an estimated two thousand compositions were produced, and by the end of the war more music had been created, played, and sung than during all our other wars combined. More of the music of the era has endured than from any other period in our history."

Source: Music of the 1860’s: Patriotic Songs of the Era
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