Confederate General Robert E. Lee had once remarked that without music, there would have been no army.
In the years preceding the Civil War, singing schools and musical institutes operated in many parts of the country. Bands were popular forms of entertainment and pianos graced the parlors of many homes. Sales of sheet music were quite profitable for music publishing houses on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.
When soldiers from the North and the South went to war, they carried with them a love of song that transcended the political and philosophical divide between them. Music passed the time, entertained and comforted. It brought memories of home and family, and strengthened the bonds between comrades. And in the case of the confederacy, it helped create a sense of national identity and unity so necessary to a fledgling nation.
Songs of the Civil War covered every aspect of the conflict and every feeling about it. There were patriotic songs for each side; the North had Battle Cry of Freedom, and May God Save The Union, and the South God Save The South, and God Will Defend the Right.
After Robert E. Lee surrendered, to Abraham Lincoln, on one of the last days of his life, he asked a Northern band to play “Dixie” saying it had always been one of his favorite tunes. No one could miss the meaning of this gesture of reconciliation, expressed by music.
Source: Music of the 1860’s Patriotic Songs of the Era
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