Monday, May 19, 2014

Civil War Songs

Confederate & Yankee Folk Music

Folk songs are songs in which the music and text have been handed down by oral tradition among the people of a specific geographic area. Themes usually revolve around three primary motifs: love of self, god and country.

In the library of American folk songs are the tunes of the Civil War. This battle lasted for four long years, and during these years, numerous songs and ballads were composed. From its inception - when Confederate warships bombarded Union soldiers in South Carolina on  April 12, 1861 to the final battle fought in Texas the Spring of 1865 - soldiers caroled about being brave and about patriotism for the side they were fighting for.

Fifers accompanied drummers and human voices did the rest. The songs sung during that time belong to several different categories, including inspirational marching songs to boost morale, traditional negro spirituals, songs about home and for those at home, songs about loved ones away at war. 
Interestingly, drumbeats were originally used to tell soldiers what to do and to help keep them instep. The shrill sound of the fife could easily be heard above most, but not all battlefield sounds.

Buglers, too, were important because they sounded out commands, like morning reveille, night time taps, and advance and retreat.
Many, but not all of the ballads and songs have been written down and/or recorded. Partially because folk music has been around a lot longer than documenting them has been. 

Here are some examples we found on Youtube:

I’m A Good Ol’ Rebel
Civil War Songs
The Rebel Yell of Civil War Veterans

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