Civil War Music History and Songs

Taps by Charles Reed
(Hardtack & Coffee)
Music has always been an important part of American society and it was no different during the Civil War. Military bands were called upon to play at recruitment rallies and their patriotic marching tunes were sometimes a great incentive to inspire young men to enlist. When volunteer regiments were recruited, a regimental band was usually included as a part of that organization. The bands were needed to play for parades, formations, dress parades and evening concerts. Union and Confederate armies both authorized regimental bands. In the Union army, each artillery or infantry regiment could have one 24-member band and the cavalry was limited to a 16 member band. So many bands and the need for more disciplined organizations made officials in the Union War Department reconsider the regulations. In 1862, the Department ordered the dismissal of all brass ensembles that belonged to volunteer regiments. To replace discharged regimental bands, brigade bands were formed to serve the entire brigade of a division. Despite the order, some regimental officers were able to retain their bands. The musicians re-enlisted as combatants and were detailed by the colonel commanding the regiment into a regimental band.

Members of the 26th North Carolina Infantry Band
There were fewer Confederate bands because musicians were not quite as plentiful in the South and good instruments were expensive and very difficult to obtain. Quality brass instruments were rare because that metal was in short supply in the Confederacy and some of the best instrument makers were in the North. Like their Union counterparts, most Confederate bands were dismissed from service after the first year of the war though several organizations, including the 26th North Carolina Infantry, retained their bands and many southern officers were glad for it. Generals Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet were all serenaded by Confederate bands while in camp and they enjoyed the music very much. Most officers, including General Lee, felt that the music supplied by these surviving bands was very important to keep up the morale of the men. The bands that remained with the army often used music borrowed from Northern song books and used captured instruments in place of the inferior Confederate-made instruments. Some Confederate bands were better than others and not all bands sounded that good. One Confederate soldier regarded the playing of his regiment's band "comparable to the braying of a pack of mules..."

A Union drum
Each company in an infantry regiment had a musician who was usually a drummer. They were relied upon to play drum beats to call the soldiers into formation and for other events. Drums got the soldiers up in the morning, signaled them to report for morning roll call, sick call, and guard duty. Drummers also played at night to signal lights out or "taps". The most important use of drums was on the battlefield where they were used to communicate orders from the commanding officers and signal troop movement. Civil War drums were made of wood that had been cut into thin layers, steamed, and formed into a round shell. The outside of a Union drum was often painted and featured a large eagle displaying its wings with the stars and stripes flowing around it. Confederate drums were not quite as fancy, many just having a plain wood finish. The heads of the drum were made from calfskin and stretched tight by ropes.

A Union fifer
Drummers were often accompanied by a fifer. The fife was a high-pitched instrument, similar to a piccolo, and usually made of rosewood. This hollow wooden instrument was played by blowing wind over one hole and controlling the pitch with fingers placed over other holes along the length of the tube. Fancier fifes had brass fittings and engravings on them. Like drummers, the fifers were also part of the regiment's band who were detailed as musicians.

Not all drummers, fifers and bandsmen were allowed to go into battle. When fighting appeared imminent, musicians were often ordered to the rear to assist surgeons and care for the wounded. Some brigade bands did accompany their commanders onto the field and played patriotic songs while under the battle raged all around them. Can you imagine the type of courage it took to play your instrument while bullets and shells flew thick and fast all around you?

Cavalry regiments did not use drums and fifes. Instead, they used bugles to sound the different calls in camp and on the march. The bugler was considered a cavalry regiment's musician. Cavalrymen became so familiar with their own musician and his bugle calls, that they could often distinguish his calls from that of another regiment. Like the cavalry, artillery units also used bugles in camp and on the battlefield. One could tell who was camped where by the sounds of drums or bugles being played.

Soldiers in both armies had their own favorite songs to sing and listen to. Sometimes they sang while marching to keep up their spirits. Union soldiers liked patriotic and sentimental songs. The Battle Cry of Freedom was a Union favorite. Some other popular tunes were The Battle Hymn of the Republic, John Brown's Body, Just Before The Battle Mother, Dixie's Land, Tenting Tonight on the Old Camp Ground, The Vacant Chair, and Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!

Confederate Soldiers also had patriotic and romantic songs they enjoyed such as The Bonnie Blue Flag, Maryland, My Maryland, Lorena, and a southern version of The Battle Cry of Freedom

The "Battle of the Bands", Civil War Style

Union bandsmen

During the winter of 1862-1863, Union and Confederate armies were camped near each other at Fredericksburg, Virginia, separated only by the expanse of the Rappahannock River. One cold afternoon, a band in the Union camp struck up some patriotic tunes to cheer the men. They were answered from across the river by a Confederate band. The Union band played another tune followed by the Confederates who also did their best to play the same song. Back and forth the musical duel went well into the evening hours. Soldiers in both armies listened to the musical battle and would cheer for their own bands. The duel finally ended when both bands struck up the tune of "Home, Sweet Home". It was then that the men of both sides who were so far from their homes, cheered as one.


Do you know of any familiar songs today that were sung during the Civil War? How about Goober Peas and The Yellow Rose of Texas?

When Johnny Comes Marching Home was another popular song that is closely associated with the Civil War. These were among the many favorite songs sung by soldiers that are still popular.

Civil War Music CDs

Civil War MP3

Civil War Songbook
The Civil War Songbook
This collection of "War Between the States" music has been the standard one in the re-enacting circuit for many years now. The sheet music is published just as it was originally and it contains some of the best known classic songs.

Good Ol' Rebel
Recorded Song


Listen and Download MP3 Music Titles
The Civil War
The Civil War
Original Soundtrack Recording

  1. Drums of War
2. Oliver Wendell Holmes
3. Ashokan Farewel
4. Battle Cry of Freedom
5. We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder
6. Dixie / Bonnie Blue Flag
7. Cheer Boys Cheer
8. Angel Band
9. Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier
10. Lorena
11. Parade
12. Hail Columbia
13. Dixie
14. Kingdom Coming
15. Battle Hymn of the Republic
16. All Quiet on the Potomac
17. Flag of Columbia
18. Weeping Sad and Lonely
19. Yankee Doodle
20. Palmyra Schottische
21. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
22. Shenandoah John Colby
23. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
24. Marching through Georgia
25. Marching through Georgia
26. Battle Cry of Freedom
27. Battle Hymn of the Republic
28. Ashokan Farewell / Sullivan Ballou Letter

Songs of the Civil War MP3
Songs of the Civil War
  1. Ashokan Farewell
2. No More Auction Block For Me
3. Lincoln & Liberty
4. Dixie's land
5. The Southern Soldier Boy
6. Aura Lee
7. Rebel Soldier
8. Follow the Drinking Gourd
9. Battle Hymn of the Republic
10. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
11. Was My Brother In The Battle
12. Yellow Rose of Texas
13. Run Mourner, Run Sweet
14. Give Us A Flag
15. The Secesh (Shiloh)
16. Somebody's Darling
17. An Old Unreconstructed Rebel
18. Vacant Chair
19. Better Times Are Coming
20. Lorena
21. Marching Through Georgia
22. Hard Times Come Again No More
23. Oh I'm A Good Old Rebel
24. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
25. Taps
Civil War Collection MP3
The Civil War Collection
  1. Old 1812
2. Wagoner
3. Hog Eyed Man
4. Old Liza Jane
5. Colonel Crockett
6. Getting Out Of The Way Of The Federal
7. Gunboat
8. Stacked Tem Up In Piles
9. Rickett's Hornpipe
10. Scott's Return
11. Old Virginia
12. Old Dan Tucker
13. Speed The Plow
14. The 22nd Of February
Americus Brass Band MP3
Music of the Civil War
Americus Brass Band

  1. When the Cruel War is Over
2. Americus Quick Step
3. Fireman's Polka
4. Tenting on the Old Camp Ground
5. Dixie's Land
6. Battle Cry of Freedom
7. Exerpt from William Tell
8. Sumpter Light Guard march
9. Bonnie Eloise Quick Step
10. Amazing Grace
11. Glory Hallelujah Grand March
12. Scenes that are Brightest
13. Kazoodie Ko Whirl Overture
14. Woodman, Spare That Tree
15. Fireman's Quick Step
16. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
17. Civil War Folk Song Medley
18. Coronation March

Civil War Song Lyrics
Kids Zone Exhibits
American Civil War Exhibits
Women in the Civil War
Ships and Naval Battles
Civil War Picture Album
Recipes of the Civil War

American Civil War CDs
Songs of the Civil War
Tennessee Ernie Ford
1. Stonewall Jackson's Way
2. Lorena
3. Riding A Raid
4. Maryland, My Maryland
5. Goober Peas
6. I Can Whip The Scoundrel
7. Bonnie Blue Flag
8. Vailant Conscript
9. Rebel Soldier
10. Southern Wagon
11. Fight Of The Doodles
12. Dixie
13. Army Of The Free
14. Virginia's Bloody Soul
15. Marching Song (Of The First Arkansas Negro Regiment)
16. Why And The Wherefore
17. Vacant Chair
18. Fall Of Charleston
19. New York Volunteer
20. Faded Coat Of Blue
21. Marching Through Georgia
22. Just Before The Battle, Mother
23. Girl I Left Behind Me
24. Union Dixie
Civil War Classics
1. The Girl I Left Behind Me/Waiting for the Federals
2. Lorena
3. Cumberland Gap
4. Hard Times
5. The Yellow Rose of Texas
6. Tenting on the Old Camp Ground
7. Hard Crackers
8. Marching Through Georgia
9. Hit's of the 60's (Kingdom Coming/Battle Cry of Freedom/Dixie/Battle Hymn of the Republic)
10. The Faded Coat of Blue
11. President Lincoln's Hornpipe
12. Fisher's Hornpipe/Leather Britches/Bill Cheatham
13. Ashokan Farewell
Folk Songs of the Civil War
1. First Shot
2. Shiloh
3. Antietam
4. Stonewall's Brigade
5. Jeb's Black Horse Brigade
6. Gettysburg Recalled
7. V.M.I.'s Gallant Hour
8. Battle of Atlanta
9. Virginia's Heritage
10. Confederate Flag
11. Lee's Command
12. Appomattox
The Civil War
Traditional American Songs
1. Drums Of War - Old Bethpage Brass Band
2. Quote - Oliver Wendall Holmes
3. Ashokan Farewell - NA
4. The Battle Cry Of Freedom - NA
5. We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder - NA
6. Dixie/Bonnie Blue Flag - The New American Brass Band
7. Cheer Boys Cheer - The New American Brass Band
8. Angel Band - Russ Barenburg
9. Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier - Jacqueline Schwab
10. Lorena - Jay Ungar
11. Parade - The New American Brass Band
12. Hail Columbia - The New American Brass Band
13. Dixie - Bobby Horton
14. Kingdom Coming - Jay Ungar
15. Battle Hymn Of The Republic - Matt Glaser
16. All Quiet On The Potomic - Jacqueline Schwab
17. Flag Of Columbia - Jacqueline Schwab
18. Weeping Sad And Lonely - Jacqueline Schwab
19. Yankee Doodle - The Old Bethpage Brass Band
20. Palmyra Schottische - The New American Brass Band
21. When Johnny Comes Marching Home - The Old Bethpage Brass Band
22. Shenandoah - John Colby
23. When Johnny Comes Marching Home - M. Manson
24. Marching Through Georgia - J. Ungar
25. Marching Through Georgia(Lament) - Jacqueline Schwab
26. Battle Cry Of Freedom - Jacqueline Schwab
27. Battle Hymn Of The Republic
28. Ashokan Farewell/Sullivan Ballou Letter - Paul Roebling
Songs of the Union Army
Songs of the Union Army
  • 1. Battle Cry Of Freedom
  • 2. The Army Of The Free
  • 3. New York Volunteer
  • 4. May God Save The Union
  • 5. We'll Fight For Uncle Abe
  • 6. Pat Murphy Of The Irish Brigade
  • 7. Marching Along
  • 8. The Vacant Chair
  • 9. The Why And The Wherefore
  • 10. We Are Coming Father Abraham
  • 11. Grafted Into The Army
  • 12. Weeping, Sad And Lonely
  • 13. Kingdom Coming
  • 14. Take Your Gun And Go, John
  • 15. Tenting On The Old Camp Ground
  • 16. Good-bye Old Glory
  • 17. Battle Hymn Of The Republic

The Civil War
1. Prologue - Charlie Daniels
2. Brother, My Brother - Michael Scott Lanning
3. Lincoln: The Better Angels of Our Nature - James Garner
4. By the Sword/Sons of Dixie - Broadway All-Stars
5. Tell My Father - Kevin Sharp
6. My Name Is Frederick Douglass - Danny Glover
7. Freedom's Child - Hootie & the Blowfish
8. Missing You (My Bill) - Deana Carter
9. If Prayin' Were Horses - Michael Bell
10. Virginia - Gene Miller
11. Day the Sun Stood Still - Travis Tritt
12. Oh Be Joyful - Broadway All-Stars
13. Frederick Douglass: The Destiny of America - Danny Glover
14. Father How Long? - Michael Bell
15. Reprise: Brother, My Brother - Michael Scott Lanning
16. Nurse's Diary - Linda Eder
17. I Never Knew His Name - Linda Eder
18. Still I Rise - Maya Angelou
19. River Jordan - BeBe Winans

Young Reader Book Titles

Unconditional Surrender
U. S. Grant and the Civil War

This is the best juvenile biography on Ulysses S. Grant by a wide margin. Marrin has done an excellent job in introducing Grant to a young audience. I highly recommend it.

Civil War Weapons
Weapons and Strategies of the Civil War
For grades 3-6 which packs 48 pages with color photos and 30 links providing quality Internet sites for more research. Chapter notes, a bibliography and an index round out information and assure not just accuracy, but constant updates to research information.
Ballad of the Civil War young reader book
A Ballad of the Civil War
A wonderful chapter book for children that should help them to appreciate the fact that some people could not defend a person's right to own other people and to understand that sad era that ended in the "brothers' war." It has four chapters with a prologue and a closing author's note. The conversations that Tom has with the household slave "Uncle Roger" provide some unique insight into the dilemma that slaves faced in the antebellum South
Fields of Fury young reader book
Fields of Fury
The American Civil War

Written for young readers a stirring account of the greatest conflict to happen on our nation's soil, the Civil War, bringing to life the tragic struggle that divided not only a nation, but also friends and family. well-organized, well-executed, kid-friendly history of the Civil War was a brilliant idea if there ever was one. It's difficult to imagine anyone doing a better job than McPherson at breaking down this complex, interrelated series of events.
Underground Railroad
Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad
Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad is the retelling of a man's recollections of his first experience helping an escaped slave. The book brings the underground railroad down to the level primary students can comprehend. This book makes for wonderful discussions regarding overcoming one's fears, going against the norm and doing what you believe to be morally correct.
Kindle Available

The Glory Cloak: A Novel of Louisa May Alcott and Clara Barton
From childhood, Susan Gray and her cousin Louisa May Alcott have shared a safe, insular world of outdoor adventures and grand amateur theater -- a world that begins to evaporate with the outbreak of the Civil War. Frustrated with sewing uniforms and wrapping bandages, the two women journey to Washington, D.C.'s Union Hospital to volunteer as nurses.

Clara Barton Founder of the American Red Cross
Young Clara Barton is shy and lonely in her early days at boarding school. She is snubbed by the other girls because she doesn't know how to talk to them. But when she gets an opportunity to assist the local doctor, her shyness disappears, and Clara begins to discover her true calling as a nurse.
Kindle Available

Civil War Days: Discover the Past with Exciting Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes
Dozens of projects and activities that will take you back to the days of the American Civil War Travel back to 1862 and spend a year with the Wheelers, an African American family in New York City, and the Parkhursts, a white family in Charleston, South Carolina, Eleven-year-old Emily Parkhurst and twelve-year-old Timothy Wheeler are eager to share the fun, adventure, and hard work of their daily lives. Along the way, they'll show you how to play the games they play and make the toys and crafts they make.
Civil War Video Games
History Channel Secret Missions
History Channel Civil War
Secret Missions

There are about a half-dozen different small arms types, but the Henry is the best for rapid repeating fire and least reloading. The shotgun they give you is useless: you must aim spot-on to affect an enemy, so why not just use the rifle? Grenades are useful at times.
Age Of Rifles
Wargame Construction
Age of Rifles 1846 - 1905

Game lets you design and play turn-based strategic battles. You can create scenarios betwen years 1846 and 1905. You have complete control over all the units, and can customize their firepower, movement points, strength, aggressiveness, etc. Supports 1 or 2 players
Nation Divided
History Channel
Civil War A Nation Divided

Rally the troops and organize a counterattack -- Your strategic decision and talent as a commander will decide if the Union is preserved or if Dixie wins its independence
Sid Meiers
Sid Meier's Civil War Collection
Take command of either Confederate or Union troops and command them to attack from the trees, rally around the general, or do any number of other realistic military actions. The AI reacts to your commands as if it was a real Civil War general, and offers infinite replayability. The random-scenario generator provides endless variations on the battles
Civil War Nurse Barbie
Civil War Nurse Barbie

Part of the American Stories Collection.
Cavalry Sabre
Cavalry Saber
This fine replica is 39 inches overall and features a highly polished 33 inch carbon steel blade. Its leather wrapped handle fits the hand perfectly and sports decorative brass accents and a shiny brass pommel.
Civil War Revolver Pistol
Civil War Model 1851 Naval Pistol
Engraved Silver Tone / Gold Tone Finish and Wooden Grips - Replica of Revolver Used by Both USA / Union and CSA / Confederate Forces
Enfield Rifle
1860 Enfield Civil War Musketoon
This piece is a full-size non-firing reproduction of the rifle used in the Civil War. The body is made of European hardwood

National Park Service

Gettysburg National Military Park