View Full Version : Civil War Tunes

Mar-30-2004, 7:49pm
The whole Civil War reenactment thing I don't quite get. I mean, I've been to Gettysburg and was absolutely fascinated, drawn in to the whole experience. But the fighting- it doesn't grab me.
There must have been musicians in every camp, around every campfire. THAT'S what thrills me. I listen to the recordings of those tunes and wonder- are the civil war reenactment groups of just musicians doing those songs at these get togethers?
After reading the previous post regarding period songs from that era, I got to wondering. The whole reenactment thing seems to be much more prevalent in the South. I live up North, but am so interested in this great old part of our history.
Any comments?

Mar-30-2004, 9:47pm
My parents reenact the French and Indian War. I don't get it either. All the good musicians must be pretending to be a couple of centuries later, because they sure aren't in every camp at those things!! There are a pile of guys that try at it, but mostly it is about drinking, and muzzle loaders.

Mar-31-2004, 7:12am
A brass instrument design used during the Civil War were the saxhorns (http://www2.mackey.miyazaki.miyazaki.jp/MusicRoom/saxhorn/images/OTS-Saxhorn.jpg).
These featured a bell that pointed backward over the player's shoulder.
This innovative design meant that in order for the troops to hear the band music, the musicians marched into battle first.
This greatly reduced the life expectancy of the band members.
I don't think I would've wanted to be in a Civil War brass band (http://www2.mackey.miyazaki.miyazaki.jp/MusicRoom/saxhorn/images/CornetBand.jpg).
It must've been really strange to play a concert facing away from the audience.

Mar-31-2004, 9:15am
My sister lives in Gettysburg so I go there somewhat often. There is a large market of goods for reenactors, but nothing much in the musical line. I have found one or two CD's of civil war era music. There is one person who I know makes an authentic period instrument, but it is s banjo. If anyone is interested, the link is:
Minstrel Boy Banjos (http://www.minstrelboybanjo.com/)

Mar-31-2004, 11:31am
I play with a small group that plays music from that era. In our rural county, central Virginia, we have an active historical society who are recreating a small village using the last of the log cabins, tobacco barns, schoolhouses, and hog pens they can rescue from area landowners. Once a year, the tiny little village springs to life as people dressed in 1850's garb bring their 1800's wares to display. We get to provide the musical backdrop as visitors wander the grounds, visit with the settlers, and buy home and hand made goods.

Although we are not re-enacting the civil war, or a battle of that war, certainly we play much music from that period. I assume there are muscians who love the battle re-enactments and have developed a repertoire that they play each year.

We also have a Batteau Race here in Central Virginia on the James River. Contestants build a batteau, launch below Lynchburg, Va, and spend 5 days reaching Richmond, Va. Each night, they stop in a river town, where that town has a small festival which usually features music from the same period.

I don't go for the battle stuff, but love keeping the traditional music alive the best we can.


Mar-31-2004, 1:24pm
Gary, check out The 2nd South Carolina String Band (http://www.civilwarband.com/music.shtml) for Civil War era music.

Apr-06-2004, 2:05pm
The group Father, Son and Friends has been active on the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 circuit for a number of years. # They are singlehandedly responsible for my interest in playing mandolin. They do mostly Scottish and Irish stuff and truly add a lot of flavor to a historic event. #Their website is listed below.