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Civil War Music Essay

773 words - 4 pages

Civil War Music
Music was a vital part of the war. The Civil War had also been referred to America's “great musical war.” There was a rank for musicians. They played at recruitment rallies and kept up the troops' morale. Their main job was to relay orders from higher ranking officers. The branches of the military determined which instrument made the calls. The drummer boys, fife players, buglers and the songs that they performed played a significant part in the war.
Drummer boys enlisted to serve in the infantry. These boys were usually eighteen years old, but younger boys sometimes faked their age to enlist. They learned to relay orders to help soldiers during battle by sounding a ...view middle of the document...

They had buglers instead. Buglers had similar jobs to drummers and fifers. They sounded calls often, from four to ten times each day. Before the war had begun, each branch of the military had their own set of calls. This caused a fair amount of confusion. By the end of the war, there was a definitive set of calls that were created to quash any confusion. These calls were played on bugles.
Musicians and their instruments were important, however their songs and lyrics reached to a higher emotional level. There are many songs that we consider either Union or Confederate, but the truth is that both sides used popular melodies with altered lyrics. Some songs were played to rally the troops, like “Battle Cry of Freedom.” The soldiers would sing lyrics like “The Union foever!” or if they were Confederates, “Our Dixie forever!” Lyrics like these moved soldiers into a inspired and fighting mood. Other songs like “The Yellow Rose of Texas” were sung in times of homesickness.There were also songs that described situations soldiers experienced, like “Goober Peas” which is a fun song about food shortages. In other words, soldiers wrote or sung songs to get through the hardships of war. Without music, soldiers would have had a difficult time coping...

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