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Civil War Music Analysis

September 11, 2013

Title of lesson:  Civil War Music Analysis

Author of lesson: Amy Payne

Grade level: 10th Grade

Resources: 

“Civil War Music History and Songs”. http://americancivilwar.com/Civil_War_Music/civil _war_music.html. Web. August 26, 2013

 

Matthews, Dave, A Nation’s Broken Soul: Songs of the American Civil War, Cd. 1994.

 

Lesson Summary:

 Students will read or listen to songs from the Civil War Era and analyze the following factors: who is speaking, who is the intended audience, if the song written from a Union or Confederate point of view and why, the author’s view of the war.

 

Common Core Standard in History/Social Studies:           

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.     

 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources

 

Key terms: N/A

                                                                                   

Historical Background: 

            The Civil War was a pivotal point in American History.  The war defined the issue of state rights versus federal power and determined whether the United States would remain a single country or become fragmented into two.  The war often divided friends and family on both sides of the fighting lines and both Union and Confederate supporters held similar beliefs that they were fighting for a just cause.

 

Anticipatory Set: 

            Open class with a teacher led discussion of the roles music can play in society.  Discuss how music often reflects what is going on in the culture and society at that time.  Offer contemporary perspectives and ask students to come up with examples of their own. Provide student with handout describing the use of music during the civil war and read aloud as a class.

           

Do Now Activity:

            Students will analyze songs from the Civil War Era.

 

Procedures:

  1. Have students complete the pre-test.
  2. Handout the Civil War Music Analysis Sheet and explain that the class will be reading/listening to songs written during the Civil War.  Go over the handout and discuss what details the students need to be looking for.
  3. Play or read the first song. Give students a couple of minutes to analyze the music and play or repeat if needed.
  4. Discuss aloud the answers students put down for Song #1 and encourage them to explain and justify their reasoning behind their answers.
  5. Repeat steps #3 and #4 for songs #2, #3, #4.
  6. Some songs may be hard for students to distinguish whether it is from a Union/Confederate point of view.  Use this to discuss the fact that both sides believed they were fighting “the good fight” for what was right.

 

Homework: None

Assessment: Students will take pre-test/post-test over information presented in the songs.

Extension:Have students compose a song from either a Union or Confederate viewpoint. You may also have students work individually/in pairs/or groups to create their own Civil War cd cover.  They should include a title, cover art, and song titles that are representative of the war period.

 


 

Civil War Music Analysis Sheet

While listening to the music, answer the following questions in complete sentences.

 

Song 1.

Who is telling the story in the song?_________________________________________________

Who is he/she talking to?_________________________________________________________

Can you tell if they are for the North or the South?_____________________________________

If so, which one?________________________________________________________________

How do they feel about the war?___________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

What evidence of this is provided in the song?________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

 

Song 2.

Who is telling the story in the song?_________________________________________________

Who is he/she talking to?_________________________________________________________

Can you tell if they are for the North or the South?_____________________________________

If so, which one?________________________________________________________________

How do they feel about the war?___________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

What evidence of this is provided in the song?________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

 

Song 3.

Who is telling the story in the song?_________________________________________________

Who is he/she talking to?_________________________________________________________

Can you tell if they are for the North or the South?_____________________________________

If so, which one?________________________________________________________________

How do they feel about the war?___________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

What evidence of this is provided in the song?________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

 

Song 4.

Who is telling the story in the song?_________________________________________________

Who is he/she talking to?_________________________________________________________

Can you tell if they are for the North or the South?_____________________________________

If so, which one?________________________________________________________________

How do they feel about the war?___________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________ What evidence of this is provided in the song?________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________


 

Song #1- Just Before the Battle Mother

 

Just before the battle, Mother, I am thinking most of you.
While upon the field we're watching, with the enemy in view.
Comrades brave are 'round me lying, filled with thoughts of home and God;
For well they know that on the morrow, some will sleep beneath the sod.

Farewell, Mother, you may never press me to your breast again;
But, oh, you'll not forget me, Mother, if I'm numbered with the slain.

Oh, I long to see you, Mother, and the loving ones at home,
But I'll never leave our banner till in honor I can come.
Tell the traitors all around you that their cruel words we know,
In every battle kill our soldiers by the help they give the foe.

Farewell, Mother, you may never press me to your breast again;
But, oh, you'll not forget me, Mother, if I'm numbered with the slain.

Hark! I hear the bugles sounding, 'tis the signal for the fight,
Now, may God protect us, Mother, as He ever does the right.
Hear "The Battle Cry of Freedom," how it swells upon the air,
Oh, yes, we'll rally 'round the standard, or we'll nobly perish there.

Farewell, Mother, you may never press me to your breast again;
But, oh, you'll not forget me, Mother, if I'm numbered with the slain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song #2- The Drummer Boy of Shiloh

The Drummer Boy of Shiloh

Music and lyrics by William Shakespeare Hays 

  1. On Shiloh's dark and bloody ground,
    The dead and wounded lay;
    Amongst them was a drummer boy
    , Who beat the drum that day.
    A wounded soldier help and him up--
    His drum was by his side;
    He clasp'd his hands, then he rais'd his eyes,
    And prayed before he died.
    He clasp'd his hands, then he rais'd his eyes,
    And prayed before he died.

    2. Look down upon the battle field,
    Oh, Thou our Heavenly Friend!
    Have mercy on our sinful souls!"
    The soldier's cried--"Amen."
    For gathered 'round a little group,
    Each brave men knelt and cried;
    They list'ned to the drummer boy,
    Who prayed before he died,
    They list'ned to the drummer boy,
    Who prayed before he died.

    3. "Oh, Mother," said the dying boy,
    "Look down from heaven on me,
    Receive me to thy fond embrace--
    Oh, take me home to thee.
    I've loved my country as my God;
    To serve them both I've tried,"
    He smiled, shook hands--death seized the boy
    Who prayed before he died.
    He smiled, shook hands--death seized the boy
    Who prayed before he died.


4. Each soldier wept, then, like a child--
Stout hearts were they, and brave;
The flag his winding--sheet--God's Book
The key unto his grave.
They wrote upon a simple board
These words; This is a guide
To those who'd mourn the drummer boy
Who prayed before he died.
To those who'd mourn the drummer boy
Who prayed before he died.

5. Ye angels 'round the Throne of Grace,
Look down upon the braves,
Who fought and died on Shiloh's plain,
Now slumb'ring in their graves!
How many homes made desolate--
How many hearts have sighed--
How many, like that drummer boy,
Who prayed before they died!
How many, like that drummer boy,
Who prayed before they died!

 

 

 

Song #3- When Johnny Comes Marching Home

 

When Johnny comes marching home again,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we’ll all feel gay,
When Johnny comes marching home.

The old church bell will peal with joy
Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way,
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

Get ready for the Jubilee,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give the hero three times three,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

Song #4-

 

My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night (1853)
Words & music by Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)

1.
The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
'Tis summer, the darkies are gay,
The corn top's ripe and the meadows in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright:
By'n by Hard Times comes a knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky Home, good night!

CHORUS
Weep no more, my lady,
Oh! weep no more to-day!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky Home,
For the old Kentucky Home far away.

2.
They hunt no more for possum and the coon
On the meadow, the hill, and the shore,
They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
On the bench by the old cabin door.
The day goes by like a shadow o're the heart,
With sorrow where all was delight:
The time has come when the darkies have to part,
Then my old Kentucky Home, good-night!

(CHORUS)

3.
The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the darkey may go:
A few more days, and the trouble all will end
In the field where the sugar-canes grow.
A few more days for to tote the weary load,
No matter, 'twill never be light,
A few more days till we totter on the road,
Then my old Kentucky Home, good-night!

(CHORUS)

Song #5-

 

Bob Roebuck is my sweetheart's name,

He's off to the wars and gone,

He's fighting for his Nanny dear,

His sword is buckled on,

He's fighting for his own true love.

His foes he does defy,

He is the darling of my heart,

My Southern soldier boy.

 

Yo ho! Yo ho! Yo ho ho ho ho ho ho

He is my only joy

He is the darling of my heart,

My Southern Soldier Boy

 

When Bob comes home from war's alarms,

We'll start anew in life,

I'll give myself right up to him,

A dutiful, loving wife.

I'll try my best to please my dear,

For he is my only joy,

He is the darling of my heart,

My Southern soldier boy.

 

 

Oh, if in battle he was slain,

I am sure that I should die,

But I am sure he'll come again

And cheer my weeping eye.

But should he fall in this our glorious cause,

He still would be my joy,

For many a sweetheart mourns the loss

Of a Southern soldier boy.

 

I hope for the best, and so do all

Whose hopes are in the field,

I know that we shall win the day,

For Southrons never yield.

And when we think of those that are away,

We'll look above for joy,

And I'm mighty glad that my Bobby is

A Southern soldier boy.

 

 


 

Handout

 

  Civil War Music History       and Songs

 

 
                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                             

 . 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.

 
                                                                                                                           

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..."

 
                                                                                                                   

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.

 
                                                                                                                           

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

 

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.

 


 

Name:____________________________________           Date:_____________________

 

Pretest/Post test

 

True/False

 

_____1.  Music has always been an important part of American society and it was no different during the Civil War.

 

_____2.  There were fewer Union bands because musicians were not quite as plentiful in the North and good instruments were expensive and very difficult to obtain.

 

_____3. Some songs, such as The Battle Cry of Freedom, were considered patriotic and symbolic by both Confederate and Union troops.

 

_____4.  Music lyrics from the Civil War era always represented society’s views of the war.

 

_____5. It can often be hard to distinguish whether music lyrics from the Civil War era were written from a Confederate or Union viewpoint and the lyrics can often be interpreted from either view.

 

_____6. It was common for both Confederate and Union troops to have regimental or brigade bands.

 

____7.  Drums and bugles were used to sound the different calls in camp and on the march.

 

____8. Regimental band members always accompanied troops on the battlefield playing patriotic songs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretest/Post test answer key

 

True/False

 

_T__1.  Music has always been an important part of American society and it was no different during the Civil War.

 

_F__2.  There were fewer Union bands because musicians were not quite as plentiful in the North and good instruments were expensive and very difficult to obtain.

 

__T__3. Some songs, such as The Battle Cry of Freedom, were considered patriotic and symbolic by both Confederate and Union troops.

 

__F__4.  Music lyrics from the Civil War era always represented society’s views of the war.

 

__T__5. It can often be hard to distinguish whether music lyrics from the Civil War era were written from a Confederate or Union viewpoint and the lyrics can often be interpreted from either view.

 

__T__6. It was common for both Confederate and Union troops to have regimental or brigade bands.

 

__T_7.  Drums and bugles were used to sound the different calls in camp and on the march.

 

_F_8. Regimental band members always accompanied troops on the battlefield playing patriotic songs.

 

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