Music history of the United States during the Civil War era

The music history of the United States during the Civil War was an important period in the development of American music. During the Civil War, when soldiers from across the country commingled, the multifarious strands of American music began to crossfertilize each other, a process that was aided by the burgeoning railroad industry and other technological developments that made travel and communication easier. Army units included individuals from across the country, and they rapidly traded tunes, instruments and techniques. The songs that arose from this fusion were "the first American folk music with discernible features that can be considered unique to America" . The war was an impetus for the creation of many songs that became and remained wildly popular; the songs were aroused by "all the varied passions (that the Civil War inspired)" and "echoed and re-echoed" every aspect of the war. John Tasker Howard has claimed that the songs from this era "could be arranged in proper sequence to form an actual history of the conflicts; its events, its principal characters, and the ideals and principles of the opposing sides" .

In addition to, and in conjunction with, popular songs with patriotic fervor, the Civil War era also produced a great body of brass band pieces, from both the North and the South , as well as other military musical traditions like the bugle call "Taps".



  • Abel, E. Lawrence (2000). Singing the New Nation: How Music Shaped the Confederacy, 1861 - 1865. First Edition, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0228-6.
  • Clarke, Donald (1995). The Rise and Fall of Popular Music. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-11573-3.
  • Ewen, David (1957). Panorama of American Popular Music. Prentice Hall.
  • Band Music From the Civil War Era. Library of Congress. Retrieved on June 13., 2005.
  • Struble, John Warthen (1995). The History of American Classical Music. Facts on File, Inc. ISBN 081602927X.


  1. Struble, pg. xvii
  2. Howard, John Tasker, cited in Ewen, pg. 19 (no specific source given)
  3. Library of Congress: Band Music from the Civil War Era
  4. Ewen, pg. 21
  5. Ewen, pg. 25
  6. Clarke, pg. 21
  7. Clarke, pg. 23
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