Above: A collage of images from the Civil War era. (Left, Flag of the Confederate States and uniforms, Right, Lincoln raising the 34 star flag in 1861 & Union uniforms.
Songs from the American Civil War Era, 1861 - 1865
I think that starting with this one will give you some idea of the value and scope of the Marshall/Morrow collection. The cover of this sheet is actually "sideways" to the music as the artwork encompasses a wide, landscape view. The art is of all the Union Generals at the start of the war. Some most famous such as McDowell, McClellan and Burnside and others less remembered such as Wool, Blenker and Banks. In total, 27 officers visages are depicted. However, only twenty five are named in the caption. They are (left to right); Butler, Wool, McCall, Rosecrans, McCook, Anderson, McDowell, Sickles, Blenker, McClellan, Scott, Hunter, Sigel, Sprague, Prentiss, Mansfield, Tyler, Burnside, Banks, Fremont, Lander, Heintzelmann, Dix, Curtis and Stone.
The lithography is attributed to Crow, Thomas & Company in New York (37 Park Row) and represents some of the finest art ever depicted on sheet music. The art is in the style of the great Currier & Ives prints from that period. Though the thumbnail image above gives some idea of the quality, a larger size view of the cover reveals just how beautiful this cover is.
The music is a typical march of the period, nothing particularly special about it but it is pleasant and has a nice melody. The music gallops along and fits the cover image quite well with all the generals on their trusty steeds. The center section begins with a "bugle call" and then slips in to a momentary quiet moment, then a more bold passage and back to the quiet passage. The overall tone of the work is bright and jaunty. Of course, as we entered the Civil War, as with most wars, the attitude was positive and that the war would soon end so much of the music was bright, almost happy and positive in nature. As we'll see later, reality set in, tragedies abounded and the tone of the music changed quite dramatically.
Claudio S. Grafulla (1810-1880) was a composer in the United States during the 19th Century, most noted for martial music for regimental bands during the early days of the American Civil War. Grafulla was born in 1810 on Minorca, a Spanish island off the coast of Spain. At the age of 28, he emigrated to the United States, where he became a French horn player in Napier Lothian's New York Brass Band in New York City. This band was attached to the 7th Regiment of the New York National Guard, which was honored in 1922 by John Philip Sousa's The Gallant Seventh march. In 1860, he added woodwinds to a reorganized band and continued to serve as its director (without pay) until his death in 1880.
A quiet, unassuming man who never married, his whole life centered around his music. His remarkable technical and musical skills allowed him to become well known as a composer, often writing music on order, and as an arranger. The hallmark Port Royal Band Books were composed and arranged for the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment Band, when it was formed for service during the Civil War. As a director of the 7th Regiment Band, his fame spread widely.
In 1861Grafulla composed Washington Greys for the 8th Regiment, New York State Militia. This work has been called a march masterpiece, a band classic, and the prototype of the concert march. Showing the stylistic influence of both German and Italian marches, the march has a marvelous balance of technique and melody in a continuous flow of musical ideas. (From Wikipedia)
Hear this fabulous march piece(Scorch format, be patient, very large file size)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics to this melody)
Early in the war, the people on both sides celebrated the romance and excitement of the war. Optimism was the rule and victory was a foregone conclusion for each. Many of the songs and marches written during the war were dedicated to or written to celebrate luminaries and this work was one of the earliest.
Dedicated to Major Robert Anderson "The Dutiful Defender of Fort Sumter and the brave one hundred gallantly sharing his immortal glory," the march was obviously a celebration of the battle of Fort Sumter and her defenders. Major Robert Anderson, a pro-slavery Kentuckian, remained loyal to the Union. He was the commanding officer of Fort Sumter at Charleston Harbor in Charleston, South Carolina, when at the time it was bombarded by forces of the Confederate States of America. The artillery attack was commanded by Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard, who had been Anderson's student at West Point. The attack began April 12, 1861, and continued until Anderson, badly outnumbered and outgunned, surrendered the fort on April 14. The battle began the American Civil War. No one was killed in the battle on either side, but one Union soldier, Daniel Hough, was killed during a 100-gun salute. Anderson's actions at Fort Sumter made him an immediate national hero. He was promoted to brigadier general. Anderson took the fort's 33-star flag with him to New York City, where he participated in a patriotic rally that is thought to have been the largest public gathering in North America up to that time. (Anderson information source, Wikipedia)
The music is a simple, not a particularly great march. It's value lies more in what it represents and it's important place in Civil War era music.
Bertrand J. H. (Joseph Hubert) Hoffacker (1828 - 1892) Bertrand Joseph Hubert Hoffacker, born in Cologne, Germany in 1828 and was later known as Joseph, Bertrand, or BJ. He was the oldest of at least eight children. While still in Cologne, he became a "Baumeister" or master carpenter. He was an active member of the Social-Democrat Party in Prussia and perhaps the Party's defeat in 1848 led to Bertrand's departure for America. He married Louise Dietz in Cologne, and shortly thereafter, they emigrated to the U.S. arriving in New York in November of 1851.
Bertrand was a great admirier of William Cullen Bryant, the poet and editor of the New York Evening Post. He dedicated some of his musical compositions to WC Bryant and set some of Bryant's poems to music. I don't know whether they ever met, but they definitely corresponded. Some of my distant cousins have the original letters that Bryant wrote to Bertrand. At Bertrand's request, Mr. Bryant wrote a letter of introduction for him to meet President Lincoln dated December 10, 1863:
“To Mr. Lincoln,
Mr. Bertrand J. Hoffacker of this city being about to visit Washington has desired from me a letter to you which I give him with great pleasure. Mr. Hoffacker is the author of the words and music of a composition entitled the “National Union Hymn” which has been received with great acceptance and sung in public and private circles. He is a man of the most fervent loyalty which he has taken more than one occasion to express in spiritual airs and harmonies. Mr. Hoffacker’s means of subsistence are not affluent and he and his friends would be gratified if he were allowed to serve the country in some of its numerous posts.
Unfortunately, we do not know whether Bertrand ever actually met with the President. Among Bertrand's musical compositions aref: Anderson March 1861, The National Hymn 1861, The Centennial Presentation Hymn 1876, When He Told me that he Loved Me 1882 and Electric Age March 1883.
In 1918, Bertrand's son Bernhard rearranged, renamed and republished some of his pieces. The National Hymn became Peace Forever. The Centennial Presentation Hymn became The Stars and Stripes. Also republished in 1918 were Victory Call, New National Hymn, and Welcome Brave Boys.
Bertrand is believed to have written The National Hymn of 1861 as part of a contest for a new national hymn soon after the Civil War started. The total prize was $500: $250 each to the composer and lyricist. A committee of prominent New Yorkers was formed to review the twelve-hundred submissions that were received. In the end, they didn’t choose any of the submissions and awarded no prize money! The committee didn’t find any of the pieces suitable! Bertrand must have been terribly disappointed.
In addition to his music, Bertrand wrote a play in German (published in 1864) called Enthüllung, oder Rot, Weiss und Schwarz. Ein Trauerspiel in 5 Aufzügen. A tragedy in 5 acts. A copy of the play in the NY Public Library at http://catnyp.nypl.org/record=b4767392.
Hoffacker died in 1892 in New York City.
Hear this march dedicated to Anderson ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this melody)
In contrast to the joy of the victorious defense of Fort Sumter, it was not at all long before tragedy struck. Elmer E. Ellsworth, born near Saratoga Springs, N. Y., left home and went to New York City at an early age. He then moved to Chicago, Ill., where he worked as a law clerk, became interested in military science, and joined Chicago's National Guard Cadets. Made colonel of the group, Ellsworth infused the unit with his enthusiasm. He introduced his men to the flashy Zouave uniforms and drill that emulated French colonial troops in Algeria and turned the group, renamed the U.S. Zouave Cadets, into a national champion drill team. In the summer of 1860, the unit performed hundreds of quick, flashy movements with their muskets and bayonets for awed audiences in 20 cities.
This sheet is yet another example of the beautiful color lithographs of the period. The image of Ellsworth is a very accurate depiction of him, probably taken from a photograph.
Given the fame of the composer and his usual compositions, this piece represents a departure from the norm. As a funeral march, the work takes on a much more somber tone and pace. It conveys the sadness and loss that was felt for Ellsworth. At the same time it has a somewhat stately and ceremonious feel. It is also slightly more melodious than some of the other marches we've featured in this article.
Septimus Winner (1827 - 1902)
Winner was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the seventh child to Joseph E. Winner (an instrument maker specializing in violins) and wife Mary Ann. Mary Ann Winner was a relative of Nathaniel Hawthorne, hence Septimus' use of the Hawthorne name as part of his pseudonym Alice Hawthorne. He also used other pseudonyms during his career, including Mark Mason, Percy Guyer, and Paul Stenton.
Winner attended Philadelphia Central High School. Although largely self-taught in the area of music, he did take lessons from Leopold Meignen around 1853, but by that time he was already an established instrumental teacher, and performed locally with various ensembles.
From around 1845 to 1854, Septimus Winner partnered with his brother Joseph Eastburn Winner (1837 - 1918) as music publishers. Septimus continued in the business with various partners and names up until 1902.
Winner was especially popular for his ballads published under the pseudonym of Alice Hawthorne, which became known generically as "Hawthorne's Ballads". His brother was also a composer, publishing under the alias Eastburn. Septimus Winner was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.
In addition to composing popular songs, Winner also produced more than 200 instruction method books for more than twenty-three instruments. He wrote more than 1,500 easy arrangements for various instruments and almost 2,000 arrangements for violin and piano. The most popular Septimus Winner songs include:"How Sweet Are the Roses" (1850), "I Set My Heart Upon a Flower" (1854), "What Is Home Without a Mother" (1854), "Listen to the Mockingbird" (Scorch version) (1855), "Abraham's Daughter" or "Raw Recruits" (1861), "Der Deitcher's Dog" (1864), "Ellie Rhee" or "Carry Me Back to Tennessee" (1865), "What Care I?" (1866), "Whispering Hope" (1868), "Ten Little Indians" (originally "Ten Little Niggers") (1868), "Come Where the Woodbine Twineth" (1870) and "Love Once Gone Is Lost Forever" (1870) (From Wikipedia)
Listen to and watch the score ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in, long load time)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this work)
As the war progressed into 1862, optimism still ruled but clouds were on the horizon and the reality of what would be America's bloodiest war was beginning to take hold. Narratives of the war and songs that still romanticized the war were more often seen than the somber, more pessimistic music that would follow. This song, one of the more well known and more frequently seen songs from the war was a huge hit and enjoyed a great deal of popularity. This song is an example of one that could have just as well applied to either side of the conflict. The lyrics are non specific as to the side, only specific to the fears, apprehension and plight of the foot soldier about to face death.
The music is certainly a cut above some that we've already looked at with a great melody and a wonderful chorus for four voices. Most songs of this period did end with a chorus for several voices which allowed the entire family or a group of friends to all participate in the making of music in the parlor. The melody is simple yet very pleasant and not at all in the mood one might expect for a song of war. It is a gentle tune that conveys the tenderness of the message to a mother. I think you'll see why it was so popular.
An interesting notation appears on one page regarding the mention of the song Battle Cry Of Freedom in the lyrics. The note at the bottom of the page explains; "In some of the divisions of our army, the 'Battle-Cry' is sung when going into action, by order of the commanding officer."
George F. Root (1820 - 1895) Root was born in Sheffield, Mass. The son of a farmer and as the eldest of eight children he had little early opportunity to cultivate his musical talent. He studied later under George Webb in Boston and in 1839 became assistant teacher in the music school of A. N. Johnson, and organist in that city. Root also became Johnson's partner and assistant organist at the Winter Street and Park Street churches. In 1844 he moved to New York and became organist at the Presbyterian Church at Mercer Street, known as the "church of the strangers." He also took jobs as teacher of singing in various schools there. Around this time he married Mary Olive Woodman a church and concert singer.
In 1850, Root went to Paris for a year to study and on his return began to compose music. His early works and a few later ones were published under the pseudonym "Wurzel," the German word for root. His first song, Hazel Dell was a success and his cantata, The Flower Queen produced in 1881 was quite successful as well. For several years he devoted time to composing, occasionally conducting musical conventions. One convention brought him in contact with Lowell Mason and in 1852 Root originated a summer normal school of music in New York City. The faculty included Lason, William Bradbury and Thomas Hastings.
About 1860 he removed to Chicago and there became head partner in the music publishing firm of Root & Cady which realized quick financial results from the sale of Root's popular songs and collections. The firm sustained heavy losses in the fire of 1871 and soon afterward was dissolved. Mr. Root continued to live in Chicago where he composed, edited works and conducted conventions as before. In 1881 he received his degree of Doctor of Music and in 1886 visited Europe a second time. He died in his summer home on Baily Island near the Maine coast.
Many of Root's productions were immensely popular in their day, especially the songs belonging to the time of the Civil War. While they do not belong to the classics, they are at least superior to the majority of the popular songs of the present day in purity of sentiment.
Aside from his songs, Root also wrote a number of cantata, quartets, church music music curricula, and instruction books for piano and organ. Among his most popular songs are; Battle Cry of Freedom; Just Before The Battle; Tramp, Tramp, Tramp; The Vacant Chair; A Hundred Years Ago; Hazel Dell and Just After The Battle. In case you are wondering about some of the odd sentence constructions and word usage in this biography, it is taken from a 1908 music encyclopedia. Root was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970
Hear and see the score to this sweet song (Scorch format, be patient for images to load)
Despite a darkening outlook and grimness, some composers still managed to find some humor in the music about the war. This song by the famous Henry Work, was one such song and became quite popular during the war and for many years after. In the context of the war, after this year there was little to nothing to laugh about and in our collection, songs with a humorous slant on the war virtually cease to exist in the years 1863 and beyond save perhaps a few exceptions.
The cover of the music (better viewed in the scorch played version, click the cover image or link below) is humorous in its own right. A complex lithograph the upper cell is of a mother holding a pair of boy's pants with the lyric line, "and these are the trousies he use (sic) to wear." The bottom cell is of a bundled up soldier with the lyric line; "A picket beside the contended field. The title on the music is so ornate, it is almost unreadable
.The music is pleasant and simple. You will notice that with most of the songs from this period the melody and accompaniment are fairly simple. Much of that may be due to the proficiency of the target audience however all seem to have a fairly standard accompaniment line or two. Either the left hand plays octaves on alternate beats or a simple chord is played on the second and subsequent beats of each measure. The chorus of this song is quite nice to my ear and though simple, I think you can see why it was popular. As with many hit songs, as a friend of mine says, it leaves you with an ear worm.
Henry Clay Work was born in 1832 in Middletown, CT and died in 1884 in Hartford. His family moved to Illinois when he was still a child and he was educated there. The family later returned to Connecticut and young Henry was apprenticed to a printer. He studied music and wrote verse on his own and soon began to write songs, both the music and lyrics. He was inspired by the Civil War to write Marching Through Georgia, Wake, Babylon is Falling and other songs of the war that became popular. During the 1870's he wrote a number of temperance songs that were popular. He also was known for sentimental songs such as The Ship That Never Returned and wrote the famous, My Grandfather's Clock (1876, his last successful song). A man of many talents, Work was also an inventor and patented a rotary engine, a knitting machine and a walking doll. He lost his personal fortune by investing in a fruit farm that failed and lived in New York before returning to Connecticut before his death.
His primary publishing associations were with Root and Cady and Cody. An interesting anecdote about his printer background is that he often composed by typesetting the music as he composed and completely bypassed the usual steps of a hand manuscript or even trying his music on the piano first! Considered a first rate melodist and his songs had a nearly universal appeal. Though his song Come Home Father is somber, and he was an intense supporter of causes, Work also had a playful side and his 1862, Grafted Into The Army was and still is a funny song and it has continued in the repertoire for over 100 years. Much of his music stands on its own against that of Stephen Foster and though less well known today, Work is probably one of only a few of the truly original American popular song composers to invent American popular music style and who influenced the following generations of songwriters.
Listen and view this humorous war song! ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Now the war weariness begins to come through in the music of America's civil war. Subtitled, "when this cruel war is over," the inscriptions states; "Inscribed to Sorrowing Hearts at Home." The cover also mentions that it was "Sung by Wood's Minstrels, Broadway, N.Y." Though we often associate, minstrels of this period with black face routines and happy dances, minstrel groups were primarily musicians and performers who presented an array of styles of music to entertain the audience. Much like the later vaudeville of the early 20th century, minstrels were traveling variety shows. As such, the songs presented covered the range of themes in popular song of the day. Wood's minstrels were associated with Christy's minstrels for some time, known at that time as Christy and Wood's Minstrels.
The music is very much in the style of a tender ballad. The chorus is really quite beautiful, the harmony is very nice. How wonderful it must have been to have played and sung these great songs at home! The song has four separate verses which can be seen on the last page of the Scorch version. One web site states that the song was sung by both Union and Confederates. Certainly the pain and loss of the war was equally felt by both sides and this is another song that could apply to either side.
Henry Tucker (1826 - 1882) Not much is known about Tucker however one web site (pdmusic.org) states that he sang bass in the choir of St. John's Chapel on Varick Street, New York City in 1861. During 1850 to 1882 he wrote approximately 121 songs and one cantata, Joseph in Egypt, in 1870. His most popular songs were Weeping Sad and Lonely, or, When This Cruel War Is Over (1863), Jeff in Petticoats (1865), and Sweet Genevieve (1869).
Charles Carroll Sawyer (1833 - ca. 1890) Sawyer's involvement in music was an unlikely happenstance as he was the son of sea captain and shipbuilder (Joshua Sawyer) in Mystic Connecticut. In 1845 at age twelve he moved to New York City and very little is known of his activities there besides being a lyricist for Weeping Sad and Lonely, and a few other patriotic and war related songs such as Shake Hands With Uncle Sam (1866) and He Was Not Afraid to Die (1864). Sawyers exact death date is unknown to me at this time. A 1908 reference book simply states he died "after 1890."
Listen to this song of lament ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
By 1864 it was crystal clear to Americans that this would be a painful and long war. The optimism by now is long gone and casualties had reached epic proportions. The previous year, Gettysburg cost us 51,000 casualties, the largest single battle total of the war. The battles of Spotsylvania and the Wilderness in May of 1864 cost nearly 53,000 casualties and were among the top ten most costly battles of the war. As a follow up to his "Before the Battle" song seen above, Root wrote and published this piece which writes a grim final chapter to the pair. Root and his publisher used the very same cover as the first song, only changing the title thus making the two a matched pair.
The music is very similar to the first song of the pair but the lyrics quite different of course. The lyrics speak to the ferocity of battle and the carnage and the protagonist falls in the battle awaiting hope of aid by dawn. As he suffers in pain the song ends with a ray of hope in his belief that he will soon be saved, healed and sent home to see his mother once again. Though grim and quite descriptive, at least the song offered a small ray of hope to those with loved ones on the front lines that despite wounds, their loved one might survive.
See the entry for "Before the Battle" for information on the composer, George F. Root
Listen to this great old Civil War song (Scorch plug-in)
During the darkest days of the war when the outcome was now in doubt, many people may have believed that the Confederacy could destroy the Union and a new America would emerge. Patriotism and God were still important and many songs spoke to both patriotism and in the case of this one, provided a prayer to save the Union and end the war.
The music starts as a very majestic march the accompaniment makes liberal use of triplets to accent the melody. At the same time, the music has a somewhat hymn like quality, most especially noticeable in the chorus. The chorus is unique in that the initial melody is sung by soprano then echoed by the chorus of Alto, Tenor & Bass. The lyrics are somewhat interesting in that the author refers to "Sparta's noble band" (Referring to the stand of 300 Spartans against the invading Persians at Thermopylae in 480 BC) as a role model for how the Union shall stand against the Confederacy.
I was unable to find any information about Charles D. H. Martin however did discover information about his lyricist.
Bungay, George W. (George Washington), (1818-1892) Born in Walsingham, England, he immigrated with his family to the United States in 1827 at age nine. Bungay was a poet, journalist, biographer, and anti-slavery and temperance reformer. In 1855 he established a brief-lived newspaper in Ilion, New York. His reform politics were reflected in The Independent’s motto, "Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing." Following the newspaper’s financial failure the following year, Bungay joined the editorial staff of Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, the best-known and most influential newspaper in the United States of that day. There Bungay acquired a reputation as a reform writer and worked with such famed writers as George Ripley, Charles A. Dana, Fanny Fern, Bayard Taylor, Whitelaw Reid and many others. He also enjoyed a successful career as a lyricist for Stephen Collins Foster (Better Times Are Coming) and John Payne (Home, Sweet Home), the most popular American composers of the 19th century. His poetical works include Acrostics and Miscellaneous Poems (1837) and the epic poem Nebraska (1854), which chronicles the introduction of slavery in that state. (from allpoetry.com) Some of Bungay's books are still in print (reprints). Among his other books are, Temperance anecdotes. Original and selected (1874); Crayon Sketches And Off-Hand Takings Of Distinguished American Statesmen, Orators, Divines, Essayists, Editors, Poets, And Philanthropists (1854)
Listen to and watch the music play (Scorch plug-in)
By 1864, the cause of abolition of slavery was one that the Union had taken under their wing and many northerners were assisting in many ways to help slaves escape slavery. In my own home town, across the street from my high school at the edge of Lake Erie there is a home that was a northern terminus for the "underground railway.". The Hubbard house is still preserved there as an historic place. It was said that hundreds of slaves passed through Ashtabula to the lake's edge where they were transported to Canada.
By this time also the Emancipation Proclamation was announced (1863) black recruitment was pursued in earnest. Volunteers from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Massachusetts filled the first authorized black regiments. Recruitment was slow until black leaders such as Frederick Douglass encouraged black men to become soldiers to ensure eventual full citizenship. (Two of Douglass's own sons contributed to the war effort.) Volunteers began to respond, and in May 1863 the Government established the Bureau of Colored Troops to manage the burgeoning numbers of black soldiers. (above paragraph from "Black Soldiers in the Civil War" at the National Archives.)
Despite the inclusion of black soldiers, prejudices and stereotypes ruled and many people believed that blacks had neither the aptitude nor skills to effectively soldier in a combat situation. The movie Glory (1989 and one of my all time favorites) depicted the plight of the black soldier and how these attitudes affected them. Of course in the end it also showed how brave, intelligent and ferocious fighters they really were.
As we've seen in several of our other features, American music for the most part encouraged the stereotypes and wrong thinking about American of African origin and did nothing to dispel the wrong beliefs that were widely held by whites. A few composers did try to present a positive view and Mrs. E. A. Parkhurst gave it her best try with this song. With a jolly melody and some provocative lyrics, Mrs. Parkhurst and Kidder used cleverly some of the stereotypes to dispel them. Unfortunately, in using "black dialect" for the lyrics, they blunted the effectiveness. However, it is likely and unfortunate that given the times, many people would not have accepted a "proper English" set of lyrics as coming from the blacks of the era. The song is lively, melodic and has a great chorus, it is one of the best in this issue.
Mrs. E. A. (Susan) Parkhurst (1836-1918) Mrs. Parkhurst had a long career as a composer of almost every style of song popular during the mid 19th century. Widowed in 1864, she made a good living for herself and her family composing and performing. She wrote songs from gospel, temperance, Sunday school songs and patriotic and we have many songs by her from the period in our collection. Her music was written in the style of the most popular composers of the period such as Foster and was a huge success. She most likely is the most prolific and important woman composer of the period. Unfortunately, because she was a woman, her legacy has failed to reach the recognition or praise of the likes of Foster. Though she wrote in the period style, her music cannot in any way be viewed as "copycat.' She showed a great deal of creativity both musically and in subject and was exceptionally well known at the time. Besides songs, she also wrote piano works such as a set of variations on the tune Yankee Doodle. Among her many songs written during the war, a number were written the same year as Dey Said We Wouldn't Fight including; Our Dear New England Boys (1864);Richmond Is Ours (1864), The Soldier's Dying Farewell (1864) and No Slave Beneath That Starry Flag (1864). After the war she continued to espouse the black people's cause with songs such as The Freedman's Lament (1866).
I was less successful in finding information about Mrs. Kidder other than titles of other songs by her. From those titles, it seems she may have been most successful in writing songs of faith.
Listen to and watch the music play ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
All the while the War was going on, to make matters worse, a Presidential election was being conducted. Demonstrating her versatility, Mrs. Parkhurst (obviously a loyal Lincoln supporter) wrote a campaign song extolling the virtues of Lincoln the candidate and his vice president, Andrew Johnson. Written with an alternating solo and chorus, the song is not only a call to elect the Republican pair but also a celebration of the Union and the Lincoln - Johnson "fight for liberty and right." The lyrics also manage to point out that they are "tried and true" as leaders. Of course they won handily as America was not in the mood for a change of leadership during those critical times.
The music at first struck me as somewhat dark and somber but as it progresses the tone moves to a brighter sound. The lyrics shown in our Scorch version are only one of four verses that cover the virtues of Lincoln and his mate. Freedom, the plight of slaves, the war, the flag and conquering the foe are all wrapped around the candidates with gusto.
I cannot determine if the John Adams who wrote the lyrics was in any way related to THE John Adams (1735 - 1826), the second president of the U.S.
Listen to and watch the music play ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
When I first saw this title, I immediately thought of the 1897 Charles K. Harris song, Break the News to Mother. I can't help believe that Harris was inspired by this song. Interestingly, many people today incorrectly associate Harris' song with the Civil War but this is the "original" in regards to the idea of a dying soldier telling someone to let their mother know of their passing. The origins of this song according to the song sheet itself is based on a supposed event that took place in a Federal prisoner of war camp. The story on the sheet music is as follows:
"An Officer captured at the Battle of Bull Run relates the following incident. 'After our capture, I observed a Federal prisoner tenderly cared for by a Rebel Soldier, I gleaned from their conversation, that they were brothers: The brave boy, while battling for the Union, received his death wound from his own brother, at that time a private in the rebel ranks; never shall I forget the look of utter despair depicted upon that rebels face, the dying boy, with a smile of holy resignation, clasp his brother's hand, spoke of their Father, who was fighting of the dear old Flag, of Mother, of Home, of childhood, then requesting his brother to "write a letter to Mother" and imploring him never to divulge the secret of his death. The young Hero yielded up his life.'"
I've not been able to find any corroboration that the story is actually true or one that was made up for the purposes of the song. The story above is sad, the songs sentimental and even sadder. Such were the songs of this era and the way of the people. Much of this may seem almost laughable given today's social environment but we must admire the very deep heartfelt emotions of the American people on both sides of the fray during an event that rent this country in two.
The music is also quite sentimental but is a beautiful melody with the typical simple melody and accompaniment style of the times. The composer varies the left hand accompaniment quite a bit to give the song more interest. The chorus is very interesting as well. Through the use of some staccato phrases and emphasis, the chorus is actually in contrast to the more flowing and sweet melody of the verses. I think this is one of the best songs in this feature.
Aside from some additional song titles credited to Bowers & Isaacs, I've been unable to find any biographical information on either of them. It seems they did write some other songs together including; Brothers Fainting at the Door (1863). Isaacs wrote several other songs with other lyricists including; How Long the Hours Seem Love (1863) and The Aristocratic Nigger (1857)
Listen to and watch the music play (Scorch plug-in)
As spring of 1865 came Sherman's march to the sea which had begun in November, 1864 and back to Virginia in early April, 1865 demonstrated that the Confederacy was essentially defeated and the war would soon end. In fact, on April 9, Lee surrendered his army to U. S. Grant thus beginning the end this terrible chapter of America's history. Only a few days later, April 14, barely having had time to savor the initial victory, President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth while attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater. Over the next few weeks, the remaining Confederate armies surrendered and the war was completely over by the end of May.
Lincoln's assassination shocked the nation and the composers of America wrote many songs and funeral marches to pay tribute to the fallen president. As the final chapter of this article, we present you with three of them. This first offering is exemplar of many of the sad songs written that year. Marked "Tempo di marcia funebre" (funeral march tempo) is a slow lament that is actually quite touching and conveys the sadness and pain of the loss of one of America's greatest presidents. The lyrics are quite chilling in some respects, especially the final warning given in the chorus:
Listen to and watch the music play (Scorch plug-in)
Mrs. Parkhurst of course would be expected to write a musical tribute to the fallen president and she did so with this excellent march. Without lyrics, it is an instrumental piece that needs no words to express the sorrow and depth of feelings that most everyone (except perhaps hard-core Confederates) felt towards the loss of Lincoln. Marked Gravemento it is indeed a piece that conveys the gravity and enormity of the loss. Musically, this is another of the best in this article and I find it to be an outstanding work. The opening grave is followed by a brighter, plaintive section that to me conveys the greatness of Lincoln and his life. Parkhurst returns to the initial grave to bridge to a dark and forceful passage that literally cries out in pain. She then returns us to the brighter passage, this time marked "with expression." The piece ends with the initial grave passage, played at a slower pace as a slow march to end both the piece and Lincoln's life.
I personally think this piece is one of Parkhurst's best and it is definitely in a style very different from her songs. It is to me, a masterpiece of composition for an occasion such as Lincoln's funeral. I've been unable to actually determine what music was played at Lincoln's funeral or during the procession. One source makes reference to a "solemn march" being played but no title beyond that is given. Perhaps some well informed reader or historian can answer the question.
Listen to and watch the music play (Scorch plug-in)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics to this piece)
Among the many musical tributes to Lincoln there were several with illustrated covers including his portrait. Many of these song covers were very ornate and displayed the engraver and lithographers art with a high degree of quality. Our last piece for this article is one of those more striking covers. In our Scorch version, we've also included the back page as it is unique as well, depicting a tombstone "In memory of Abraham Lincoln."
Written fully for chorus of voices with piano accompaniment, it is absolutely stunning. Here is a case where the inside of a sheet in every way matches or exceeds the expectations the cover conveys. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover! The chorus is a beautiful hymn to the lost president and surely it ranks among the greatest of songs written for the occasion. It is an expressive, grand and soaring piece. In this case, I believe we have saved the very best for last!
Toll! toll! toll! on every hand, on every hand,
Listen to and watch the music play (Scorch plug-in)
This article published October, 2008 and is Copyright © 2008 by Richard A. Reublin and The Parlor Songs Academy Text, images or music may not be reproduced in part or in total without express written permission of the author or an officer of the corporation. Though the songs published on this site are often in the Public Domain, MIDI renditions are protected by copyright as recorded performances.
Thanks for visiting us and be sure to come back again next month to see our new feature or to read some or all of our over 130 articles about America's music. See our resources page for a complete bibliography of our own library resources used to research this and other articles in our series.
If you'd like to contribute an article to us at Parlor Songs, we'd love to have your help and contribution. The "rules" for submissions can be found here, we'd love to have submissions by any of our readers, anytime and would enjoy having a "reader submission" or "favorites" feature from time to time. Heck, get involved, help us out and write a feature for us!
If you would like to submit an article about America's music for us to publish, go to our submissions page for information about writing articles for us. We also welcome suggestions for subjects for future articles.
Please Help Us Continue our Efforts with a donation. The Parlor Songs Academy. is a Tennessee unincorporated association. Donations go towards the aquisition of additional music, preservation of music, equipment and educational efforts. If you like what we do, please help us out. Donation funds are used entirely for the operating expenses of Parlor Songs and/or aquisition of additional music or equipment.
We realize that there are those who prefer not to transact financial matters on the Internet. If you would like to donate or make a purchase by check, email us for mailing information.
A great deal of work and effort has gone into these pages. The concept, design, images, written text and performance (MIDI and other recordings) of these works, the web pages, custom images and original content are Copyright © 1997-2021 by Richard A. Reublin or Richard G. Beil. Before using any of these images, text or performances (MIDI or other recordings), please read our usage policy for standard permissions and those requiring special attention. Thanks.