American Civil War Songs

civil-war-songsThe American Civil War songs were vibrant in style, function, and feeling. Many of the marching songs and hymns are still recognized today for their impact on modern American music.

This page is based on the book The Civil War Songbook: Complete Original Sheet Music for 37 Songs written by Richard Crawford. In this book, Crawford lists some of the major events during the war and the famous pieces of music that historically accompanied those events.

It’s an excellent book. It really gives you a feel for what the soldiers, citizens, and bystanders were going through at this point in American history.

It truly captures the tragedy and emotions of the war. If you are a history buff, you will love this book.

Chorus & Songs of the Civil War

This list of Civil War songs is broken into several different categories laid out in Crawford’s book. Each present a different event, place, or feeling that people were going through during the Civil War. Here are the main categories.

Patriot Songs

SongSongwriterYear Written
The Battle Cry of FreedomGeorge Frederic Root1862
Battle Hymn of the RepublicJulia Ward Howe1862
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!The popular refrain1861
Dixie's Land (Dixie)Daniel Decatur Emmett1860
The Bonnie Blue FlagMrs. Annie Chambers-Ketchum
Henry (Harry) Macarthy
Maryland, My Marryland!James Ryder Randall1861
The Southrons' Chaunt of DefianceArmand Edward Blackmar1861

The Soldiering Life

SongSongwriterYear Written
We Are Coming Father Abra'amJames Sloan Gibbons, Luther Orlando Emerson1862
Marching Through GeorgiaHenry Clay Work1865
Who'll Save the Left?R. Tompkins, George Frederick Root1863
Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (or The Prisoner's Hope)George Frederick Root1864
Just Before the Battle, MotherGeorge Frederick Root1864
The Soldier's ReturnW. H. Morris, John Rogers Thomas1862
Tenting on the Old CampgroundWalter Kittredge1864
All Quiet Along the Potamac To-NightEthel Lynn Beers, John Hill Hewitt1863
The Grant Pill (or "Unconditional Surrender")Harriet L. Castle, James Cox Beckel1864
O I'm a Good Old RebelUnknownUnknown

Battlefield Deaths

SongSongwriterYear Written
The Children of the Battle FieldJames Gowdy Clark1864
Comrades, I Am Dying!Thomas Manahan, B. Sontag1864
The Drummer Boy of ShilohWilliam Shakespeare Hays1863
Little MajorHenry Clay Work1862
The Dying VolunteerG. Gumpert1861
Bear Gently, So Gently, the Roughly Made BierMrs. E. A. B. Mitchell, Chr. Mathias1864

Domestic Scenes

SongSongwriterYear Written
Can I Go Dearest Mother?Bernard Covert1862
Weeping, Sad and Lonely (or When This Cruel World Is Over)Charles Carrol Sawyer, Henry Tucker1862
O Come You from the Battle-Field?George Frederick Root1864
When Johnny Comes Marching HomePatrick Sarsfield Gilmore1863
The Vacant Chair (or We Shall Meet But We Shall Miss Him)George Frederick Root1862
Brave Boys Are They!Henry Clay Work1861
Mother Is the Battle Over?Benedict E. RoefsUnknown
Grafted into the ArmyHenry Clay Work1862
Jeff in PetticoatsGeorge Cooper, Henry Tucker1865

Emancipation Songs

SongSongwriterYear Written
The New Emancipation SongR. A. T., Mrs. Parkhurst1864
Glory! Glory! (or The Little Octoroon)George Frederick Root1866
Kingdom ComingHenry Clay Work1862
Sixty-Three Is the JubileeJ. L. Greene, D. A. French1863
We Are Coming from the Cotton FieldsJ. C---n, J. C. Wallace1864

Modern Adaptations

Although all of these songs were written before the modern guitar was invented, there is some evidence to suggest that soldiers and others utilized early versions of guitars and guitar-like instruments because they were easily transported from one camp to the next.

It was also common for the musician soldiers to give guitar training on these early instruments to other soldiers during their down time. Thus, while they waited for orders, were huddled around campfires, or just marches to the next battle, it’s entirely possible that someone in the regiment had an early version of a guitar that was used for some entertainment and a brief relief from the horrors of the day.

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