The 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.
|The Battle Cry of Freedom||George Frederic Root||1862|
|Battle Hymn of the Republic||Julia Ward Howe||1862|
|Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!||The popular refrain||1861|
|Dixie's Land (Dixie)||Daniel Decatur Emmett||1860|
|The Bonnie Blue Flag||Mrs. Annie Chambers-Ketchum|
Henry (Harry) Macarthy
|Maryland, My Marryland!||James Ryder Randall||1861|
|The Southrons' Chaunt of Defiance||Armand Edward Blackmar||1861|
The Soldiering Life
|We Are Coming Father Abra'am||James Sloan Gibbons, Luther Orlando Emerson||1862|
|Marching Through Georgia||Henry Clay Work||1865|
|Who'll Save the Left?||R. Tompkins, George Frederick Root||1863|
|Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (or The Prisoner's Hope)||George Frederick Root||1864|
|Just Before the Battle, Mother||George Frederick Root||1864|
|The Soldier's Return||W. H. Morris, John Rogers Thomas||1862|
|Tenting on the Old Campground||Walter Kittredge||1864|
|All Quiet Along the Potamac To-Night||Ethel Lynn Beers, John Hill Hewitt||1863|
|The Grant Pill (or "Unconditional Surrender")||Harriet L. Castle, James Cox Beckel||1864|
|O I'm a Good Old Rebel||Unknown||Unknown|
|The Children of the Battle Field||James Gowdy Clark||1864|
|Comrades, I Am Dying!||Thomas Manahan, B. Sontag||1864|
|The Drummer Boy of Shiloh||William Shakespeare Hays||1863|
|Little Major||Henry Clay Work||1862|
|The Dying Volunteer||G. Gumpert||1861|
|Bear Gently, So Gently, the Roughly Made Bier||Mrs. E. A. B. Mitchell, Chr. Mathias||1864|
|Can I Go Dearest Mother?||Bernard Covert||1862|
|Weeping, Sad and Lonely (or When This Cruel World Is Over)||Charles Carrol Sawyer, Henry Tucker||1862|
|O Come You from the Battle-Field?||George Frederick Root||1864|
|When Johnny Comes Marching Home||Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore||1863|
|The Vacant Chair (or We Shall Meet But We Shall Miss Him)||George Frederick Root||1862|
|Brave Boys Are They!||Henry Clay Work||1861|
|Mother Is the Battle Over?||Benedict E. Roefs||Unknown|
|Grafted into the Army||Henry Clay Work||1862|
|Jeff in Petticoats||George Cooper, Henry Tucker||1865|
|The New Emancipation Song||R. A. T., Mrs. Parkhurst||1864|
|Glory! Glory! (or The Little Octoroon)||George Frederick Root||1866|
|Kingdom Coming||Henry Clay Work||1862|
|Sixty-Three Is the Jubilee||J. L. Greene, D. A. French||1863|
|We Are Coming from the Cotton Fields||J. C---n, J. C. Wallace||1864|
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.