Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War

Overview

Music was everywhere during the Civil War. Tunes could be heard ringing out from parlor pianos, thundering at political rallies, and setting the rhythms of military and domestic life. With literacy still limited, music was an important vehicle for communicating ideas about the war, and it had a lasting impact in the decades that followed. Drawing on an array of published and archival sources, Christian McWhirter analyzes the myriad ways music influenced popular culture in the years surrounding the war and ...
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Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War

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Overview

Music was everywhere during the Civil War. Tunes could be heard ringing out from parlor pianos, thundering at political rallies, and setting the rhythms of military and domestic life. With literacy still limited, music was an important vehicle for communicating ideas about the war, and it had a lasting impact in the decades that followed. Drawing on an array of published and archival sources, Christian McWhirter analyzes the myriad ways music influenced popular culture in the years surrounding the war and discusses its deep resonance for both whites and blacks, South and North.

Though published songs of the time have long been catalogued and appreciated, McWhirter is the first to explore what Americans actually said and did with these pieces. By gauging the popularity of the most prominent songs and examining how Americans used them, McWhirter returns music to its central place in American life during the nation's greatest crisis. The result is a portrait of a war fought to music.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Battles Hymns convincingly combines historical and musicological perspectives by illustrating the mutual enrichment of music and extramusical culture.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Contains fascinating, humorous, and little-known stories from the period." --Kansas History

General Robert E. Lee once stated: 'I don't see how we could have an army without music.' McWhirter has done as excellent job of opening our eyes and our ears to why this was so.--Indiana Magazine of History

McWhirter excels at tracing the history and popularity of a variety of songs from the 1860s.--Journal of Southern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469613673
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2014
  • Series: Civil War America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 809,143
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Christian McWhirter is assistant editor for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois.
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Table of Contents


Music was everywhere during the Civil War. Tunes could be heard ringing out from parlor pianos, thundering at political rallies, and setting the rhythms of military and domestic life. With literacy still limited, music was an important vehicle for communicating ideas about the war, and it had a lasting impact in the decades that followed. Drawing on an array of published and archival sources, Christian McWhirter analyzes the myriad ways music influenced popular culture in the years surrounding the war and discusses its deep resonance for both whites and blacks, South and North.
Read More Show Less

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