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
"Recommended. Lower - and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; professionals; general readers."—Choice

"An extensive, descriptive account of music during the American Civil War."—Journal of American History

"Much more than a treat for lovers of good history writing and a fresh look at well-trodden fields, it is also a painful reminder of just how divided a nation we were at birth, and how those divisions live with us still."—Huffington Post Arts & Culture

"A detailed and thorough account invaluable to students of the Civil War and American cultural history."—The North Carolina Historical Review

"[An] enjoyable, fun to read book. . . . A unique necessary history for our libraries."—TOCWOC: A Civil War Blog

"Exceptionally well researched and engagingly written, Battle Hymns is a welcome addition to a growing scholarship on popular culture in the Civil War era. . . . [It] will profit scholars who work on popular culture in nineteenth-century America, U

"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

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

"An extremely valuable addition to the canon of Civil War history."—Southern Historian

"This excellent book will stand as the definitive study on the subject for many years to come."—Society of Civil War Historians Newsletter

"McWhirter's deft and entertaining use of anecdotal material to support his arguments will appeal to a wide audience."—Tennessee Libraries

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807835500
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/19/2012
  • Series: Civil War America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Christian McWhirter is an assistant editor for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
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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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