Music In Wartime: Uses of Music During the Civil War

Many of America’s most popular and lasting songs were written in wartime. This music was used as a way to:

1. Express political sentiments.
2. Rally dispirited men who felt they couldn’t go on.
3. Comfort the homesick young men who were away from home for possibly the first time in their lives.
4. Console loved ones left at home.
5. Amuse the soldiers during the “downtime” of war.
6. Commemorate war heroes.
7. Accompany a young soldier to his final resting place after giving “the last full measure of devotion.

“The music of the Civil War was no exception. In this project, each of these seven uses of music is presented with an authentic period song and introductory narration. Songs include “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Dixie’s Land.” Information shared includes each song’s historical background, how certain songs were sung by both sides with different lyrics, and colorful characters of the period. The second part of this project is for 5th grade students to imagine what it would feel like to be on the front line of the Civil War – a soldier, drummer, nurse, etc. – and to write a “Long Letter Home” to loved ones using the songs as inspiration. This writing prompt reinforces Open Court reading of the Civil War. Mr. Cooper visits each 5th grade class twice and leads them in singing a total of 8 authentic Civil War songs. Classroom sessions are approximately 40 minutes in length. Students will receive lyric sheets for each song (songsters) which they can keep. The “Long Letter Home” portion will be assigned to be completed in school or at home. A daytime assembly for all 5th graders concludes the program at which time students share their “letters home” and sing the songs of the Civil War. All writings will be displayed in a central area of the school, if space is available.

Cost: $500 for one 4th grade class, $750 for 2 classes, $1,000 for 3 classes.


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