Today, we bring you the second part of Lance Herdegen’s two-part piece about the music of the Iron Brigade, which was not only one of the most famous fighting units in the Army of the Potomac but whose members also happened to have a particular ear for music. “Any veteran memory of the long marching columns evoked faint echoes of the soldiers singing or the tooting of the brass bands,” Lance wrote in part one.
During the long march or short, said Loyd Grayson Harris, an officer with the 6th Wisconsin, when the bands ceased playing, a chorus of voices would lift from the columns. The Prairie du Chien boys especially liked to sing:
O never mind the weather, but get over double trouble,
For we are bound for the happy land of Canaan.
Then the Juneau County boys, despite “the religious warnings” of pious Rufus Dawes, would add:
My name it is Joe Bower
I have a brother Ike,
I came from old Missouri
Just all the way from Pike.
After several verses of “Joe Bower,” the company would conclude with the sequel where “Sally had a baby, and the baby had red hair.” Continue reading
We’re pleased today to bring you part one of a two-part piece from guest poster Lance Herdegen, author of The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory.
The Iron Brigade in the old Army of the Potomac made its own music. Any veteran memory of the long marching columns evoked faint echoes of the soldiers singing or the tooting of the brass bands. Sometimes it was the stern song about abolitionist John Brown and other times more scandalous airs such the one about an unexpected baby “that had red hair.” The brass bands that played them away from home so long ago performed in the morning formations and evening tattoos as well as during inspections and reviews. The Western men of the Iron Brigade sang as they marched to Gettysburg and the brigade band played “Hail, Columbia” and stirring marches as the Black Hats charged toward Seminary Ridge. In camp, soldiers gathered to sing in groups and even alone. Music was much a part of soldier life those first years of the war and the young men played violins, harmonics, and other instruments for their comrades. “How often on the long weary march,” one officer wrote later, “when it seemed as if our sore and tried limbs almost refused to go on—it was then the full swelling notes from a good band rallied us from the roadside ‘into line,’ flag unfurled, muskets at a right shoulder shift, gleaming in the bright sun, and the regiment appeared infused with new life and energy as they jauntingly marched along.” Continue reading
At the intersection of the Chambersburg Pike and Reynolds Avenue stands a tall white stone slab with a figure in relief on its face. He faces away from the town, looking towards the Confederate line. It is in plain sight but also hard to get to (and to get pictures of) because it is right next to the busy intersection. Many Civil War monuments have statues or figures of soldiers in their design. Sometimes these are symbolic, representing the soldiers en mass, and sometimes they are meant to be a single person, as is the case with the monument to the 143rd Pennsylvania.
143 Pennsylvania Monument
Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Emerging Civil War, Memory, Monuments
Tagged 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry, A.P. Hill, Ben Crippen, Chambersburg Pike, Gettysburg, Gettysburg Monuments, Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg National Cemetery, Reynolds Avenue
Major General John Schofield
This year marks the 150th Anniversaries of some of the Civil War’s most iconic engagements. The sesquicentennial of Chancellorsville and Stonewall Jackson’s death has just passed, while the Vicksburg and Gettysburg commemorations are in the future, followed by Chickamauga. Yet focusing on any one event over others obscures some of the key historical currents that run through this period of the war.
The 7-month period that started May 1, 1863 saw events and blood-lettings unlike any previous time-frame in American history. At the end of November, the United States had a better feel for how victory (and the resulting new Union) would be defined. Continue reading
Posted in Campaigns, Memory, Sesquicentennial
Tagged Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Chickamauga, Battle of Gettysburg, Chattanooga, Chris Kolakowski, George Washington, Gettysburg, Henry Slocum, Jefferson Davis, John Parke, Knoxville, Otto von Bismarck, Philip Sheridan, Port Hudson, Siege of Chattanooga, Siege of Knoxville, Siege of Vicksburg, Stonewall Jackson, Tullahoma, Ulysses S. Grant, Vicksburg
As the victorious Union army began to muster out at the close of the war, veterans now faced the task of assimilating back into civilian life. But what of the weapons they faithfully carried?
On May 29, 1865, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant wrote Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, “I understand that great numbers of soldiers going out of service are very desirous of retaining their arms by paying for them. As the government has now a great surplus of arms I would suggest that an order be published authorizing all soldiers who desire to do so to retain their arms by paying the value to the Ordnance Department, or by having them charged on their muster-out rolls.” The department determined the following prices: muskets – $6, Spencer carbines – $10, all other carbines – $8. Continue reading
A lesser known part of the Chancellorsville campaign is the battle that swirled around Salem Church on May 3rd and 4th, 1863. Continue reading
Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Emerging Civil War, National Park Service, Photography, Sesquicentennial
Tagged Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Salem Church, Chancellorsville, Logothetis-Photos, Photography, Salem Church
Guest-poster Caroline Davis is wrapping up an internship at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Now that the dust has settled from the Chancellorsville sesquicentennial, we asked her to reflect on what she learned from the commemoration. Because her work this year has allowed her to dip into the park’s archives, she pulled together some interesting parallels between this year’s events and those from the Centennial fifty years earlier….
The 150th commemoration of Chancellorsville has been stirring up excitement at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County National Military Park over the past two weeks. A similar event takes place every five years or so, but until now the largest celebration was the 100th anniversary. During the opening ceremony on the first of May, 2013, John Hennessey pointed out that we are no longer celebrating but rather commemorating the events that happened here. Back in 1963, the anniversary was viewed as celebratory; but today, rather than host parades and grand spectacles, we turn to more solemn thoughts and actions. “We are a remembering people,” said Hennessey. How we choose to remember, though, has changed significantly. Continue reading
Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Civil War Events, Memory, National Park Service, Sesquicentennial
Tagged Bud Robertson, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, FRSP, FSNMP, James Robertson, John Hennessy, Sesquicentennial