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American Military Bands up to the Civil War Era - Essay Example

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American Military Bands up to the Civil War Era

Both the Union and Confederate soldiers often engaged in recreation with songs and musical instruments. Indeed whereas songs and music that were played on the battlefields were usually intended to boost the morale of the soldiers, those that were played at night or at leisure were meant for recreation. Music as the Embodiments of Cultures and Political Ideals Both the Union and the Confederate soldiers had their own favorite music and tunes that were harmonious with their political and cultural ideals. Yet some music was enjoyed by both parties alike. One of these commonly cherished music and songs was the "I Wish I Was in Dixie" or "Dixie's Land". Though during the Civil War the song was the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy, it became commonly popular across the United States because of its unique dealings with the black people’s slavery in the country. The music won the heart of the pro-slavery southerners by its pictorial quality of presenting the black people as lazy, ignorant, superstitious, buffoonish, joyous, and musical; but for the same reason for the Northerners’ the “Dixie” was a marvelous example of proslavery culture of the Old South, offensive to a free American Identity (Silber 97). Official Approval of Military Bands Appreciating the inspirational value of music in wars, the War Department of the United States officially allocated a brass band of 24 members for every infantry and artillery regiment, and a band of 16 members for the cavalry regiments. The Confederate Army also had at least two musicians for each regiment. A survey shows that during the Civil War, about seventy five percent of the Union Army regiments had a band group and the total number of the musicians in the army was about 28,000 musicians in 618 bands. Musicians were not only meant for the entertainment of the soldiers but also for maintaining discipline and orderliness among them. Military musicians especially the buglers and drummers had to learn about forty nine different calls including the battle commands as well as the call for the meal. Like the buglers the drummers needed to learn about “39 different beats: fourteen for general use and 24 for marching cadence” (Miller 58). Music as an Inspiration for Soldiers in the Battlefield Though in July 1861 the role of the musicians in war was ignored and dismantled under the crushing pressure of war-situation, both music and musicians played a great part in determining the fate of the war. In a letter to George F. Root Lincoln wrote a letter, "You have done more than a hundred generals and a thousand orators" (Branham 97). Union general Phillip Sheridan believed that “Music has done its share, and more than its share, in winning this war” (Lanning 46). Both in the battlefield and camp, musicians’ influence were enormous. The surviving soldiers of bloody battlefield of Pickett’s Charge returned singing the song “Nearer My God to Thee” that served a spiritual compensation for the exhausted and heavily-suffering the soldiers. At the battlefield of Five Forks, Union musicians sacrificed their lives while playing “Nelly Bly” as a peace message at the front line of the battle under General Sheridan’s order. Seeing the agents of peace being shot at the front line infuriated the union soldiers and helped them to become morally revamped. At the Battle of Williamsburg, Commander Samuel P. Heintzman ordered the military band to play anything that could boost ...Show more

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Name: Course: Tutor: Date: Inspirational Role of Music during the Civil War Introduction Music played a significantly inspirational role on both parts, Union and Confederate, of the Civil War. This role of music was not only multifaceted but also sometimes self-contradictory…
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American Military Bands up to the Civil War Era essay example
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