Robert E. Lee once said, "We couldn't have an army without music."
Throughout history, music has always been of great importance to the military. The American Civil War was no exception. Critical group activities such as drilling and marching were taught to rhythm so as to forge automatic responses by constant repetition - an effective tool for teaching troops maneuvers needed for going into battle. Bugle calls and drum figures were components of music used to instruct new recruits and to guide veteran soldiers in the field.
But perhaps the most important use of music was not on the parade ground or battlefield. Often in war there are long periods between battles spent waiting in camp or bivouac. Boredom was one of the soldier's worst enemies and music in camp was one of his principal antidotes. On campaign, regimental brass bands and field musicians playing fife and drum performed on the march and in bivouac. In winter quarters it was the camp band or minstrel troupe's job to keep up morale. Every brigade had its own minstrel show, with commanders trading or commandeering the best talent for their band.
The 2nd South Carolina String Band is a true recreation of such a camp band. These musicians originally met as did those among the volunteers of 1861 - as riflemen in a company of infantry. This band was formed as theirs was - to entertain themselves and their comrades around the campfire. Since 1989 when they first began to play together, some of the founding members have retired and some new men joined, but the music has continued to improve and flourish.
Regarded by many as the best band of their kind, they have played in concert and at period dances at nearly all of the major national reenactments of the last ten years, for fund raisers as at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, and at the dedication ceremonies for the last two monuments to ever be placed at Gettysburg National Battlefield Park. Their music can also be heard in two of Ken Burns' films, JAZZ and MARK TWAIN, as well as in performance and on the sound track of Ted Turner's GODS &GENERALS.
The 2nd South Carolina String Band is one of the most active and popular Civil War camp bands in America today.
With three albums and an hour-long video of music to their
credit, these boys are enjoyed by reenactors and anyone else who likes a rollicking good time. Their music is boisterous and high spirited, evoking the days when soldiers entertained their comrades around the campfire with the tunes of great American composers like Dan Emmett and Stephen Foster. Listening to the 2nd South Carolina String Band is an exciting experience that brings the sounds of the past to life.
Southern Soldier is a collection of songs and melodies which were well known to Southerners and Northerners alike; tunes that were a familiar and comfortable part of life in the years leading up to the War Between the States. Many of these compositions were written by the likes of Stephen Foster and Daniel Emmett, giants of the popular music industry of their day.
Some of the titles, Ol' Dan Tucker, Dixie's Land, and Hard Times Come Again No More, are still familiar to the modern-day ear. Other titles on this album, though not familiar to the eye, will be quickly recognizable to the ear. ALL selections on this album are performed on authentic instruments of the period and were chosen for the appealing nature of their rhythms and melodies. They are presented with as unique and individual a spirit as one might expect from a true Confederate camp band of the era.
Over the years since 1989, when the band was formed, we have made a concerted effort to grow in the music and the history of those times. This collection of songs and melodies that the soldiers brought with them from home to the war represents the harvest of that growth. It was and continues to be our intent as a group of musicians and living historians to try to capture the spirit and emotion of those tumultuous years. We believe that this album, Southern Soldier, has succeeded in that effort.