“A seasoned performer, Bobby Horton is a multi-instrumentalist, a composer, producer, and a music historian. For more than 30 years he has performed with the musical-comedy group Three On A String. He has also produced and performed music scores for ten Ken Burns PBS films, including ‘The Civil War’, ‘Baseball’, and ‘Mark Twain’, two films for the A & E Network, plus sixteen films for The National Park Service. His series of recordings of authentic “period” music has been acclaimed by historical organizations and publications throughout America and Europe.”
This is the 4th in my series of songs that were important to the soldiers in The Union armies and their loved ones at home. Presented here are a variety of musical styles that were common during the 1860’s. Like all my other recordings, I played all the instruments, performed all the vocals, hand drew the cover and liner notes, and recorded in my home production studio – hence the “Homespun” in the title.
Songwriters of the 1860’s wrote hundreds of songs of patriotism. Several are included here in Volume 4: In 1861 Septimus Winner of Philadelphia wrote “Abraham’s Daughter” to honor a regiment of volunteers from New York City who were firemen; E. C. Saffery honors all men who answered their country’s call in “The Union Volunteers”; Presented here in a military band setting is the patriotic “Rally ‘Round the Flag” written by James T. Fields and William B. Bradbury; The great songwriter, George Root, did his best to honor the Union volunteer in his “Brave Boys Are They”.
Several novelty tunes are included in this collection: “High Toned Southern Gentleman”, written to be performed on the stage, parodies the stereotype of the ‘typical’ southern planter; U. S. Grant first came to national prominence when he demanded and got unconditional surrender from General Buckner at the 1862 Battle of Fort Donelson – Harriet L. Castle and J. C. Beckel celebrates this aggressive general in their song “The Grant Pill”; A pre-war minstrel song, “The Blue Tailed Fly” was very popular around the campfire; One of the more unusual songs presented here is “The Consolidation Song”. The author of this one, C. A. White, built this entire song using song titles of songs that were popular in the 1860’s.
Septimus Winner wrote “He’s Gone to the Arms of Abraham” from the point of view of a lady whose sweetheart has been drafted into the army. While this song takes a sympathetic view of her situation, “How Are You Conscript?” takes a comedic, satirical look at an actual draftee – there is little sympathy here.
Several of these songs pay tribute to the sacrifice and dedication of the boys in blue: George Root reminds the soldier of the folks at home and why he fighting in “Never Forget the Dear Ones”; As the war spun out of control, casualty lists grew longer and longer. W. T. Rossiter’s “Our Comrade Has Fallen” beautifully illustrates this sad reality; With armies constantly on the move and the huge number of dead on the field after battles, formal funerals were not possible. Families had little hope of procuring the body of their loved ones. This sad reality is effectively portrayed by H. L. Frisbie in “Bury the Brave Where They Fall”; After the Battle of Gettysburg, a dead Union soldier was found holding a picture of his three children. After an extensive investigation, the man was finally identified as Amos Humiston of Portville, New York. Mr. J. G. Clark wrote “Children of the Battlefield” to chronicle this sad event and donated his profits to the dead soldier’s children.
Many regiments adopted dogs, cats, birds, and other animals as they moved from place to place. In “Poor Kitty Popcorn”, Henry Clay Work tells the moving story of a soldier’s pet cat named Popcorn.
The recording concludes with two classics: “Auld Lang Syne”, written by the great Scot poet Robert Burns, became popular in this country during this bloody war and was often sung in the ranks. I close with “The Star Spangled Banner” played on a 19th century Washburn guitar.