“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.”
The men and women who lived through the horrors of The War Between the States left us a rich collection of songs that offer insight into their character and selfless dedication to a cause. Their music was instrumental in allowing them to persevere in their struggles and deal with the emotional ‘ups and downs’ of total war being waged in their own backyards. This, the fifth in my Confederate series, offers a variety of music that was a part of the Southerner’s daily life, both in the army and on the home front.
Many songs were written expressing Southern patriotism throughout the four years of war. “The Cross of the South” was written in 1861 by Henry St. George Tucker, “The South Shall Rise Up Free” by John Hill Hewitt, and “The North Carolina War Song” are three such songs of patriotism presented here.
Three tunes contained in this volume are songs that were written to honor the citizen soldier in the field: “Ye Cavaliers of Dixie” by Benjamin F. Porter celebrates the bravery of the Southern warrior; “The Soldier’s Suit of Grey”, written in 1864, is a tribute to the Confederate soldier’s sacrifice as the war dragged on and on; “The Soldier’s Farewell” paid tribute to these brave men as they marched away to war in the early days of The Confederate States of America; a mother’s grief for the loss of a son is cited in T. H. Bayley and H. L. Schreiner’s song, “The Mother of the Soldier Boy”.
“The Kentucky Battle Song” was the theme song of the famed Orphan Brigade. These steadfast soldiers were cut off from their homes in Kentucky and somehow found strength to continue the fight in spite of the many hardships and homesickness. Captain Blackford of General J. E. B. Stuart’s staff wrote “The Cavalier’s Glee” to honor the General and his command, and General James Chalmers honored his commander, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, in his song “General Forrest, A Confederate”. “Hood’s Old Brigade” was written late in the war to chronicle the demise of one of the most famous units in all of the army.
The Southern soldier loved to sing whether in camp or on the march. “The Bowld Sojer Boy” was a pre-war tune that was a favorite among the infantry boys throughout the war. General Barnard E. Bee of South Carolina, the man who gave Colonel Jackson the name ‘Stonewall’ during The Battle of 1st Manassas, wrote “The Infantry” before the war while a member of The U. S. Army. “Do They Miss Me At Home”, a melancholy song was popular with the soldiers as they thought of home and the loved ones there.
“Old Abe’s Lament” makes fun of President Lincoln’s obsession with the defense of Washington after the Confederate victory at 1st Manassas. General Lee used the president’s paranoia to his strategic advantage. General Ben Butler was one of the most hated of Union commanders; this tune, “General Butler”, parodies this Yankee officer.
Nitre is the primary ingredient in the gunpowder used to fire pistols, rifles, and artillery in the 1860’s. It is naturally found in caves. John Harrolson, a nitre agent stationed in Selma, Alabama, was responsible for gathering the nitre (also known as saltpeter or potassium nitrate) used in the powder manufacturing process. His sources of nitre were becoming scarce as the war went on and on, yet the demand remained constant. He learned that human urine when collected and stored will eventually become nitre. He put posters around the town of Selma asking the ladies to save the contents of their chamber pots so the army could collect the “lotion” for the war effort. Someone thought his idea sounded funny, and wrote a poem about this situation – it was published in the Selma paper – someone read the poem and set it to the well known melody of the German Christmas carol, “Oh Tannenbaum”. The poem and song is known as “John Harrolson, John Harrolson”.
Father Ryan, the poet laureate of The Confederacy, wrote a moving poem after the war about the beloved flag of The Confederate States of America. Theodore von Lahache wrote this stirring orchestral music for the poem known as “The Conquered Banner”.
I played all the instruments, performed all vocal, hand drew the cover and liner notes, and recorded here in my home production studio – hence the “Homespun” in the title.