“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.”
Songwriters of the 1860’s wrote thousands of songs during the four years of The Civil War. They chronicled all aspects of life in the Union Army and on the home front in their compositions. Their work offered hope to the people as they struggled to win the war. Their songs also offered an escape from the horrors of death and destruction, and the heroic efforts of their armies were celebrated in their songs of battle. Volume 3 offers a wide variety of these songs.
Like all the others in this series, I played all the instruments, performed all the vocals, hand sketched the cover and liner notes, and recorded the music in my home production studio – hence the “Homespun” in the title. Many of the instruments in this recording date back to the 19th century and the arrangements reflect the various musical styles common in the 1860’s.
Patriotic songs were quite common – most were written in the early days of the war. “Stand Up For Uncle Sam”, written by George Root, was one of the more popular early war tunes. Theodore Tilton looks to The Creator to bless the Union cause in his patriotic hymn “God Save the Nation”. “To Canaan” was written by C. A. Brainard and E. A. Kelly as a patriotic response to President Lincoln’s second call for 300,000 additional troops and is presented here in a military band setting.
The reality of war has always inspired songwriters during times of conflict. “Who Will Care for Mother Now?” was written by Charles C. Sawyer when he learned of the dying words of a young soldier. J. H. McNaughton mourns the loss of a young Union soldier in his emotional song “The Faded Coat of Blue”. George Root’s “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” offers hope to the thousands of Union soldiers held in prison camps in the Southland. “God Bless My Boy Tonight” captures the hopes and prayers of many Mothers and Fathers during the war.
Soldiers enjoyed ‘light’ songs to kill time and to escape the drudge of army life. Several such tunes are in this program: Billy Barlow is a fictional character dating back to 1836. His importance to the Union cause is celebrated in musical spoof called “Billy Barlow”; The soldiers gleefully sang of the ultimate demise of the Confederacy in “Hard Times in Dixie”; There were many versions of “Dixie” composed during the war. One of the more popular versions sung in the Union armies is presented here and is known as “Union Dixie”; Minimizing the valor of the enemy was a common theme of soldier songs - “Skedaddle” is a light hearted look at the scattering of Southern troops at the approach of the Union Army; The man in the ranks had a low opinion of draftees or conscripts - Ednor Rossiter’s “Come In Out Of The Draft” was a fun song that was enjoyed by the soldiers around the campfire; Army food was always a source of discontentment for the men – the much despised hard bread known as hardtack is ‘celebrated’ in the soldier favorite “Hard Crackers”; “De Day Ob Liberty” written by George Root was another soldier favorite.
Union victories were often celebrated in song: The 1863 capture of Vicksburg is the inspiration for this E. W. Hicks composition called “Vicksburg Is Taken”; The people of the state of South Carolina as a whole and especially the city of Charleston were blamed by many Yankee boys for starting this awful war, therefore, this song, “The Fall of Charleston”, was sung with gusto by the men in the ranks.
I close this collection with a post war song that the Union veterans sang at reunions. “The Songs We Sang Upon the Old Camp Ground” is the old soldiers’ remembrance of the music that sustained them throughout the four long years of war.