Civil War music


Civil War music
To the Editor,
I appreciated Timothy Walch’s essay on Civil War music in the May 7 issue of The Catholic Messenger. I agree with his statement “Music was an integral part of the war from recruitment to battle to bereavement and, finally, to homecoming.”
In October of 2013 I attended a concert of Civil War music performed by the Red Cedar Chamber Music duet at the Washington, Iowa, community theatre. The narrator gave a running history of the songs and added lots of tidbits of information.
They played “Sherman’s March to the Sea” which Walch mentioned. The musicians played on a gut-string guitar and a wooden flute, both authentic Civil War instruments.
I was very surprised when one of their offerings was a ballad titled “Just Before the Battle, Mother.” They passed out the sheet music to the audience. It was a soldier’s thoughts of his mother before going into battle. The refrain went like this:
Farewell mother, you may never
Press me to your heart again;
But Oh, you’ll never forget me, mother,
If I’m numbered with the slain.
My mother used to sing that to me back in 1934 when I was 5 years old. I don’t know where she learned it; she was born in 1902, long after the Civil War. Hearing it again after almost 80 years brought back old memories. And Walch’s article brought them up again.
Teresa Mottet

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