Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Popular Songs of the Civil War Era

Posted By on February 13, 2012

Popular Music during the Civil War took several forms: hymns,marching songs, and songs that told stories about events of the war were all popular.

A short film from 1963 featuring several civil war era songs, featuring U.S. Army Band and Chorus:

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Old Black Joe

first verse:

Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay,
Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away,
Gone from the earth to a better land I know,
I hear their gentle voices calling “Old Black Joe”.
I’m coming, I’m coming, for my head is bending low:
I hear those gentle voices calling, “Old Black Joe”.

Complete lyrics and audio files can be found here: http://www.stephen-foster-songs.de/foster022.htm

When the Corn is Waving, Annie Dear


Aura Lee

When the blackbird in the Spring,
Neath the willow tree,
Sat and piped, I heard him sing,
Sing Aura Lea.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Maid with golden hair;
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.

Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Maid with golden hair;
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.
In thy blush the rose was born,
Music, when you spake,
Through thine azure eye the morn,
Sparkling seemed to break.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Birds of crimson wing,
Never song have sung to me,
As in that sweet spring.

Aura Lea! the bird may flee,
The willow’s golden hair
Swing through winter fitfully,
On the stormy air.
Yet if thy blue eyes I see,
Gloom will soon depart;
For to me, sweet Aura Lea
Is sunshine through the heart.

When the mistletoe was green,
Midst the winter’s snows,
Sunshine in thy face was seen,
Kissing lips of rose.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Take my golden ring;
Love and light return with thee,
And swallows with the spring.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is a hymn by American writer Julia Ward Howe using the music from the song “John Brown’s Body“. Howe’s more famous lyrics were written in November 1861 and first published in The Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. The song links the judgment of the wicked at the end of time (Torah/New Testament) with the American Civil War. Since that time it has become an extremely popular and well-known American patriotic song.

first two verses and chorus:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.


When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

first verse:

When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we’ll all feel gay,
When Johnny comes marching home

Shall we Gather at the River?

Marching Through Georgia

This song was written to commemorate Sherman’s March to the Sea, and its upbeat tune made it very popular in the northern states. Gen. Sherman himself came to hate the song as it was played at every one of his public appearances after the war.

MP3 file: Marching Through Georgia






A list of additional Civil War era songs with audio clips can be found here: http://www.us-civilwar.com/music.htm


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