Social Studies 5: Battle Songs during the Civil War
Okay, get this. During the Civil War people actually used to march into battle with bands that blasted heroic music in order to inspire the troops to fight harder. Seriously. It was like Fury Road in real life. Let's learn more about it in this video.
|5th Grade||Social Studies|
|Elementary and Middle School||5th Grade|
Yup. We're talking old school. During the American Civil War, regimental
brass bands were a regular part of both the North and South armies. [Brass band on a stoop]
These bands—and the songs they played—were seen as essential to the army's spirit. [Band playing as soldier shoots]
Think of it like exercising – why exercise in silence..
...when you could exercise to some super-awesome patriotic workout music?
In fact, famous Confederate General Robert E. Lee once said, “I don't think we could
have an army without music.”
So, yeah…music? Mucho important. [Robert E. Lee talking and men playing instruments appear]
And what song would be more patriotic than our great national anthem, right?
Unfortunately, the national anthem didn't exist at the time, so each side took up their [Girl playing a piano]
own individual anthems.
The Confederates chose a song called Dixie, which sang about how great the land of Dixie
was, and how it needed to be fought for and protected. [Record spinning]
And seeing as “Dixie” refers to the Southern United States, and not those tiny little cups, [A sink and a small cup]
it makes sense why they chose it.
The North, on the other hand, decided not to go with Dixie because that wouldn't make
a whole lot of sense, and instead took a tune called “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
This song's lyrics talked about the Bible and how bad people are judged by God, and [Man playing piano and bible appears]
compared that to the Civil War, suggesting that their enemies in war were these bad people
who needed judgment. [Vinyl playing]
Obviously, the North had a very clear idea as to who they thought were the “good guys”
in the battle.
Each side's bands would actually play the songs during the battle. It was kinda like [Bands playing as battle goes on]
the soundtrack to an action movie… except if that movie was playing two different songs
at once, which probably got a little bit annoying after a while. [People watching a war movie]
Once more, bands would often duel one another. Sometimes playing the same song
over the different lyrics, each advancing their own cause.
That's right. There were basically civil war freestyle battles going on. [Man on stage at a freestyle battle]
Except instead of cool rap lyrics and a sick drop, it was civil war chants
and a brass ensemble.
Which is cool…in its own way…
To this day, we can still hear renditions of both songs used in political campaigns, [political campaign boards on lawns]
movies, and by brass bands across the country – though there's some debate around whether
or not it's totally cool to use “Dixie,” seeing as it represented the side that was
down with keeping slavery around.
So if you want to play it safe, go with the North's.
Or if you want to pick something controversial, pick something by Justin Bieber. [Brass band playing and Justin Bieber appears]
He is a Canadian after all.