Walter van Brunt - “The Battle Cry of Freedom”
George F. Root’s “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” written in 1862, was among the most popular songs published during the U.S. Civil War; an estimated 700,000 copies of the sheet music were sold, and the publishers had to run fourteen presses at once to keep up with initial demand. The above recording, from UC-Santa Barbara’s Cylinder Preservation Project, was made in 1916.
The original lyrics are clearly Unionist, but were later adapted into a Confederate version; songs frequently drifted from one side of the conflict to the other in this way.
Thomas Wiggins - “The Battle of Manassas” (1861)
John Davis, piano
"Blind Tom" Wiggins, born into slavery on the plantation of General Bethune near Columbus, Georgia in 1849, was allowed to teach himself piano as a small child since due to his blindness he could not be of normal service around the estate. His talents for mimicry (at the piano and otherwise) were prodigious and soon became world-famous, known to the likes of Moscheles and Charles Hallé. Several of his compositions were published, and he toured internationally from the age of sixteen. This piece, a programmatic depiction of one of the U.S. Civil War’s most notorious battles, was written when Wiggins was about twelve years old.