by James A. Davis
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019. Pp. xxviii, 360.
Illus., notes, biblio., index. $55.00. ISBN: 1496210727
The Music of Civil War
In his newest work, Prof. Davis (Fredonia), who has written on the role of music in sustaining comradeship among the troops while in winter quarters in 1863-1864, uses the secessionist anthem Maryland, My Maryland – still the official state song, despite being deeply offensive to many citizens – as a lens through which to examine the ideological and cultural tensions that underlay the Civil War and how music played a role in the development and maintenance of patriotism, on both sides.
Davis fits Maryland, My Maryland and many other songs inspired by the war -- from The Bonnie Blue Flag to The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and many others now largely forgotten – into the cultural side of the war. For example, he explores how the words to Maryland, My Maryland and its music (an old German hymn also used for O Tannenbaum), were used by both sides, including both satirical and serious versions.
Along the way Davis gives us some useful and often insightful observations about life, society, and popular culture during the war, and is at times quite amusing. Maryland, My Maryland is a good read for anyone with an interest in the Home Front during the war, or in American musical history, and, of course, in the still unfinished issues that brought about the war.
Note: Maryland, My Maryland is also available in several e-editions
StrategyPage reviews are shared with The New York Military Affairs Symposium