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“Noble and manly music invigorates the spirit, strengthens the wavering man, and incites him to great and worthy deeds”

Homer wrote those words more than two millennia before the Civil War, but few in the ranks of either side would have argued the point. A good rallying anthem could inspire heroic thoughts and deeds, or unite a whole unit behind a patriotic effort—and there was plenty of music to go around. Historian Kenneth A. Bernard estimated the war prompted composition of some 2,000 tunes during the first year alone. Sometimes motivational, sometimes entertaining, sometimes comforting, music also had its practical use during the war as drums, bugles and fifes sounded out commands. Musicians were so important Robert E. Lee once declared, “I don’t believe we can have an army without music.”