Thursday, May 26, 2016

Misc. sources on Vachel Lindsay's fiddle player in 1912

"Music of the 1860's: Patriotic Songs of the Era" Civil War Trust

Songs and music of the Civil War covered every aspect of the conflict and every feeling about it. Music was played on the march, in camp, even in battle; armies marched to the heroic rhythms of drums and often of brass bands. The fear and tedium of sieges was eased by nightly band concerts, which often featured requests shouted from both sides of the lines. Around camp there was usually a fiddler or guitarist or banjo player at work, and voices to sing the favorite songs of the era. In fact, Confederate General Robert E. Lee once remarked, “I don’t believe we can have an army without music.”

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• Bernard, Kenneth A., Lincoln and the Music of the Civil War, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho, 1966.
• Currie, Stephen, Music in the Civil War, Betterway Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1992.
• Harwell, Richard B., Confederate Music, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1950.
• Heaps, Willard A. and Heaps, Porter W., The Singing Sixties: The Spirit of Civil War Days Drawn from the Music of the Times, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Okla., 1960.

Sage Snider "Fiddling the Civil War" O Say Can You See: Stories from the National Museum of American History. Jan. 24, 2013.

"My Civil War project started with my belief that the best way to make musical history "come alive" for visitors would be to let them experience this music first-hand in a way comparable to how soldiers would have listened to and created music. Drawing on my own old-time fiddle repertoire as well as my readings on Civil War music and history, I chose a variety of songs that would be historically informative and yet relevant and entertaining. I also researched different lyrics that people might have sung to the same melodies (e.g., southern vs. northern soldiers, civilians, colored regiments, etc.) and used them to create my own "songster" for visitors to read and sing from. After learning the history and how to play the fiddle tunes, instrumental and vocal versions of the songs, and accompaniment parts to allow visitors to sing, I sat down with my songster in the exhibit and began fiddling. ...

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Not only was it incredible to learn more about history behind the music (and country) I unconsciously interact with all the time, but I especially loved being able to share the joy of fiddle music with many people who had never heard it before. I got to show visitors of all backgrounds, from babies to professional music teachers, how music is learned orally, how complex, beautiful, and fun American fiddle music can be, and how important a part of life this music was during the Civil War and can be today."

[She has a bit about Solomon Conn's fiddle -- see entry below -- and a well researched playlist, or songster, on her page.]

Alexis VanZalen "Finding music in unexpected places": By NMAH, October 25, 2011." O Say Can You See: Stories from the National Museum of American History

"... There is a violin in the collections used for another purpose: as a war diary. Solomon Conn, a Civil War soldier with Company B of the 87th Indiana Volunteers, recorded a list of his travels and battles on the back of his "Greffuhle” violin, turning the instrument into a unique document of his adventures and military record."

[pix of fiddle -- purchased in Nashville, Tenn., 1863 ... etc.]

"Gallery: Battle of Pea Ridge, 37th Illinois Band Horn." Trans-Mississippi Theater Virtual Museum. Springfield-Greene County Library System, 2011.

"This over the shoulder tenor saxhorn was played by Samuel Burg of the 37th Illinois Infantry Regimental Band. ... Regimental bands played an important role in the Union army in boosting soldier morale. As the 37th Illinois crossed the Missouri-Arkansas border in February 1862, for instance, the regimental band struck up the tunes “Out of the Wilderness” and “Arkansas Traveler,” much to the delight of the invading Union Army of the Southwest." band of the 1st Brigade, 3d Division, 15th Army Corps -- website of reenactors' 1st Brigade Band, Watertown, Wis.

"Brigade History: Off to War Again!" [band from Brodhead, Wis., had been mustered in, in 1861,

"... Once again [in 1864] the band rode the cars headed for the war. This time things would be different. Cheap boyhood glory seeking was replaced with the determination to be men and do their part. Three vital changes would separate this term of service from the last. First was to purchase their own instruments and NOT to rely on government issue. The best available were from D.C. Hall of Boston and a full set of horns and percussion were secured. Second would be uniforms. These were tailored for them by Smith & Bostwick of Janesville, Wisconsin. Third would be the music. Their brown leather-bound part books contained some sixty-two selections that included patriotic music, dance tunes, funeral dirges, serenades, popular songs and classical music from grand opera. ... "

[from a diary] "Huntsville, Monday, May 16.....A band of twenty men arrived from Brodhead Wisconsin, last evening to be assigned to 1st Brigade, 3d Division, 15th Army Corps. Early in the evening they opened in front of 12th Battery headquarters, formed a circle, and in the gentle twilight played numerous airs, patriotic and melancholy; the sweetest of all, "Home Sweet Home". The green was covered with soldiers, lying at full length, dreamily enjoying the sweet music, forgetful of all the past, in blissful forgetfulness of all things real. The instruments were of German silver, making a very good appearance. May they serve us such a treat often." (Jenkin Lloyd Jones, Private, 6th Wisconsin Battery - An Artillaryman's Diary - pg. 210 )

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"Towards the end of the month, the band found itself boarding a gunboat off on a reconnaissance of the Tennessee River. The warship was about to round the bend to begin shelling a small rebel fort when Kimberly asked to have the band let ashore. No one is quite sure who opened up on the fort first - the gunboat with its cannon, or the band blasting "Yankee Doodle" with its horns. In any case the greybacks gave up the fort with the band continuing to taunt them with national airs as they retreated."

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On February 17thColumbia, the capitol of South Carolina, fell to federal forces. The city was set a fire, probably by the retreating Confederates. As it burned, the 1st Brigade Band was one of 12 bands gathered to play at what one player described as "full blast." They all struck up together The Anvil Chorus from Verdi's opera "Il Trovatore".

The army continued it's march out of the Palmetto State and into North Carolina. By early April they had a bit of a rest in the vicinity of Goldsboro. In a letter of April 7th, 1865, {band member Edwin Oscar} Kimberly described what must have been the proudest moment of his life:

"Last night, according to previous notice, we repaired to Sherman's headquarters for a serenade. A new song, composed by prisoners [Lt. H. S. M. Byers of Iowa, who wrote the song while a prisoner of war in Charleston, S.C.] is in my possession, entitled "When Sherman Marched Down to the Sea." After some rehearsing, I was the first one to sing it before our old hero, Billy T. [Sherman] and his entire staff, after which I sang another and rec'd a very high compliment from Sherman. After playing several pieces the crack band of the army made it's appearance, namely the 33d Massachusetts and played several pieces. After all this we played another piece and returned to camp, assured we had done honor to ourselves at least. After getting in camp our Brigadier [Clark] came with a compliment from Sherman to our band, stating we were the model band of his entire army. This, said by a Gen'l of such wide world renown is certainly a big thing!-a great feather in our caps. The Massachusetts Band spoken of has always had the name of being the best band in Sherman's Army - pronounced by Sherman himself at Savannah. Not wishing to boast I will say of ourselves - we are not afraid of any Band in this Dept. of Tennessee or Georgia. During the campaign we done considerable playing and [were] spoken of very highly as good players and a band of gentlemen. We have strived to live up to and merit a continuance of that good name."

Some good resources on sawmills at -- Sawmill Museum website, Clinton, Iowa

About The Sawmill Museum -- Once known as the “Lumber Capital of the World,” Clinton, Iowa’s pivotal role in the lumber industry and expansion of the West makes it ideally suited to host the lumber museum and learning center. The museum’s permanent exhibit will house some original pieces from the Struve Mill which was operational from 1860′s – 1980′s in Hauntown, Iowa. This exhibit is important because it tells the story of how lumber was processed from living tree to finished product which was then used locally for commercial and residential purposes. The equipment has been generously donated by Mrs. Helen (Struve) Cotton. The museum also houses an early 20th century working saw mill.

"A Brief History of Portable Sawmills" By Jim Philp. Reprinted with permission from the Oct/Nov 1997 issue of Independent Sawmill & Woodlot Magazine. - See more at:

Portable sawmilling used to be two slaves carrying their owner's bronze pit saw into the woods, hoping to saw a single log in a day. Today a modern woodlot owner or logger can save up to buy a versatile, powerful portable sawmill that can produce 2,000 or more board feet of lumber on a good day-all for the price of a new pickup truck. - See more at:

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The circular sawmills were the portable ones. They were usually steam powered, although some had a mill pond and water turbine power. In later times, such mills have been powered by gasoline and diesel engines, electricity and farm tractors. The Frick, American, Lane and Corley mills are good examples of the type. These mills were made in modules with wooden frames and were assembled into a complete mill. The three modules were; husk, containing the saw arbor and carriage feedworks; log carriage, and tracks. A fourth module was the power supply, but this was the responsibility of the owner and was not supplied with the mill. A majority of these mills also included a board edger, available from the mill manufacturer, but many got by edging on the big saw. Portability was a matter of perspective. A crew of six to eight men could dismantle and reassemble one of these "portable" mills in about four days depending on how far they were moving. It was generally considered that a minimum of one-half million board feet of timber was required to justify moving a mill.

At the new location, the mill was reassembled on a prepared foundation, frequently poles set into the ground. The alignment and leveling of a portable circular sawmill were critical if good quality lumber was to be produced, and realigning and releveling was needed at least twice a year. This was necessary because wooden foundations tend to move with the frost. Unfortunately, this necessity was too often not understood, or perhaps ignored. The portable circular sawmill, and its mismanagement, was largely responsible for the aphorism "Thick and Thin Lumber Company." Those sawmill operators who could not produce consistent lumber were quickly tagged with the thick and thin label, something modern sawyers try to avoid at all costs. - See more at:

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