American Civil War Era Sheet Music Collection

Dates: 1852-1918, bulk 1862-1864
Size: 2 linear feet
Repository Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: W00093
Provenance: These materials are gathered together because they are all pieces of sheet music published between 1852 and 1918, with the majority published during the American Civil War. They were acquired through a variety of means over the years. Those items with accession numbers beginning with “72” were originally part of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Collection. The items with accession numbers beginning with a number other than “72” were either donated to or purchased by Chicago Public Library.
Access: No restrictions.
Citation: When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: American Civil War Era Sheet Music Collection, [Accession #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Processed by: Emma Lipkin; supervised by Johanna Russ, July 2018

Historical Note

Near the end of 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. Within a few months, ten more states had seceded. The American Civil War officially began April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. Illinois participated on the Union side by sending hundreds of thousands of troops into battle. Many military and political leaders trace their roots to Illinois. The war lasted nearly four years, ending on April 9, 1865, when the Confederacy surrendered. A few days later, on April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

Not long after the war ended, veterans began forming organizations. One of the longest-lasting was the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), begun in April 1866 in Decatur, Illinois. Posts were established in different places, grouped under state-level departments, in turn grouped under a national commander-in-chief. The GAR disbanded in 1956 when the last veteran died.

In Chicago, the GAR Memorial Hall Association shared space with Chicago Public Library (CPL). In 1883, the Library Board chose the corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street as the location for its future building. At the time, the site was vacant and known as Dearborn Park, named for its proximity to the site of Fort Dearborn. Because of this, many people believed the land was reserved for the GAR. Ultimately, legal action determined the library could have the land, but it had to make room for the GAR, which wanted a memorial hall for its members. CPL gave the GAR extensive rooms and signed a fifty year lease that expired in 1947. At that time, the Library took over caring for the GAR's significant collection of art, artifacts, papers, weapons and more. With the GAR’s material as a base, the library has continued to build its Civil War collection over the years, with a focus on the Illinois experience.

Music played an essential role during the war, both for the soldiers actively fighting and people on the home front. For the soldiers, music served as a form of motivation, a way to keep their spirits up at camp. While there were army bands, often times the music would be sung by the soldiers themselves to commemorate a fallen comrade or remember their home. Since both sides could hear the other from across no man’s land, Union soldiers would play patriotic northern songs and Confederate soldiers would play patriotic southern songs, each attempting to play louder than the other. On multiple occasions, this would eventually cease and they would play the same song in unison.

Although not represented in this collection, songs sung and written by enslaved people and free African Americans were passed down from generation to generation during the hundreds of years of slavery. They were used as a form of communication on the middle passage, the Underground Railroad and elsewhere. During the Civil War, these songs continued, and included topics like religion, freedom and survival. In addition to their part in the war, these “spirituals” laid the basis for American blues music.

On the home front, music was used both to remember loved ones at war, and as a recruitment tool during rallies. It also helped to bring the two sides back together after the war. After Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 10, 1865, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in which he requested that the band play Dixie, an old Southern song. This request symbolically signified an end to the separation between the north and south, and a hope for goodwill in the future.

Chicago music publishing firms Root & Cady and H.M. Higgins found a national market during the American Civil War era. Neither company survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but their output during the Civil War and shortly after made Chicago a center of music publishing.

Scope and Content

The majority of the sheet music in this collection was published during the American Civil War, by Chicago music publishing companies Root & Cady and H.M. Higgins. Publishers from other cities around the country are represented as well. While many composers and lyricists are represented in this collection, several are more common, including Henry C. Work and George F. Root who both worked for Root & Cady. The song topics include but are not limited to famous generals, soldiers, and the horrors and glory of the war. Many are presented in the form of marches, ballads and polkas, and are dedicated to a specific person or group. The cover page of each piece of sheet music is also noteworthy, as many are adorned with detailed sketches of a person or place significant to both the song and the war.

Arrangement and Series Description

Sheet music is split into two series: Series 1: Songs composed during or about the American Civil War, and Series 2: Sheet music unrelated to the American Civil War. Series 1 is arranged alphabetically by publisher, then composer, then chronologically. Series 2 is arranged chronologically.

Related Materials

  • American Civil War Documents, Manuscripts, Letters and Diaries and Grand Army of the Republic Collection
  • American Civil War Era Newspapers
  • American Civil War Photographs and Images and Grand Army of the Republic Photographs and Images
  • Army of the Potomac Reports
  • Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865, Records
  • Cataloged items of interest include: M1639.R76B9, M2198.R66 M9, M1994.R66C67, M1994.R66F67, PS595.C55W27.

Subject Headings

H.M. Higgins (Publisher)
Higgins, H.M. (Hiram M.), 1820-1897
Root & Cady
Root, George F. (George Frederick), 1820-1895
Work, Henry C. (Henry Clay), 1832-1884

Container List

Series 1: Songs composed during or about the American Civil War

72.955 Box 1 Sheet music composed by F. Chase, titled, "Legal Tender Polka." Published in Saint Louis by Balmer & Weber, 1864.
72.613 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Herman Schneider and written by Howard Glyndon, titled, "Belle Missouri." Published in Saint Louis by Balmer & Weber, 1863. Dedicated to the Union Volunteers of Missouri.
87.11.3 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Henry Werner and written by Colonel J.L. Geddes, titled, "The Bonnie Flag with Stripes and Stars." Published in Saint Louis by Balmer & Weber, 1863. Dedicated to General B.M. Prentiss.
76.46.20 Box 2 Sheet music composed by E. Clarke Icsley and written by Thomas F. Walker, titled, "Rest Darling Rest." Published in Augusta, Georgia by Blackmar & Bro., 1864. Dedicated to Little Nellie.
87.11.1 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Harry Macarthy, titled, "The Bonnie Blue Flag." Published in New Orleans by Blackmar & Bro., 1861. Dedicated to Albert G. Pike Esquire
91.15 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Harry Macarthy, titled, "The Volunteer." Published in Augusta, Georgia by Blackmar & Bro., 1861. Dedicated to the Orleans Cadets.
76.46.45 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Charles Young, titled, "Stonewall Jackson's Grand March." Published in Augusta, Georgia by Blackmar & Bro., 1864.
72.600 Box 1 Sheet music composed by W. Arlington and Written by J.B. Murphy, titled, "Bounty Jumpers Lament." Published in Cincinnati by John Church Jr., 1865.
72.288 Box 1 Sheet music composed by T. Brigham Bishop titled, "Abraham the Great and General Grant his Mate." Published in Cincinnati by John Church Jr., 1864.
72.957 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Stephen Glover, titled, "Yankee Volunteers Marching into Dixie." Published in Boston by Oliver Ditson & Co., 1864.
87.11.5 Box 2 Sheet music composed by J.C.J. and written by Finley Johnson, titled, "Maryland! My Maryland!" Published in Boston by Oliver Ditson & Co., 1862.
80.4.2 Box 2 Sheet music composed by E. King, titled, "Nautical Song. The Alabama." Published in Richmond, Virginia by George Dunn & Comp., 1864. Dedicated to Captain Semmes and Officers and Seamen of the CS Navy.
76.46.76.1, 76.46.76.2 Box 2 Sheet music composed by C.L. Peticolas, titled, "Gen. Morgan's Grand March." Published by George Dunn & Comp., 1864. Dedicated to his Officers and Privates.
80.4.4 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Henry Tucker and written by Charles C. Sawyer, titled, "When This Cruel War is Over." Published in Richmond Virginia by George Dunn & Comp., undated.
87.11.2 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Dan. D. Emmett, titled, "I wish I was in Dixie's Land." Published in New York by Firth, Pound & Co., 1860. Dedicated to Bryant's Minstrels.
90.24.1 Box 2 Sheet music composed by J. Burns and written by C.A. Vosburgh, titled, "Tell Mother I Die Happy." Published in New York by S.T. Gordon, 1863.
72.954 Box 1 Sheet music composed by T. Martin Towne and written by L.J. Bates Esq., titled, "‘Old Abe’ The Battle Eagle." Published in Milwaukee by H.N. Hempstead, 1865. Dedicated to the Wisconsin Regiment.
87.11.6 Box 2 Sheet music composed by H.M. Higgins, titled, "Gen. Sherman and His Boys in Blue." Published in Chicago by H.M. Higgins, 1865. Dedicated to General Sherman and his boys in blue.
2007.52S Box 2 Sheet music composed by G.R. Lampard, titled, "Our Beautiful Gems." Published in Chicago by H.M. Higgins, 1864. Dedicated to the Parlor.
72.591 Box 1 Sheet music composed by C.O. Lundberg titled, "Lincoln-Union-Victory-March." Published in Chicago by H.M. Higgins, 1864. Dedicated to Abraham Lincoln.
72.592, 72.958 Box 1 Sheet music composed by J.P Webster and written by S. Fillmore Bennett, titled, "Old Abe has Gone & Did it, Boys." Published in Chicago by H.M. Higgins, 1862.
72.594 Box 1 Sheet music composed by J.P. Webster and written by S. Fillmore Bennett, titled, "The Negro Emancipation Song." Published in Chicago by H.M. Higgins, 1862.
72.612 Box 1 Sheet music composed by J.P. Webster, titled, "We are the Gay and Happy Suckers of the State of Illinois." Published in Chicago by H.M. Higgins, 1862. Dedicated to Colonel Stewart and his Regiment.
2007.52U, 2018.118 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, titled, "Brave Boys are They!" Published in Chicago by H.M. Higgins, 1861. Dedicated to The Sisters of Our Volunteers.
2007.52T Box 2 Sheet music composed by Richard Zellner and written by S.M. Wilson, titled, "Where is the Gipsies Home." Published in Chicago by H.M. Higgins, 1860.
91.18.6 Box 2 Sheet Music, "Our Country's in Danger and Calls for You Now." Published in Chicago by H.M. Higgins, 1862.
72.959 Box 1 Sheet music composed by George Felix Benkert, titled, "Funeral March to the Memory of Colonel Baker." Published in Philadelphia by Lee & Walker, 1861.
91.2.3 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Charles Grobe, titled, "Colombia, The Gem of the Ocean." Published in Philadelphia by Lee & Walker, 1861.
91.18.7 Box 2 Sheet music composed by E. Mack, titled, "Governor Sprague's Grand March." Published in Philadelphia by Lee & Walker, 1862. Dedicated to Governor William Sprague.
76.35.6 Box 1 Sheet music composed by G.R. Herbert, titled, "President Johnson's Grand Union March." Published in Chicago by Lyon & Healy, 1865.
76.46.77 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Charles Young, titled, “Gen. Robert E. Lee Quick March.” Published in New York by J.L. Peters, 1864.
2007.52R Box 2 Sheet music composed by Stephen C. Foster, titled, "Beautiful Dreamer." Published in Boston by William. A. Pond & Co., 1864.
72.593 Box 1 Sheet music composed by J.M. White and written by Jesse Hutchinson Jr., titled, "The Fugitive's Song." Published in Boston by Henry Pretiss, 1845. Dedicated to Fredrick Douglass.
76.46.22 Box 2 Sheet music composed by C.C.D., titled, "The Stonewall Banner." Published in Richmond, VA by J.W. Randolf, undated. Dedicated to Glorious "Old Stonewall Brigade."
91.18.5 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Charles Grobe and written by Henry C. Work, titled, "Kingdom Coming." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1862.
72.614 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Calixa Lavallee, titled, "Col. Ellsworth Gallopade." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1861. Dedicated to Colonel E.E. Ellsworth.
87.11.7 Box 2 Sheet music composed by George F. Root, titled, "The Battle Cry of Freedom." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1862.
87.11.9 Box 2 Sheet music composed by George F. Root, titled, "Just Before the Battle, Mother." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1864.
90.24.3 Box 2 Sheet music composed by George F. Root and written by Letta C. Lord, titled, "Kiss me, Mother, Kiss your Darling." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1864.
76.35.5 Box 1 Sheet music composed by George F. Root, titled, "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The Prisoner's Hope." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1864.
90.24.4 Box 2 Sheet music composed by George F. Root, titled, "On, On, On The Boys Came Marching!" Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1865.
72.973 Box 1 Sheet music composed by A.J. Vaas, titled, "Col. Ellsworth Requiem March." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1861. Performed 1861 June 2. Dedicated to Colonel E.E. Ellsworth.
72.290 Box 1 Sheet music composed by J.P. Webster and written by Luke Collin, titled, "Hurrah for General Grant." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1867. Performed 1868 May 20th. Dedicated to the convention that nominated General Grant for Presidency.
91.18.4 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, titled, "Grafted into the Army." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1860.
87.11.8 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, titled, "Little Major." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1862. Dedicated to Miss. Lucy A. Parker.
76.35.1 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, titled, "Babylon is Fallen." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1863.
76.35.3 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, titled, "Kingdom Coming." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1863.
91.2.2 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, "Sleeping for Your Flag." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1863.
76.35.2.1, 76.35.2.2 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, titled, "Song of a Thousand Years." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1863.
91.18.1, 91.2.1, 90.19.1 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, titled, "Come Home, Father." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1864.
76.35.4 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, titled, "Wake Nicodemus." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1864.
83.1 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Henry C. Work, titled, "Marching Through Georgia." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1865. Dedicated to Major General Sherman's famous march.
90.24.2 Box 2 Sheet music composed by M.J. Lessur and written by W. Dexter Smith Jr., titled, "Angel Mother I'm coming Home." Published in Boston by G.D. Russel & Co., 1863.
91.18.2, 91.18.3 Box 2 Sheet music composed by A. Baumbach, titled, "Glory Hallelujah." Published in Boston by Russell & Tolman, 1861. Dedicated to Maj. Ralph W. Newton.
89.15.1 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Charles Carroll Sawyer, titled, "Who Will Call for Mother Now?" Published in New York by Sawyer & Thompson, 1863. Dedicated to Mr. C. Henry.
80.4.3 Box 2 Sheet music composed by J.H. Hewitt and written by Lamar Fontaine, titled, "All Quiet Along the Potomac To-Night." Published in Colombia, South Carolina by Julian A. Selby, 1863. Dedicated to the unknown dead of the present revolution.
72.956 Box 1 Sheet music composed by W.F.S. and written by H., titled, "Abraham! Our Abraham!" Published in Albany by W.F. Sherwin, 1864.
76.46.75 Box 2 Sheet music composed by William Herz, titled, "Jefferson Davis Grand March." Published in Mobile, Alabama by J.H. Snow, 1861.
87.11.4, 90.35 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Louis Lambert, titled, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Published in Boston by Henry Tolman & Co., 1863. Dedicated to the Army & Navy of the Union.
89.15.2 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Ferdinand Mayer and written by M.A. Geuville, titled, "He's Watching o'er thy Mother." Published in Boston by Henry Tolman & Co., 1863. Dedicated to Mr. O.C. Orne.
2018.119 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Mrs. E.L. Webster, titled, "Stars of Liberty, Song and Chorus, a Tribute to Freedom." Published in Boston by the author, 1862.
72.289 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Charles McTrimmer titled, "Grant is Gone." Published in Boston by White, Smith & Co. Performed 1885 August 8th. Dedicated to Mrs. General Grant and family.
72.601 Box 1 Sheet music composed by J.W. Turner, titled, "Mother is the Battle Over?" Published in Detroit by Henry Whittemore, 1865.

Series 2: Sheet music unrelated to the American Civil War

90.19.2 Box 2 Sheet music composed by Manuel Emilio and written by John G. Whittier, titled, "Little Eva." Published in Massachusetts by John P. Jewett & Co., 1852. Dedicated to Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe.
2018.120 Box 2 Sheet music composed by J.P. Webster, words by E.B. Dewing, titled, "Get out of Mexico." Published in Chicago by Lyon & Healy, 1866.
76.35.7, 76.35.8 Box 1 Sheet music composed by J.A. Butterfield, titled, "When You and I Were Young, Maggie." Published in Chicago by Oliver Ditson & Co., 1866.
76.35.9 Box 1 Sheet music composed by F.W. Root, titled, "Home Run Galop." Published in Chicago by Root & Cady, 1867. Dedicated to the International Club of Chicago.
2018.121 Box 2 Newsletter published by Root & Cady, "The Song Messenger of the North-West, Extra," published in Chicago, 1868. Includes articles, music and lyrics for “Our Last Camping Ground” by Henry C. Work, and a catalog of available sheet music.
72.961 Box 1 Sheet music composed by John W. Hutchinson, titled, "Vote it Right Along!" Published in Chicago by S. Brainard's Sons, 1869. Dedicated to the Universal Suffrage and Equal Rights Association of Illinois.
76.35.10 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Gustavus Lambert, titled, "Close the Door Gently for Mother's Asleep." Published in Chicago by Lyon & Healy, 1871. Dedicated to his wife.
72.960 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Charles Mck. Trimmer, titled, "Hail to M'Kinley." Published in Cleveland by Charles Mck. Trimmer, 1896. Dedicated to William McKinley.
76.35.11 Box 1 Sheet music composed by J.P. Skelly, titled, "Wake to the Song of Love." Published in Chicago by National Music Company, 1892.
76.35.12 Box 1 Sheet music composed by E.T. Blackmer and written by Simpson Sherwood, titled, "Old Memories." Published in Chicago by National Music Company, 1892.
76.35.13 Box 1 Sheet music composed by George Maywood, titled, "Doris the Village Maiden." Published in Chicago by S. Brainard's Sons Co., 1895.
76.35.14 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Andy Lewis and written by Aaron S. Hoffman, titled, "Pinky Panky Poo." Published in Chicago by Sol. Bloom, 1902.
76.35.15 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Cleve M. Williams, titled, "In After Years When I am Old." Published in Chicago by Will Rossiter, 1904.
76.35.16 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Edward Gabriel and written by Janet Gordon, titled, "Sing the Song You Sang in Days of Old." Published in Chicago by McKinley Music Co., 1905.
76.35.17 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Irving A. Berndt, titled, "If Ev'ry Star's an Angel." Published in Chicago by McKinley Music Co., 1909.
76.35.18 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Jimmie V. Monaco and written by Roger Lewis, titled, "At the Rag Time Ball." Published in Chicago by Foster Music Publisher, 1911. Dedicated to Mr. Clyde A. Hager.
76.35.19 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Ernie Erdman and written by Roger Lewis, titled, "Im a Long Way from Tipperary." Published in Chicago by Will Rossiter, 1914.
76.35.20 Box 1 Sheet music composed by W.R. Williams, titled, "You're the Dawn of a Perfect Day." Published in Chicago by Will Rossiter, 1915.
76.35.21 Box 1 Sheet music composed by Hart A. Wand and written by Lloyd Garrett, titled, "Dallas Blues." Published in Chicago by Frank K. Root & Co., 1918.
76.35.22 Box 1 Sheet music composed by F. Henri Klickmann and written by Paul B. Armstrong, titled, "There's a Little Blue Star in the Window." Published in Chicago by Frank K. Root & Co., 1918.
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