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The Battle Cry of Freedom

The Battle Cry of Freedom

Publisher: Horace Partridge, Boston

Medium: Print On Paper

Shelfmark: RB 23 b 7019 (0065)

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Printed Music

Composer: George Root

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The American Civil War witnessed a wealth of cultural production that praised both Union and Confederate causes. Music was enjoyed by participants close to the fighting and on the home–front, and numerous songs were produced specifically about the conflict, or adapted from contemporary tunes.

Many songs were shared by both sides with different lyrics adopted either extolling the Union and freedom or the Confederacy’s right to secede. The songs produced contain contemporary references to specific military encounters and political debates during the course of the war. They are also common themes of family, death and loyalty.

The song pictured above is one of the most well-known Civil War tunes, The Battle Cry of Freedom. Originally written by George Root in 1862 for the Union cause, this was a very popular tune for soldiers and those on the home-front. As with many Civil War songs, it was adapted to include contemporary references. For example, a verse was added in support of Lincoln’s presidential campaign in 1864. The song was also adopted by the Confederacy, with the lyrics changed to extol the freedom of the Southern states.

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