Music Along the Rapidan


Music Along the Rapidan

Civil War Soldiers, Music, and Community during Winter Quarters, Virginia

James A. Davis

360 pages
23 photographs, 9 drawings, index


July 2014


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

July 2014


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

July 2014


$45.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In December 1863, Civil War soldiers took refuge from the dismal conditions of war and weather. They made their winter quarters in the Piedmont region of central Virginia: the Union’s Army of the Potomac in Culpeper County and the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia in neighboring Orange County. For the next six months the opposing soldiers eyed each other warily across the Rapidan River.

In Music Along the Rapidan James A. Davis examines the role of music in defining the social communities that emerged during this winter encampment. Music was an essential part of each soldier’s personal identity, and Davis considers how music became a means of controlling the acoustic and social cacophony of war that surrounded every soldier nearby.

Music also became a touchstone for colliding communities during the encampment—the communities of enlisted men and officers or Northerners and Southerners on the one hand and the shared communities occupied by both soldier and civilian on the other. The music enabled them to define their relationships and their environment, emotionally, socially, and audibly.

Author Bio

James A. Davis is a professor of musicology at the School of Music at the State University of New York at Fredonia. He is the author of Bully for the Band! The Civil War Letters and Diary of Four Brothers in the 10th Vermont Infantry Band and his articles have been published in numerous journals including Journal of Military History, American Music, and Nineteenth Century Studies.


"Music Along the Rapidan provides a model for how we might consider music in this difficult period of American history—one that looks beyond who published what where and seeks rather to understand how, when, why, and under what circumstances Americans experienced music."—Civil War Book Review

"Music Along the Rapidan is an engaging addition to this area of Civil War scholarship."—Catherine Bateson, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

“Delightfully readable. A complete study of the Civil War where it meets music and national life.”—Randal Allred, professor of English at Brigham Young University–Hawaii

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Civil War Music and Community
1. Winter Quarters in Virginia, 1863–1864
2. Music and the Community of Soldiers
3. Music and the Military Community
4. Military Balls and the Officers’ Community
5. Soldiers, Music, and the Civilian Community
6. Music and the Religious Community
7. Brass Bands and the Intersection of Musical Communities
Conclusion: The Impact of Winter Quarters

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