One song was embraced by both sides of the very bloody conflict: “Home Sweet Home.”
In December 1862, Union troops fought Confederate troops along the Rappahannock River in Virginia at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Levy’s narrative of the fighting is brief but detailed; she focuses her attention on the young combatants who faced harsh winter conditions in camp and who wrote letters home and sang spirited war songs to cheer their efforts. On both sides, their days were filled with music: music for waking up, music for eating, and music for cleaning up. “Dixie,” sung by the South, was answered by “Yankee Doodle,” sung by the North. But Christmas was coming, and one song, which originated in an opera, was soon voiced by both sides: “Home Sweet Home.” The message of the song—longing for home and family—was poignant; still, the fighting soon resumed. Excerpts from letters as well as verses and musical notations from the songs intersperse the pages and reinforce the humanity that could be present on the battlefield. The softly textured illustrations in blue and orange provide views of the fighting, the soldiers, and the encampments, Ford’s lines giving everything a homespun feel.
A moving tale of ordinary soldiers in a great conflict who find solace in music. (notes on the war, the battle, the song, Civil War timeline, bibliography, quotation sources) (Informational picture book. 9-12)