Night March to Gettysburg
Night March to Gettysburg is a collection of songs mentioned in the letters of soldiers from the 140th NYV from 1862 to 1865. One letter in particular lists about eight of these songs that were sung by the boys on an overnight march from Hanover Pennsyvania to Gettysburg on the night of July 1st & 2nd, 1863. The writer reflects on the songs, and how they revealed the character and thoughts of those who sang them... 'Old Dog Tray' and 'John Brown,' shown more fun than sober thought; another is singing 'hard times come again no more,' undoubtedly his feet are blistered and he is thinking of home; another is singing quite to himself 'Tis the grave of Eulalie,' this sounds quite prettily in the woods on a night march. 'Weeping Sad and Lonely' and 'Rally round the flag,' these they all sing, for they are favorites with the boys...' I set out in 1996 to find original sheet music or period song books containing these songs, and others mentioned in the regimental history of the 140th NY. With Wiley's 'The Life of Johnny Reb' and 'The Life of Billy Yank' supplying many more titles, and additional diaries and letters adding still more, I paused a few years later with about four to five hundred period songs in my collection. The above letter provided the title for this CD, and the songs were selected by the soldiers from my home town over 140 years ago. So I may claim that this is the best selection of songs on any 'Civil War' CD anywhere, because I had nothing to do with it. At least as far as the Army of the Potomac goes, these are the songs they sang and loved. Interestingly, I have found seven of these sixteen songs in songbooks published for Confederate soldiers. Having the proper versions of the songs in hand, period manuals were secured as well, and thirty five years of modern guitar playing were unlearned, while learning the proper style on my 1897 Washburn. A reproduction of an 1859 concert minstrel banjo was bought, and I learned only from period manuals; I had never played banjo before, which was an advantage. The vocals are based on the original sheet music, and feature four part harmony on most songs. About a few of the songs... 300,000 More, or We Are Coming Father Abra'am; depending on whose version of the music it is set to. I like the L. O. Emerson because it was more popular then. I have heard at least 4 different musical setting for this. This song was a musical calling card for the 140th early in their existence. Lt. Col. Louis Ernst, upon arrival in a camp, would dispatch a squad to serenade the commanding general with this song. Some One to Love, No One to Love. The colonel of the 140th NYV was Patrick O'Rorke, a well liked young officer who graduated first in his class at West Point in 1861. Just before going into battle at Gettysburg, the brigade commander, Stephen Weed visited O'Rorke and his regiment. At one point the two of them sang a verse or two of a popular song. The setting was described in a letter by an officer who witnessed it. Later he wrote another letter describing the song. The letters do not agree, and neither is clear on the title of the song. But from the details I have, I believe it was one of these two songs. A few hours after sharing the song both these officers were dead on Little Round Top. Johnny Fill Up the Bowl & John Brown: This track is the most layers I have piled onto one file... I lost track around a dozen, somewhere between there and fifteen. As the nights went by I added more and more gear, so you hear reproduction tin cups and canteens rattling against Springfield muskets, and of course the steel-heel-plated Brogans marching on the concrete floor. By the third night I decided to keep this track. I hope it is as much fun to listen to as it was to make. This project could not have been completed without the help of the staff of the Sibley Library, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester; and Brian Bennett, historian and author of Sons of Old Monroe, the regimental history of the 140th NY Volunteers. Additional thanks for the inspiration to a relative of mine who marched with that regiment, Lt. Col. Louis Ernst; and a great bunch of friends I reenact with in the recreated 140th NYV.