by Muriel Simonson

On Thursday, August 10, 2017, the Cook Public Library hosted Civil War enthusiast John Bowers as he presented a program on Confederate music of the Civil War. Bowers has made Civil War history his life-long hobby.  His wife, Judy,  assisted him by playing the recordings of the various songs. 
He also gave a bit of information concerning the importance of music in pre-War and during the war. Music was an ingredient of every day life. Most homes had pianos.  In  the he New Orleans area twice a week the slaves were able  to attend concerts if they were allowed to by their owners.

Music was important  in the confederacy. Some of the popular topics were religious, sentimental - especially mothers, slavery was  rarely mentioned. 750to 900 songs were written during the war.  There is not much known of the publishing business. Sheet music was very popular, along with some books. As the war progressed paper and ink became very scarce so the paper became thinner and thinner to the point where they could not print on both sides as they could not be understood on either side.  They found various ways to come up with "paper" which were not actually paper. They also had to come up with some interesting forms of "ink" using  many things that may not hold up very well, but their ingenuity would surprise us.
During the war Field music was an important means of communicating to the troops. They had drummers, fifers, buglers, their instruments played by young non- combatants who also served as stretcher bearers.  Band music was also very important consisting of marches, patriotic, funeral music, etc.  A number of their instruments were captured from the north.

Some of the specific songs that we heard were: The Bonnie Blue Flag, Dixie, Maryland My Maryland (which became their official state song), Goober. Peas, The Homespun Dress and others. 

Mr. Bowers also does other programs pertaining to the Civil War.