Our nation was less than one hundred years old when the first shot rang out in the War Between the States. April 12th, 1861 marks the beginning of the Civil War. In the year 1863, Walter Kittredge, a professional songwriter/performer at the time, penned the well-known "Tenting On The Old Campground." He was preparing to join the Union army, and wanted to present a song to the boys in blue. Though Kittredge was a northerner, his lyrics applied equally to soldiers on both sides of the lines. You'll hear that the song certainly doesn't come across as particularly uplifting, especially if you research the additional verses. Yet as the soldiers listened, shared, and sang the song themselves, one could imagine a sense of encouragement and unity in knowing "we're all in this together." The lyrics, "We are tired of war on the old campground," pretty much sum up the sentiment of the song and, sadly, still rings true today.
Here, we introduce the song to you on the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. We have chosen to use campground suitable instruments: guitar, banjo, dobro, harmonica, and an acoustic bass. Okay, the bass stretches the campground friendly approach a bit.
This is a simple song with an easy to remember melody. We've included an optional second part for the chorus. Both parts will be posted on our web site if you would like to hear them individually. (See page 67 for details.) You will want to match your choir's energy level to the personality of the song... not too peppy, but not overly somber.
This is the next in a series of Civil War songs we will present in the coming years. You will, undoubtedly, find many opportunities to combine these songs with your students' cross curricular studies of the Civil War in their regular classrooms, too.