Tide Turns Case 5

Marching Musicians

Civil War armies were devastating destructive forces, but they were also one of the nation’s leading sources of music. In the 1860s, America was in a deep craze for German-style brass bands and a huge number of Civil War units formed regimental bands to accompany them on the march and in camp. This handwritten songbook belonged to one of the members of the 33rd Indiana Regiment’s band.

But music also served a more practical purpose. Before radio, field musicians used drums, bugles, and fifes like this one to issue orders over long distances and the deafening roar of rifle and artillery fire. Made of silver, this fife is a cut above what most field musicians would have used. Its owner Benjamin C. Bartlett of the 124th Illinois Regiment would have played it as his comrades fought in the trenches around Vicksburg.

Band Books gift of Lincoln Clemmons
Fife gift of Sara Jane Adams, 1957

SC2146 – 33rd Indiana Band Books
AC-2011-538 – Silver-plated fife from 124th IL


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