Brass bands

Both sides at Knoxville had regimental brass bands, usually playing the over-the-shoulder sax horn like these at the Smithsonian Institution—one of the most popular instruments of a Nineteenth Century American Wind band because of its warm, mellow tone.

Each band usually came equipped with a drum major whose outfit, even in the winter of 1863 could be as fine as this description:

“…drum majors could make quite a show; when the raw student recruits of Company I of the Confederate 4th Virginia Infantry encountered a colossal warrior ‘with a fierce moustache waxed into rat-tails,’ arrayed in a uniform that made their eyes clink, they were convinced that they met up with the ‘commander-in-chief of all the Confederate armies,’ but were disgusted to learn that he was merely the drum major of the First Virginia Infantry!”

While the 13th Mississippi’s band likely played “The Girl I left Behind Me,” or “The Bonny Blue Flag,” the Union bands probably tooted the abolitionist song “John Brown’s Body” or “All Quiet Along The Potomac Tonight.” The tune of the latter was written by a Confederate. But, then, “Dixie” was written by a Ohioan.

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
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