Written by Brent Harmon
Musicians in Civil War regiments were more than just soldiers who played on a fife or bugle or tapped on a drum. They did it not for enjoyment alone but because it was their job. While the men were firing muskets or giving vocal commands, the musicians were doing something more important. They were encouraging the men by playing patriotic songs of home.
These are some of the things the musicians did.
1.) drums gave orders like retreat, cease firing and fire by the drum;
2.) drummers kept the men in step while marching;
3.) played songs reminding them of home instilling a sense of duty and courage.
1.) fifers played songs and helped give courage;
2.) the fife was often used around the campfires to keep spirits up.
The bugle is the primary method of issuing orders on a skirmish line. This is due to the line extending for great distances across the front of a battalion or regiment. Other uses are as follows:
1.) buglers gave reveille and other orders in camp, on the march and on the battlefield
2.) at battle events, buglers sound “Taps” at the end of battles.
These are just some of the things musicians can do.
If you’re under age for a rifle and interested in being a musician, learn the music and become one. You can honor Civil War soldiers on and off the field without carrying a rifle.
Musicians fought and died also, so honor your ancestors by being a musician.