Calls to Arms: Liberty in Confederate War Music

Student Author(s)

Jonathan Tilden

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jeanne Petit

Document Type


Event Date



Music is one of the most striking cultural products that can be examined. The music of the Civil War is no exception and Confederate war music helps the modern understand the motivation to fight for Johnny Reb. When examining Confederate war music, it becomes clear that the motif of liberty was paramount in the southern understanding of the war. This lay at the heart of their rationalization for succession. Out of this came a myriad of Southern comparisons between 1776 and 1861. Revolutionary imagery and language permeated a number of songs, such as “The Right Above the Wrong,” and “Seventy-Six and Sixty-One.” Liberty was one of the most potent concepts in Confederate war music and from this came an extremely fascinating subgenre of wartime music that sought to portray the Confederacy as the rightful heirs of the founding fathers.

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