Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War


In December 1862 just after President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (September 1862), Federal and Confederate soldiers met in battle at Fredericksburg, Virginia. As the roar of the battle died down and night set in over the thousands of killed and wounded who lay freezing in the fields, nature stepped in with a spectacular show.  the aurora borealis shone over the battlefields.

The next day the defeated Federal troops silently pulled back over the river while the victorious Confederate troops held their ground on the south side.

Curiously, on both sides of the river the same sound arose as morning dawned.  the call of Reveille rang out to wake the warriors.  As the day wore on the sounds of "Peas upon a Trencher" announced breakfast, "Roast Beef" was the call to dinner.  Both sides heard the same songs keeping them to a schedule.

This is history experienced at the personal level and translated through the universal power of song, through excerpts from letters of soldiers and complemented by the haunting illustrations, reminding us of the true story of war and the humanity we share no matter what side we choose.

Fascinating and entertaining,  the introduction of music tugs at a deeper place of understanding and experience in us and brings us side by side with the soldiers suddenly aware of the hardships of war, the individual stories of war and the irony that we share so much between us even when the politics divide.

80 pages         978-1484725986         Ages 8-12

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


"Amid the fearsome battles of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate soldiers were urged onward by song.

There were songs to wake them up and songs to call them to bed, Songs to ready them for battle and to signal their retreat, Songs to tell them that their side was right, and the other wrong . . .

And there was one song that reminded them all of what they hoped to return to after the war.

Defeated in the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, the Union soldiers retreated across the river. There, a new battle emerged as both armies volleyed competing songs back and forth. With the Christmas season upon them, however, Federals and Confederates longed for the same thing. As the notes of "Home, Sweet Home" rose up from both sides, they found common ground for one night.

Interwoven with soldiers' letters and journal entries, this is a true story of duty and heartbreak, of loyalty and enemies, and of the uniting power of music. Debbie Levy's moving text and Gilbert Ford's vibrant, layered illustrations come together to create an unforgettable tale of American history."--from the publisher

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