From December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863 the Union and Confederate Armies engaged in a major battle south east of Nashville, Tennessee just west of Murfreesboro at Stones River. The Union forces lined up from north to south on the west, The Confederate forces lined up from north to south to their east.
The night before the battle bands from both armies took turns serenading the troops and each other. First the Yanks, then the Rebs; back and forth for nearly an hour. Finally, one of the bands struck up “Home, Sweet Home,” and was soon joined by the band of the other side. Together they ended their “Battle of the Bands” on a tender note that touched the heart of every soldier, Blue or Gray.
This past October 15th reenactor musicians from bands portraying both sides gathered at the Stones River Battlefield to recreate the “Battle of the Bands.” I was pleased to represent Nebraska along with musicians from Texas, California, Ohio, Rhode Island, Alabama, West Virginia, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. We rehearsed music in respective Blue and Gray bands in the morning, enjoyed a lunch provided by the National Park Service, performed at various sites along the battlefield in the early afternoon, and closed our day with a recreation of the original “Battle of the Bands,” including the closing song “Home, Sweet Home.”
I had a wonderful time meeting musicians that I correspond with on facebook, including several members of the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Band. Many of these Buckeyes were members of the Ohio State Marching Band during their college years, as was I. During lunch we reminisced about our days in the band and told “war stories” of our experiences. Although there were several membes of more recent years, I was pleased to get reacquainted with a fellow member of my days in the band.
We are making plans for another “BoB” in a year or two. So, if you participate in a Civil War reenactment band please consider joining us.