Civil War Songs Stirred Patriotic Feelings

by Sandra Merville Hart

The American Civil War (1861—1865) inspired many songs. In fact, “The First Gun is Fired! May God Protect the Right!” was published three days after the firing on Fort Sumter, the official beginning of the war. George F. Root composed that song and over thirty others about the war.

Not all the songs popular during the war were written in that turbulent period. Also, different words were often written for the same tune. For example, the tune for “Maryland, My Maryland!” was the same as the Christmas song “O Tannenbaum.”

War songs often dealt with topics on the minds of soldiers, such as home, sweethearts, family, battles, battlefield deaths, faith, survival, and heroes. “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” “Just Before the Battle, Mother,” “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” and “Comrades, I Am Dying!” are examples of these.

Songs that particularly struck a chord with citizens dealt with patriotic themes, missing a family member, and grief for those who weren’t coming home, of which “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The Vacant Chair (or We Shall Meet but We Shall Miss Him)” are poignant examples.

“God Save the South,” “Dixie,” “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” “All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight,” and “Maryland, My Maryland!” were sung in the South.

“Battle Cry of Freedom,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “The Grant Pill,” and “The Children of the Battle Field” were among those sung in the North.

Union and Confederate armies heard each other’s bands playing on the eve of the Battle of Stones River. A musical rivalry ensued where Union and Confederate bands took turns playing songs that supported their own side. When bands played “Home! Sweet Home!”, both sides sang together. One can only imagine how mutual yearning for their families swelled their voices into the night sky.  

This song bound both sides together for an unforgettable moment.

Some of these tunes are examples of what the characters in my novel, Avenue of Betrayal, Book 1 of my “Spies of the Civil War” series, enjoyed at regimental band concerts in the story. My hope is that these scenes transport readers back when such concerts were an oasis during those turbulent war days, as well as show that not everyone in the city was loyal to the Union.  


(Introduction by) Crawford, Richard. The Civil War Songbook, Dover Publications, Inc., 1977.

“Music of the American Civil War,” Wikipedia, 2022/02/01 ttps://


Civil War Hospital Trains

by Sandra Merville Hart

Civil War soldiers wounded on the battlefield were first treated at tent hospitals or in local buildings. With a combined total dead and wounded at Gettysburg for both armies at over 40,000, wounded soldiers filled the courthouse, churches, homes, barns, and every available public building.

The overworked, exhausted surgeons at Gettysburg couldn’t keep up with the demand. As soon as a patient was able to survive a trip, he traveled by hospital train to a city hospital.

A typical Civil War era hospital train contained between 5 to 10 hospital cars and a passenger car for wounded soldiers able to sit. Additionally, there was a surgeon’s car for the medical staff, a kitchen car for the nourishing food provided to wounded, and a box car for supplies.

The outside car panels had “U.S. Hospital Train” painted in large letters. A yellow flag flew on the slow-moving engine. Three red lanterns hung under the engine headlight at night. Ten-car trains carried up to 200 patients.

Injured soldiers were carried on stretchers to a hospital car. Four India rubber rings hooked onto wooden posts to support the stretcher. There were 3 tiers of stretchers stacked in a 50-foot hospital car. A nice period sketch of these cars may be found at

Early in the war, a surgeon noticed the agony that sick and wounded soldiers suffered from the locomotive jostling over tracks. He suggested the above design for hospital cars, greatly increasing patients’ comfort while traveling to the general hospitals in the cities.

A Rebel in My House Book Blurb:

When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

A promise to her sister becomes impossible to keep …


Book Trailer


Compiled by the editors of Combined Books. The Civil War Book of Lists, Da Capo Press, 1994.

“Hospital Trains,” Son of the South, 2021/03/23

Wilbur, M.D., C. Keith. Civil War Medicine 1861 – 1865, C. Keith Wilbur, 1998.


First Telegraphed Message from a Hot Air Balloon Happened During the Civil War

by Sandra Merville Hart

Aeronaut Thaddeus Lowe’s test flight on April 19, 1861, from Cincinnati didn’t go as planned. Instead of landing in the Chesapeake Bay area, winds took his balloon south to South Carolina. He was arrested as a possible spy. He was released after being recognized by a local citizen. What started out as a catastrophe ended with Lowe and his balloon on a northbound train to Cincinnati.

Lowe was now determined that he and his balloons would serve the Union army. He took his balloon Enterprise to Washington D.C.

The Columbia Armory occupied the area where the National Air and Space Museum now stand. It was on this spot, in sight of the White House where President Abraham Lincoln lived, that Lowe launched the Enterprise with American Telegraph Company representatives on June 17, 1861.

They ascended to a height of 500 feet. Lowe telegraphed a message to President Lincoln from the air that he could see 50 miles from his position.

President Lincoln met with Lowe that evening in the White House. Though Lowe wasn’t the only aeronaut hoping to serve the army, he had convinced Lincoln that reconnaissance from the balloon would help his generals. Lowe became the chief aeronaut in the U.S. Army Balloon Corps.

Several Federal officers ascended in these balloons, including John Reynolds, Joe Hooker, George McClellan, Fitz John Porter, Baldy Smith, John Sedgwick, and George Custer.


“Civil War Ballooning,” American Battlefield Trust, 2021/02/05

“Civil War Ballooning,” Smithsonian National Space & Air Museum, 2021/02/05

Clifford, Command Sergeant Major James, USA-Ret. “Balloon Operations in the Peninsula Campaign,” The Army Historical Foundation, 2021/02/05

Fanton, Ben. “Gas Balloons: View from Above the Civil War Battlefield,”, 2021/02/05

Gould, Kevin. “Balloon Corps,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2021/02/05

Mortimer, Gavin. Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War’s Most Daring Spy, Walker & Company, 2010.

“Thaddeus S.C. Lowe,” Wikipedia, 2021/02/05

Civil War Silk Dress Balloon

by Sandra Merville Hart

The U.S. Balloon Corps began in the summer of 1861. Aeronaut Thaddeus Lowe and members of his corps made numerous balloon flights to discover Confederate troop movements from the air.

Confederate General James Longstreet wrote that their army longed for a balloon to use in observations but didn’t have the money.

Captain Langdon Cheves* bought silk in Savannah and Charleston in lengths of 40 feet. This fabric, normally used for women’s dresses, was sewn together and then varnished. Because various colors were used, the balloon made from the silk was beautiful. The balloon’s official name was Gazelle.

The “Silk Dress Balloon,” as it came to be called, was sent to Richmond. Confederates were unable to get pure hydrogen gas. Instead, ordinary illuminating gas from Richmond Gas Works—the same type that lit gas lamps—filled the balloon.

It was moved, full of air, to the battlefield by train. The colorful Silk Dress Balloon was first used by the Confederates at the Battle of Gaines Mill. General Edward Porter Alexander ascended several times to observe the fighting from two miles away. Actual troops were difficult to see yet rising smoke showed him where to direct Slocum’s Division to reinforce Porter’s troops. Night ascensions showed enemy campfires for estimates of troop numbers.

Inability to fill the balloon in the field hampered their efforts. Gas from the Gas Works limited flights to 6-7 hours. They didn’t use Lowe’s three captured portable gas generators.

Confederates were happy enough with the results to take the balloon onto the Teaser, an armed tug boat. When necessary, the balloon was sailed along the James River to Richmond for refilling. On July 3, 1862, the U.S.S. Maratanza captured the Teaser on the James River. The balloon went to Thaddeus Lowe, who cut the fabric for souvenirs.

Another balloon was made in Savannah by Charles Cevor, a balloonist. It was used for the next year in the Charleston and Savannah area until the Second Battle of Charleston Harbor, when it was lost in the summer of 1863.

The Confederates didn’t try again. By then, the U.S. Balloon Corps had dissolved.

A rumor has survived from the war. In 1886, General Longstreet wrote in an article published in Century magazine. He said that a request was made that the ladies donate their silk dresses to make the balloon. It paints a lovely picture of sacrifice that Southern women made throughout the war—and they did sacrifice abundantly—but this particular one doesn’t appear to be factual. Articles that mention Longstreet’s quote also write about the forty-foot lengths of silk purchased by Cheves to make the balloon.

*One source gives the name of Dr. Edward Cheves instead of Langdon Cheves.



“Civil War Ballooning,” American Battlefield Trust, 2021/02/05

Clifford, Command Sergeant Major James, USA-Ret. “Balloon Operations in the Peninsula Campaign,” The Army Historical Foundation, 2021/02/05


Fanton, Ben. “Gas Balloons: View from Above the Civil War Battlefield,”, 2021/02/05

Paone, Thomas. “The Most Fashionable Balloon of the Civil War,” Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, 2021/02/08

Civil War Food Prices Escalate in Richmond

by Sandra Merville Hart

The Confederate Capitol was officially transferred to Richmond, Virginia, on May 21, 1861. Confederate President Jefferson Davis moved there with his family.

Richmond’s prewar population of 38,000 swelled to 100,000 by 1865. This caused food shortages as the war continued.

By early 1862, the cost of food had risen. Bacon was 25 cents a pound. Butter was up to 50 cents a pound. Beef had risen from 13 to 30 cents a pound for poor quality meat. Fish, even shad or rockfish, was expensive.

Folks paid $1.50 for a pound of coffee. At that price, ladies used roasted rye or roasted corn as substitutes for coffee. Some used dried willow leaves to replace tea.

As the war continued, some residents resorted to “Dutch treats,” when entertaining guests at dinner parties. Guests attending such dinners provided delicacies like brandied peaches, sardines, or French prunes for the meal.

Oriental’s Bill of Fare dated Monday, December 21, 1863, shows a variety of choices. This Richmond restaurant boasted of “Game of All Kinds (In Season)” and “Meals Furnished at All Hours.”

Here are a few of their menu items and prices:

Soups: Beef, Chicken, Vegetable, Clam, Oyster, Terrapin, Turtle, Mock Turtle—$1 each

       Fowls: Roast Turkey, Roast Goose, Roast Ducks, Roast Chicken—$3 per plate

       Fish: Shad, Perch, Herring, Crabs and Lobsters—$3 per plate

       Meats: Roast Beef, Roast Mutton, Roast Lamb, Roast Veal—$3 each

      Steaks: Beefsteaks, Pork Steaks, Mutton Chops, Veal Cutlets, Venison Steaks—$3 each

       Sundries: Ham and eggs, Poached eggs, Scrambled eggs, Fried eggs, Omelets—$3 each

       Oysters: Fried oysters, Scalloped oysters, Raw oysters—$3 each

       Birds: Partridge, Robin, Snipe, Woodcock–$3 per pair

       Vegetables (many choices marked as unavailable): Irish Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Cabbage, Lettuce, Onions, Celery—50 cents

      Non-alcoholic beverage choices were Pure coffee—$2.50, Pure tea—$2, Fresh milk—50 cents.

     Wines: Champagne, Madeira, Claret, Port

     Liquors: French Brandy, Apply Brandy, Peach Brandy, Rye Whiskey

     Malt Liquors: Ale, Porter

Even Fine Havana Cigars were on the menu. It’s difficult to read the prices for the alcoholic drinks and determine if it was sold by the bottle or glass. For instance, champagne has $40 marked by it in pen.

In contrast, Corinthian Hall’s Bill of Fare, from March 28, 1864, shows price increases in only three months. These are grouped by price:

     $7.50—Ham and Eggs, Tenderloin Steak, Beefsteak and Onions, Oyster Fried, Oyster Boiled, Oyster Scalloped

       $5—Veal Cutlets, Mutton Chops, Boiled Ham, Fish, Omelet-herb

       $2—Potatoes cream, Potatoes fried, Celery, Toast, Butter

       $4—Coffee per cup

These old menus give us a glimpse back into history—what a treasure!


“Richmond in the Midst of the Civil War,” Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 2021/02/04

Mortimer, Gavin. Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War’s Most Daring Spy, Walker & Company, 2010.

Feeding the Sick and Wounded in Civil War Richmond

by Sandra Merville Hart

The Confederate Capitol was officially transferred to Richmond, Virginia, on May 21, 1861. Confederate President Jefferson Davis moved there with his family.

The city with a prewar population of 38,000 swelled to 100,000 by 1865.

Soldiers were part of that number, including sick and wounded at over thirty hospitals. The largest of these was Chimbarazo—included in its 120 buildings was a bakery. Winder Hospital had 98 buildings with a farm.

One of the smaller hospitals was Mississippi Hospital No. 7 at Howard’s Grove. The surgeon in charge was William J. Moore in 1862. A patient’s diet could be restricted to “full,” “half,’ or “light” by the doctors. I found a copy of the Bill of Fare for this hospital in 1862.

Choices in a Full Diet included:

Soups: Beef, Chicken, Oyster

       Fish: Perch, Trout, Cat Fish*

       Roasts: Beef, Mutton, Pork, Chicken, Duck

       Boiled: Beef

       Fricassee (stewed or fried meat served in a thick white sauce): Mutton Chops, Beefsteak*, Chicken, Pork Chops, Sausage, Venison, Quail, Eggs

       Vegetables: Irish Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Cabbages, Onions, Beets, Carrots, Celery

Choices in a Half Diet included:

Soups: Beef, Chicken, Oyster

       Fish: Perch, Trout, Cat Fish*

       Boiled: Chicken, Eggs

       Vegetables: Irish Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Onions

Choices in a Light Diet included:

Butter Toast, Milk Toast, Dry Toast, Roast Apples, Oyster Soup, Beef Tea, Rice Pudding, Rice Boiled, Custard Pudding, Molasses, Soft Boiled Eggs

       Breads: Biscuit, Rolls, Egg Bread, Corn Bread*, Baker’s Bread, Family Bread

Beverage choices were coffee, chocolate, green & black tea, milk.

Surgeons could order extras for patients:

Blanc Mange*, Wine Whey, Calve’s* Feet, Arrow Root Pudding, Oranges, Apples

Food shortages due to the swelled population affected Richmond as the war continued. It’s likely that a later menu wouldn’t contain these same choices.   

*Spelling from 1862 menu


“10 Facts Richmond Virginia,” American Battlefield Trust, 2021/02/04

“Richmond in the Midst of the Civil War,” Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 2021/02/04

Mortimer, Gavin. Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War’s Most Daring Spy, Walker & Company, 2010.

Experimental Balloon Flight from Cincinnati Ends Badly During Civil War

by Sandra Merville Hart

Before the Civil War started, Thaddeus S.C. Lowe dreamed of flying his hot air balloon on a transatlantic flight. A successful test flight from Philadelphia to New Jersey was made on June 28, 1860. Three months later on September 7th, wind ripped open his balloon, the Great Western, when Lowe attempted a transatlantic flight.

Joseph Henry, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, suggested a second test over land.

Lowe planned a night flight from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Chesapeake Bay area on Enterprise, a new balloon. He left Cincinnati the night of April 19-20, 1861. Fort Sumter had been fired on a week earlier, marking the beginning of the Civil War.

Winds unfortunately carried him South. Lowe tried to land near the border between North Carolina and South Carolina. Armed men ordered him to take off again, which he did.

His second landing was even worse. Folks in South Carolina didn’t trust him. They placed his deflated balloon in a wagon and escorted both to Unionville, SC. A local newspaper editor knew of the aeronaut. He wrote a letter of introduction for Lowe to take to leaders in Columbia.

The letter didn’t help. Lowe was arrested. He stayed in jail until government officials released him.

On April 26, 1861, Lowe rode a train back to Cincinnati with his balloon. He reflected on troop movements he’d observed from his flight. It sparked a new idea.

He put his transatlantic flight dream to rest. Serving his country by observing the Confederate army from the air became his goal.


Fanton, Ben. “Gas Balloons: View From Above the Civil War Battlefield,”, 2021/02/05

Gould, Kevin. “Balloon Corps,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2021/02/05

“Thaddeus S.C. Lowe,” Wikipedia, 2021/02/05


Pizzini Confectioners in Civil War Richmond

by Sandra Merville Hart

Pizzini’s Confectionery Palace, located at 807 Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia, was known as the “Napoleon of Confectioners” by 1852. Famous among city residents for delicious ice creams, Pizzini’s also sold cakes, candy, and fruit.

Advertisements in Richmond’s Daily Dispatch from November 15, 1873 show that Pizzini’s sold Havana oranges, Lisbon grapes, figs, and wine jelly. Malaga grapes were 50 cents a pound. Dates were 25 cents for 2 pounds. Pizzini’s advertised “cocoanut” (coconut) cream candy and “cocoanut” caramels.

The same edition showed they did have competition. Wood & Son’s mineral water depot seemed to specialize in hot soda water. Apparently, the ladies’ favorite was hot soda water with chocolate and cream. It was available with coffee, tea, cream, or chocolate. Healthy, delicious hot soda and chocolate—advertised as recommended by physicians—was only 10 cents a glass.

There were several confectioners, restaurants, and bakeries in Richmond during the Civil War (1861-65.) Some are listed simply under the owner’s name. You may notice a number of female owners in the group.

Here are a few of the confectioners: Mrs. Kate Taylor, confectionary; A. Pizzini, confectionery; Antoni & Catogni, confectioners; Jas Lombardi, confectioner; and Mary Kumpner, confectioner.

Besides the dining rooms of the hotels, there were several restaurants: Tom Griffin, restaurant; John Macpherson, restaurant; “Brandy Station” Restaurant; Phillip White, restaurant; John A. Worsham, restaurant; Manassas Hall, restaurant; Planters’ Eating House; and “Star Saloon,” restaurant.

There were a few bakers: Jefferson Powers, baker; R. Adam, baker; _____ McNaughter, baker; and Ragland & Co., bakers, among others.

Pizzini’s was one of the businesses damaged by fire when the Confederate government evacuated Richmond on April 2, 1865. As the 1873 newspaper ads show, they recovered to thrive once again.



“Daily Dispatch, Volume 45, Number 120, 15 November 1873,” Virginia Chronicle, 2021/02/03——-en-20–1–txt-txIN——–.

“Details of the Evacuation, April 8, 1865,” The New York Times, 2021/02/03

“From the Richmond Examiner, 2/22/1866,” Civil War Richmond, 2021/02/03

“From the Richmond Whig, 4/15/1865,” Civil War Richmond, 2021/02/03

Mortimer, Gavin. Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War’s Most Daring Spy, Walker & Company, 2010.

“Pizzini Celebration at Slash Cottage,”, 2021/02/03

Civil War Women: Rebecca Littlepage Thwarts a General

by Sandra Merville Hart

Confederate General Henry Wise replaced Colonel Christopher Tompkins as commander of the Kanawha forces. Marching from Richmond, he arrived in Kanawha County on June 26, 1861. Wise soon stayed in Kanawha House Hotel’s best room.

Fort Sumter had been fired upon two and half months earlier.

The small Virginia town of Charleston was of strategic importance to Wise. He decided to claim a stone mansion surrounded by a thousand acres of farmland as his headquarters.

He should have run the idea by the lady of the house, Mrs. Rebecca Littlepage.

Confederate troops camped near a farm owned by the Littlepage family. Soldiers used the farm’s grain, sugar, bacon, molasses, and horses.

Wise strode to the home and told Mrs. Littlepage he intended to take her mansion as his headquarters. The spunky woman refused to release her home. The general threatened to blow the house down.

He returned with artillery. A crowd followed. Rebecca stood on the front step with her children around her. Wise told her to leave. She refused.

The general ordered his soldiers-some of them family friends—to fire upon the house. The men refused his command. Wise left that day.

Instead of taking over the home, his soldiers camped on the family’s property. Fort Fife, a one-hundred-square foot fort, was built on a hill overlooking the stone mansion. The location gave wonderful views of the Kanawha Turnpike, its junction with the road to Parkersburg, and the James River.

Adam Littlepage, Rebecca’s husband, became the quartermaster officer of the 21st Virginia. He died in a duel and never returned to the stone mansion home that his wife fought so bravely to preserve.


Egnatoff, Daniel et. al. “Littlepage Mansion-Charleston Civil War Trail.” Clio: Your Guide to History. September 19, 2019. Accessed February 1, 2021.

Mortimer, Gavin. Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War’s Most Daring Spy, Walker & Company, 2010.


Euphemia Goldsborough, Confederate Nurse at Gettysburg

Ambulance outside Lutheran Seminary, Gettysburg.

by Sandra Merville Hart

Euphemia Goldsborough learned of the terrible battle at Gettysburg that took place July 1-3, 1863, and wanted to help nurse the wounded.

She lived in Baltimore, Maryland, and it wasn’t an easy place for a Southern sympathizer to live in 1863. Citizens leaving the city were required to take an oath of allegiance to the Union before a pass would be issued.

General Robert E. Schenck, who commanded the Middle Department and VIII Corps in Baltimore, declared martial law in Baltimore on June 29, 1863. The next day he made it mandatory for anyone leaving the city to have a pass signed by the provost marshal.

Union and Confederate wounded were brought to Baltimore after the battle. Anyone visiting the hospitals had to be completely loyal to the Union. Another order, passed on July 10th, stated that no Confederate soldiers could be entertained in homes or any place other than his assigned hospital.

Under those circumstances, Euphemia’s devotion to the South didn’t allow her to nurse wounded soldiers in Baltimore. She decided to go to Gettysburg.

It’s unclear how she and dozens of other women accomplished leaving Baltimore because the railroads had suspended travel. She also needed a pass—after taking an oath of allegiance—to leave by boat on the Patuxent, Potomac, or West River. Perhaps she disguised herself or hid with the supply wagons headed to the battlefield.

Valley where Pickett led a charge, Gettysburg Battlefield

Regardless of how she got there, she was a nurse at the temporary hospital at Pennsylvania College Hospital by July 18th. Wounded soldiers, some missing limbs, lay on bare floors without pillows.

Colonel Waller T. Patton, 7th Virginia, was one of the wounded there. An artillery shell ripped part of his jaw away during Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd. To aid his breathing, the unconscious man had to be propped up to have any chance to live. Unfortunately, there was no way to prop him.

Euphemia volunteered. She sat on the floor with her legs stretched out in front of her. Surgeons placed his back against hers. Fearing her slightest movement might cause the officer to suffocate, she fought the numbness that soon set in. All through the long night, she sat motionless in the candlelight.

Despite heroic efforts to save him, Colonel Waller T. Patton died on July 21st. His obituary in Richmond’s Daily Enquirer mentioned that he’d been tenderly nursed by a Baltimore woman. Perhaps the article was speaking of Euphemia. When she met the officer’s family in Richmond a few months later, they offered her the hospitality of their home while she was in their city. She thanked them but refused the gracious offer.

Civil War nurses made many sacrifices for their heroic patients. Gettysburg wounded were soon moved to Camp Letterman, a large tent hospital outside town where Euphemia had one hundred patients—fifty Union and fifty Confederate soldiers. She kept hospital books that were autographed by some of her patients. She also had letters and poems from them.

WWII General George S. Patton is a name many recognize. Colonel Waller T. Patton was his great-uncle.


Conklin, E.F. Exile to Sweet Dixie: The Story of Euphemia Goldsborough Confederate Nurse and Smuggler, Thomas Publications, 1998.

“Waller T. Patton,” Wikipedia, 2021/01/28

Wilson, Laurel. “A Gun with a Story: Waller Patton’s Civil War Pistol,” Gettysburg Compiler, 2021/01/28