Band Music from the Civil War Era
Image Caption
The Civil War Bands

See Image Caption

Band of the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry [Detail], in front of Petersburg, Va., August, 1864. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction number: LC-B8184-7346. Call Number: LOT 4190D.

Of this band and the regiment to which it was attached its leader, Frank Rauscher, wrote: "It was in 1861, when President Abraham Lincoln made the first call for three hundred thousand volunteers for three years' service, in response to which Charles H. T. Collis, then a young man and enthusiastic in the cause of the Union, promptly raised a company of splendid material for the full term. The uniform adopted for the dashing members was that of the French Zouave d'Afrique, and besides pleasing their fancy very much, it attracted a number of men to join the company who had seen actual service in the French army, several of whom were French Alsatians. . . . The Uniform adopted for the regiment was precisely like that of the original company--red pants, Zouave jacket, white leggings, blue sash around the waist, and white turban. . . . The material for these uniforms was all imported from France, and special arrangements were made to secure a sufficient supply of the same to replenish the uniforms during the whole term of service. . . . There were other Zouave regiments in the army, but as soon as their uniforms became badly worn, they were required to don the regulation blue. The officers of the 114th were men of pride and culture, as well as courage, and therefore determined to have a full brass band. . . . Concerning the band it may be here stated, that about one year before the war broke out, a number of young men formed a cornet band in Germantown. As instrumental musicians, they were amateurs and beginners, but with a fair knowledge of music as vocalists, by close application they made rapid progress. . . . When the band was started [Capt. F. A. Elliot of Germantown] became a helpful friend of the project, subscribing liberally toward procuring instruments, and afterward assisted in supplying the members with uniforms. . . . Subsequent events . . . proved it to have been a good policy on the part of the officers to secure a band, and that it became a prime factor and one of the most efficient aids in maintaining discipline." (Frank Rauscher, Music on the March, 1862-65, with the Army of the Potomac, 114th Regt. P.V., Collis' Zouaves [Philadelphia: Wm. F. Fell & Co., 1892], 11-14.)

Return to Essay

Band Music from the Civil War Era