The following is a guest post from Head of Acquisitions & Processing Denise Gallo.
April 12 marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Battle of Fort Sumter, the first major conflict of the Civil War. Having seceded from the Union four months earlier, South Carolina had been demanding that the Union evacuate the fort. Final negotiations came down to two men: Brigadier General P. G. T. Beauregard, the first Confederate officer to hold that rank, and Major Robert Anderson. In the end, cannon fire forced the decision. No matter how resolute, Anderson and his men had no chance against Beauregard’s firepower. When Anderson surrendered the following day, he was allowed to take Fort Sumter’s battered Stars and Stripes with him.
The Music Division’s rich collection of Civil War sheet music demonstrates how citizens from both sides celebrated their heroes in song. The Southern Beauregard garnered a polka march subtitled “Fort Sumter” in honor of his first victory. A rousing Grand March was “Respectfully dedicated to the gallant” Major Anderson. In essence, sheet music took on the role of genteel propaganda, bringing patriotism into the parlor.
In time, Beauregard would be the subject of other songs as would Fort Sumter when it once again became the site of battle. Ah, but those are the subjects for other blogs as the Music Division follows the Civil War in song.