The attack of the Confederacy on April 12th, 1861 early in the morning at 4:30 on Fort Sumter and the capitulation 33 hours later after continual bombardment with 4000 shells and cannon balls destroyed the unity of the Union.

Battle of Williamsburg, General Hancock’s Charge May 5, 1862

“I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than the dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation.”
Robert E. Lee

Foster ignored the American Civil War for a long time. He claimed to have nothing to do with that, because he didn’t believe in the explanation, that this war was waged for the liberation of the slaves. His own family wasn’t traditionally a friend of the Lincoln’s either.

Nobody else was interested in Foster’s romantic dreamings now at all, however. The spirit of the time needed other songs. So he wrote the song That’s What’s the Matter after the slaughter at Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) not from conviction of him, but more from his own economic need. After that the songs Willie Has Gone to the War and When This Dreadful War Is Ended were made in cooperation with George Cooper.


George Root proved that one could earn much money with music if the signs of the time were recognized correctly. Root wrote so well known songs of the Civil War like The Battle Cry of Freedom (1862), Just Before The Battle (1864) and Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (1864). Only for this last song he earned $10,000.

Other songwriters like Henry Clay Work (Kingdom Coming and Marching Through Georgia) or John Hill Hewitt on the southern state side (All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight) were also very successful.



Well-known melodies of the Civil War: