Friends Of Fort Trumbull to Explore Music of the Civil War

Rick Spencer will entertain and educate with an array of civil war tunes

by John Strartton

During the Civil War period, if you wanted music, you pretty much had to make it yourself, or rely on those who played and sang. This period can probably be called the beginning of American Pop Culture, as sheet music and mobility forced by that war allowed both traditional and or brand new, music to spread rapidly, shaping a unified American vision.

On Thursday evening, August 30, at 7 p.m. at the Fort Trumbull Conference Center, the Friends of Fort Trumbull offers a performance by Rick Spencer, presenter of historic and entertaining music in the American folk tradition. “The Greatest Hits of the Civil War: America’s Earliest Professional Songwriters” is open to the public without charge.

Today, Spencer says, when we listen to music, we usually turn on the radio, slide in a CD, or click an MP3 player. But 150 years ago all performance was live—and for the first time America had people who were making a living purely as songwriters. Songs like “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Battle Cry of Freedom,” “The Blue-Tail Fly,” and “Marching through Georgia!” have become part of our collective consciousness.

Spencer, a long-time Mystic Seaport chanteyman, now serves as the executive director of the Dr. Ashbell Woodward House museum of the Franklin Historical Society. He will focus on the work of four Civil War composers: Stephen Foster, Daniel Decatur Emmett, George Root, and Middletown native Henry Clay Work.

His guitar and banjo will introduce the audience to these beloved songs, giving insight into the character of the American people during and after the divisive conflict. His presentation encourages audience participation.

New members are always welcome; seating is limited. For more information visit

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