Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 6. Maryland; Songs Since the Civil War

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXVI. Patriotic Songs and Hymns

§ 6. Maryland; Songs Since the Civil War

From the Civil War period the lapse of time and popular consent have elected to preserve a few other melodies, and incidentally the words attached to them, unless these have been displaced by later versions. George F. Root’s Battle Cry of Freedom and Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys Are Marching, Henry Clay Work’s Marching through Georgia, and Patrick S. Gilmore’s When Johnny Comes Marching Home are examples of original words and music; and James R. Randall’s Maryland, of the successful setting of words to a favourite melody—this time the German Tannenbaum. But they are not genuinely national songs. Maryland belongs, of course, to a state; the others are all marching songs, widely played by bands, occasionally resorted to at “patriotic exercises,” and kept alive chiefly by their use with special words in colleges, fraternities, and other social groups.

Since the Civil War there has been no significant addition to the anthology of patriotic song. The depressing years of Reconstruction, the general trend of industrial development, the tiding in of an enormous immigrant population, and the relaxing effect of the “magnificent isolation” and the “manifest destiny” illusions, were all disintegrating rather than unifying influences; and songs thrive only with group feeling. Even the Spanish War failed to inspire a lasting song, a fact which is intelligible in the light of the two most insistent memories from that conflict—resentment at the maladministration of the War Department and perplexity before the ominous problems of imperialism.