Civil War Project

By: Katie Lederhaus, Katie Prock, Myah Neumiller, Jazzie P

Music, Letters, Political Cartoons, Art, Drummer Boys, Slave Songs

Table of contents

1.) Political Cartoons - Katie Prock

2.) Letters - Jazzie Pietrzykowski

3.) Music - Katie Lederhaus

4.) Drummer Boys - Katie Lederhaus

5.) Civil War Era Art- Myah Neumiller

6.) Slave Songs- Myah Neumiller

7.) Summary - Katie Prock

8.) Works Cited - Jazzie Pietrzykowski

Political Cartoons in the Civil War

Political cartoons are illustrations that relate political and social issues that are occurring at a certain time. During the Civil War, these cartoons were a way to distract people from what was going on and make people laugh and make them think about the issues that were going on. Political cartoons also showed the war from different peoples perspectives like slaves, slaveholders and abolitionists. Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper that included political cartoons. Many people liked political cartoons because a lot of them made fun of President Lincoln. One of the more popular illustrators of political cartoons was Thomas Nast. He was known as the most powerful cartoonist in American history. He contributed beautiful illustrations, as well as less sophisticated cartoons to Harper's Weekly and Phunny Phellow. Lewis Maurer was another popular illustrator who worked for Currier and Ives, which was a business that made prints. Another popular cartoonist was Aldabert John Volck, he was one of the most anti-Lincoln caricaturists in America.

Impacts of Political Cartoons on the Civil War

Political cartoons had pretty big impacts on the Civil War. Thomas Nast's cartoons are what helped President Lincoln become elected as president. If Lincoln had never been elected president the Civil War might have never happened. Nast's cartoons also had another big impact on the war. President Lincoln reportedly said "Thomas Nast has been our best recruiting sergeant", which means that his cartoons influenced people to join the war.

Letters in the civil war

Letter writing was the main source of communication during the Civil War between soldiers and other army officials. To be able to write a letter meant that you needed to buy paper, ink, envelopes and pens from sutlers(a person who followed an army around and sold things to the soldiers). The Union army had a post office near some forts and camps so that soldiers could send them easily. The Confederate army however, didn't have many materials to send letters home as often as the Union soldiers got to. Confederate soldiers would have to find writing paper left behind from Union soldiers, or take it from Union prisoners. In 1864, the US Mail Service said that any Union soldier could send letters for free if they wrote "Soldier's Letter" on the outside of the envelope. Soldiers often wrote to their parents, families, and loved ones the most. The time the most letters would be sent out is when you were about to go into a war, because most soldiers knew that they wouldn't make it out alive. Some families thought it was difficult to read or understand what their loved one in the army was trying to say because many soldiers didn't know spelling or grammar, so soldiers would often have lots of mistakes in their letters.

One of the most famous letters from the Civil War was written by Sullivan Ballou to his wife, Sarah. He wrote, saying that they will be moving and most likely engaging in another fight soon, and began saying that he was "Willing to lay down all of [his] joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay [a debt we owe to those who died in the Revolutionary War]. Ballou goes on to say that he loves her, but loves his Country also. He died one week later on July 21, 1861 at the first battle of Bull Run. Ballou's letter never got mailed, but other letters written before he died which were more happy, made it back to his wife.

Impacts of letters on the civil war

Letters were used by almost every Soldier involved in the civil war. This helped them develop methods of writing and grammar. Letters also had many impacts on communication, literature, and society. Communication through letters seemed to be the only way of contacting one another, which must've sparked someones mind to create something else like telephones or telegraphs. Those most likely wouldn't be around if letters were never around.

Music of the Civil War

  • Music played a huge role in the civil war.

  • Music helped soldiers have a positive attitude and a motivation to keep fighting.

  • They sang songs while marching, fighting, and in free time.

  • Each side had patriotic songs. Some of the norths' were "Battle Cry of Freedom", "May God Save the Union", and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". The souths' were "Dixie", "God Save the South", "God will Defend the Right", "The Rebel Soldier", and "Bonnie Blue Flag".

  • Bonnie blue flag was so popular in the Confederacy that union general Benjamin Butler destroyed all the copies he could find, put the publisher in jail, and fined anyone singing or whistling the song, even children.

  • A Union soldier favorite was "Battle Cry of Freedom".

  • Confederate soldiers’ favorite songs were “Dixie” and “Bonnie Blue Flag”.

  • The last verse of “Bonnie Blue Flag”, written by Harry Macarthy, is:

    Then here's to our Confederacy,

    Strong are we and brave;

    Like patriots of old we'll fight

    Our heritage to save.

    And rather than submit to shame,

    To die we would prefer;

    So cheer for the Bonnie Blue Flag

    That bears a single star.

Drummer Boys

  • Most Drummer Boys were young, around eight or nine.
  • Drummer boys were essential on the battlefield. Their jobs were hitting their drums while the soldiers were marching to keep them together, and hitting special codes on their drums that told the soldiers what to do on the battle field. For example the “long roll” signaled to attack. Drummer Boys were also responsible for waking the soldiers up in the morning and signaling lights out at night.
  • When they weren't needed for these jobs, they had stretcher duty, which was walking around the battlefield looking for wounded soldiers and bringing them to medical care.
  • Drumming was a dangerous job. Though the drummer boys were usually at the back of the battlefield, stray bullets could still harm them.
  • One famous drummer boy was Johnny Clem. He wanted to join the army and fight, but he was too young(only nine) and was turned down. He tried to join again at the 22nd Michigan regiment. His persistence persuaded the officers to adopt him as the regiment's mascot and drummer boy. They even gave up a part of their salary to give John a soldiers salary of $13 a month, a little uniform, and a smaller gun. When he was eleven, he was enlisted as a regular soldier. By the time he was twelve, he was a sergeant.

Civil War Era Art

During the Civil War there were more than 10,000 terrible armed conflicts between the North and South and many prints and paintings depict particular battles. During the War, however, few artists actually drew battle scenes. Many sketched scenes of camp and quiet moments in the soldiers' army life, as few artists were close enough to see the sheer terror that soldiers experienced in battle.

During the Civil War, families at home were intimately concerned, and demanded the earliest intelligence and particulars of the lives of their sons, and the methods of warfare. Never had there been such a demand for news, and never had a battlefield been so vast. To meet the exigencies of the situation, journalists swarmed over half a continent, pressing dangerously far forward in the competitive drive for first news. Their toll was great, and many were wounded captured, or incapacitated by diseases contracted in the field. Those journalists and artists who endured throughout the War could be numbered on one hand. Most who worked as 'special artists' were in their 20s or early 30s, and even so the conditions took a great toll on them physically.

Slave Songs

Just as slave songs were considered an emotional release leisure activity, their very nature was also a source of passive and/or aggressive rebellion.

Slaves were not allowed to voice their opinions and emotions and the fact that they sang about their dissatisfaction of their daily life style or their slave master (or both) was in itself defiant. This could be described as a form of passive, cultural resistance. These songs were cultural in the sense that sometimes the subject of the song would be coded in a manner that was familiar amongst the slaves but not the white community and also in the use of instruments such as drums, hands, feet etc. These were just forms of harmless fun to mock the slavery institution, their participants but also to make themselves feel better.

Besides being used for harmless and petty defiance, slave songs were actually used aggressively to rouse people for actual revolts and even wars. In this case, these songs fueled emotions like anger, determination and defiance to unify the participating individuals (in this case, Negroes) against as common cause (freedom from bondage). These types of songs were especially popular during the American Civil War.


Music, Political Cartoons, Drummer Boys, and Letters all had some sort of impact on the Civil War. Music kept the soldiers spirits up and made them want to keep fighting and Drummer boys played secret code on their drums to tell the soldiers what to do in battle. Political cartoons helped Abraham Lincoln become elected president, there may have never been a Civil War if it weren't for Lincoln's election. Political cartoons also influenced people to join the war. Letters were the only way of communication during the civil war. The use of letters for communication may have led to the development of the telephone and the telegraph.

Work Cited

"American Civil War Music." American Civil War Music. N.p., 2015. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

"Anonymous Soldier Before Gettysburg." Civil War. N.p., n.d. Web.

"Cartoon Corner." Abraham Lincoln's Classroom. N.p., 2015. Web.

"Civil War Drummer Boys." Google, 2014. Web.

"Civil War Music History and Songs." AmericanCivilWar. N.p., 2015. Web.

"John Clem." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, 2014. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

Lehman, Kyle. "History Of Political Cartoons." N.p., n.d. Web.

McNamara, Robert. "Civil War Drummer Boys." About Education. Best Buy, 2015. Web.

"Music of the 1860s." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

Onion, Rebecca. "General Shermans Surprise Christmas Present for President Lincoln." Slate. N.p., 20 Dec. 2012. Web.

"Political Cartoons of the 1860s." American Experience. Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 2013. Web.

Reeder, Carolynn. "Drummer Boys Played Important Roles in the Civil War."The Washington Post. N.p., 21 Feb. 2012. Web.

Tubb, Benjamin R. "Civil War Music: Bonnie Blue Flag." Civil War Trust. Google, 2014. Web.

"1864 Campaign Cartoons." Civil War Trust. N.p., 2014. Web.

""The First General Order Issued by the Father of His Country after the Declaration of Independence Indicates the Spirit in Which Our Institutions Were Founded and Should Ever Be Defended."" Emancipation Spirituals (Spiritual Songs). N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

"The Civil War and American Art." Smithsonian American Art Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.