How a Chicago Music Store Helped Win the Civil War

Come listen to Civil War songs and learn “How a Chicago Music Store Helped Win the Civil War,” on Thursday, March 21, at 7:30 pm, at Farley Music Hall, Elsah, Illinois.

Lincoln Historian, Christian McWhirter, from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Edwardsville fiddler, Hannah Jellen, and banjo player, Ben Holbrook, will perform and explain how popular songs such as “The Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Marching through Georgia,” provided high-spirited entertainment for soldiers at the battlefront and folks on the home front during the Civil War.

These and many other popular songs about the Civil War were published by Root and Cady, a new but enormously successful music store and publishing company in Chicago. The firm’s founders, Ebenezer Towner Root and Chauncey Marvin Cady dominated Chicago’s music publishing industry until the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed the firm’s all paper (nothing was digitized on the cloud) inventory, leading to bankruptcy.

But the songs survived, Dr. McWhirter, has written about them in his book, Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War. His research has shown how the popular music of the war played in effectively endorsing emancipation for African Americans and in their being recruited into the Army.

Accomplished musicians Jellen and Holbrook, who are currently graduate students in musicology at the University of Illinois, will create the audio experience of listening to this lost but vital piece of Illinois’s Civil War history.

This program is the first of this year’s Hosmer-Williams Lectures sponsored by Historic Elsah Foundation and underwritten by Liberty Bank: A United Community Bank.

The program is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required. Parking is available. Refreshments will be served following the lecture.

Historic Elsah Foundation celebrates, educates, and preserves the buildings in Village of Elsah. You may join Historic Elsah Foundation as a member at any time.