Time is a Flat Circle: The AU Dog Park and Civil War Music| 19/4/17 1:00pm
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Last Night in the Dog Park
An area all AU students know and love is Battery Kemble Park, or, as it’s known better, simply “the dog park." Go there on a breezy mid-afternoon to feel like you aren’t in DC anymore, get some exercise, and if you’re lucky, see some nice ol' dogs out for an afternoon stroll just like you. But who knew, that such a place under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service was in fact a “union defensive site,” according to Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Bearing this knowledge, the last time that my roommate and I took a late-night trip to the dog park we imagined ourselves as part of the war on the walk back. Running through the battlefield on the lower part of the hill, up to where the generals sat, all the while marching to the beat of the drummer boys in our head.
On an important side note: think about that! Why were there drummer boys? Like, twelve year olds playing beat up snare drums? Warfare was so different. Can you imagine a twelve year old playing a drum to keep the marching pace of, I don’t know, a drone up?
Following this line of thought, I fell deep into a spiraling thought process about time. As we arrived back to our dorm and put on some music before embarking into an episode of Twin Peaks, I realized, damn, in 1861 they weren’t listening to Chance the Rapper. They were listening to some weird ragtime or accordion shit. I don’t even know how to describe how I conceptualize what music was like in 1861. Even worse, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about how music changed between the 1850s and the 1870s. Music has changed a good deal between 2010 and 2017, but maybe that’s just how fast the world moves now. But in the words of a friend from down the hall on a different walk back from the dog park, where he felt particularly introspective about the world: “I see time before me and behind me. We are all one.” So, the next time you feel as brooding as he did, have a look at some of this music from 1861-1868 that I’ve compiled.
Tenting on the Old Campground
Tenting on the Old Campground is one of the most popular and well-known union civil war songs. Below is a video with the song and photos from the civil war. Here, one can imagine setting up camp near the top of the dog park, over by the subdivision, where the generals would be. Further over by the trail that leads to Nebraska they would be setting up their battery.
Maryland, My Maryland
Everybody knows that people from Maryland love being from Maryland. The 1861 song Maryland, My Maryland is the state’s State Song to this day, and…encourages Marylanders to fight the union, refers to Abraham Lincoln as a “tyrant,” “despot,” and “vandal," as well as using the phrase John Wilkes Booth shouted while assassinating Lincoln, “sic semper." That escalated quickly, didn’t it? Wikipedia explains the historical context of the state when the song was written: long story short, Maryland was iffy on war but when Union troops on their way to D.C. in April 1861 were attacked by angry mobs, several soliders and several residents being killed. One of the author’s friends was killed and so he decided to write this song…encouraging Marylanders to…secede and join the confederacy. Maybe some of the soldiers who were there in April of 1861 were on their way to the dog park.
An artist’s rendition of the riots in 1861 Baltimore.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Northeaster, social activist, abolitionist, and suffragist Julia Ward Howe wrote a “Battle Hymn” (“The Battle Hymn of the Republic”) to the tune of John Brown’s Body. (Obviously religious). Here are the lyrics, though there are multiple versions. Imagine a battalion of soldiers marching out of the dog park, towards battle, twelve-year-old drummer boy in tow, singing this battle hymn.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah! (x3)
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal";
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.