Dear Mother, I’ve Come Home to Die; The Dying Confederate’s Last Words; The Dying Soldier

The Civil War was bloodier than any other conflict in American history. The number of soldiers who died between 1861 and 1865 is approximately equal to American fatalities in every war up to the Korean War combined. The significance of death to the Civil War generation changed, as it violated prevailing assumptions about life’s proper end; who should die, when and where, and under what circumstances.

Death was no longer encountered individually; mortality rates were so high that nearly every American family was touched. Its threat, proximity, and its actuality became the most widely shared of experiences. This shared suffering would override persisting differences about the meaning of race, citizenship, and nationhood to establish sacrifice and its memorialization as the common ground on which North and South would ultimately unite. The ballads presented here illuminate soldiers’ contemplations on the reality of death. They share a common theme of departure from this world with no regret for their struggle. “The Dying Soldier” is “a martyr to freedom, to justice and truth!”

Civil War Ballads Gallery

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