Picture if you can home before electricity, neighborhood before cars, books for friends, a piano for entertainment, for performance and the dance.  You can sing, play, and perhaps, compose.  You follow the fashion in music and hurry to the shop before the latest song sheet is sold.  Your home might be in Boston, in Savannah, or in-between, in Alexandria.  Your brother serves with Sherman, your cousin with Jackson, and you practice in hope of performing for your beau, just now serving with the Army of the Potomac.  Tell me: which song do you practice.



John Payne composed “Home Sweet Home” in your aunt’s day (1823) for a forgotten opera (Claire, or the Maid of Milan), and yet the song is again popular, the most popular, the most requested, a song banned by the Union Army for fear that soldiers will desert posts for family reunion and civilian ease.  Yes, of course you would like him home, soon, yet not in shackles, court-martialed and shamed.

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there
Which seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere
Home! Home!
Sweet, sweet home!
There’s no place like home
There’s no place like home!
An exile from home splendor dazzles in vain
Oh give me my lowly thatched cottage again
The birds singing gaily that came at my call
And gave me the peace of mind dearer than all
Home, home, sweet, sweet home
There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!

Home Sweet Home music railing

Home Sweet Home Fence, Chatham Manor, Fredericksburg. credit: GetawayMavens

Chatham Manor, Fredericksburg, Virginia, built for William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, (1770s); during the War to End Slavery owned by Horace Lacy and visited by Abraham Lincoln.  At this time Chatham was a war hospital that employed the nation’s second female doctor, Mary Edwards Walker, the first female to receive a Medal of Honor; poet Walt Whitman served here as nurse.  Chatham Manor’s “Music Stair” railing features the first few bars of “Home Sweet Home”.

John Payne, “Home Sweet Home”.  credit: the National Library of Sweden



You have been told by Sally round the corner that this melancholy melody is Stephen Foster’s last, cause enough for tears, though the 9/8 chord it is that urges forth the willing tears.  In quiet and calm Foster conjures a lover who serenades a beautiful dreamer, a dreamer passed into the shadow world.  Surely, when he thinks of you he will remember and hum the sweet-sad tune.

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day,
Lull’d by the moonlight have all passed away!
Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the cares of life’s busy throng,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

Barnsley Resort

Ruins at Barnsley Manor, Adaisrville. credit: Barnsley Resort

Godfrey Barnsley built the magnificent Italianate “Woodlands” (now “Barnsley Manor”) for his beloved wife, Julia.  Before completion, Julia died of consumption.  Godfrey abandoned the project yet was by the ghost of Julia called to complete the estate, an act of loving devotion.  For a time, Godfrey and the six children enjoyed life at Woodlands, until war, the loss of fortune, and occupation by Union troops who ransacked the estate, stealing $150,000 in valuables ($5MM+ today).  After the war, Godfrey and his daughter, Julia (named after her mother), returned to rebuild the estate.  Julia is the rumored inspiration of M. Mitchell’s Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind).  Alike Scarlett, Julia struggled through poverty to rebuild the estate.  The garden, where the ghost of Julia appeared, is modeled after the landscapes of Andrew Jackson Downing.

Stephen Foster, “Beautiful Dreamer”.  credit LOC



He’ll like this one, serving as he does in Abraham’s army, having answered Lincoln’s 1862 call to volunteer in the Union cause.  The verse is composed by James Gibbons, set by Stephen Foster, and published by the great William Cullen Bryant.  Surely, with 300,000 new conscripts, the war shall soon with success be concluded.  Everyone says so.

We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thouand more,
From Mississippi’s winding stream and from New England’s shore.
We leave our plows and workshops, our wives and children dear,
With hearts too full for utterance, with but a silent tear.
We dare not look behind us but steadfastly before.
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

We are coming, coming, our Union to restore,
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

Blandwood Picturesque Song

Blandwood, near Greensboro. photographer unknown

In 1844, Governor Morehead commissioned A. J. Davis to redesign his house in the “Tuscan Villa Style”, the “Italianate”.  His home, Blandwood, was a model of refined anti-bellum manners, host to many celebrities, including Dorothea Dix.  During the war, Blandwood was the quarters of the dashing Confederate General, P. G. T. Beauregard; it was there at the fall of the Confederacy (1865) Governor Zebulon B. Vance surrendered to Generals Cox and Schofield.  Blandwood is a Davis masterstroke and the longest surviving American Italianate house.  Morehead, a proponent of limited abolition and Union preservation, served in the Confederate Congress and is remembered as the “Father of Modern North Carolina”, president of the North Carolina Railroad, namesake of Morehead city and the Morehead School for the Blind.

James S. Gibbons, “We Are Coming, Father Abraham”.  credit: United States Marine Band



Mother is a daughter of the South, Father is a son of the North.  Both smile in memory of magnolia blossoms, live oaks, long porches, and genteel hospitality when tapping foot to the spirited “Dixie”.  True, the song is a Southern anthem; true, the song is among Abraham Lincoln’s favorites, composed by an Ohioan, Daniel Decatur Emmett, performed at parades and rallies both South and North.  When by the grace of God this conflict is decided, we shall need to get on again, one with the other.  Either way, when in tune with rousing “Dixie”, fingers delight to dance along the ivories.

I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten,
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
In Dixie Land where I was born in, early on a frosty mornin’,
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

Then I wish I was in Dixie, hooray! hooray!
In Dixie Land I’ll take my stand to live and die in Dixie,
Away, away, away down South in Dixie,
Away, away, away down South in Dixie.

picturesque song

Andrew Low House, Savannah. photographer unknown

Juliette Magill Gordon, “Daisy”, was born in Savannah, October 1860.   Daisy was a child of war, born in a time when neighbor kept neighbor in fealty to the Good Book, to our better angels, and to survive.  Creative, talented, cherished by William Mackay Low who brought her into the family home, where in 1886 Daisy Low would found the Girl Scouts.  The Andrew Low House was designed by John Norris (1847) in an Italianate style that hints of the Greek and the Gothic, with something of the Roman in those bronze entrance doors that recall the Temple of Romulus, Rome.

Daniel Decatur Emmett, “Dixie”.  credit: Metropolitan Mixed Chorus (1916)



Father approves this anthem, being as it is, Bible bourn and composed to the tune of “John Brown’s Body“; memory of the righteous abolitionist, John Brown.  Julia Ward Howe, an anti-slavery agitator … even so, you picture the bright and balmy morning that minister Brown was hung: he woke, read his Bible, wrote a final letter to his wife, and then they put him in a wooden box with the rope that hung him yet strung to his neck.  I think of that cruelty each time I hear the tune.  No, a righteous battle hymn will not serve to soften sentiment and to gentle conditions.

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!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

Picturesque Pratt House

William Pratt House, near Richmond. credit: Michelle Bowers

When in 1857 William Carter Pratt married his pretty 16-year-old bride, she in a pique smartly stamped her foot in refusal to live in a musty old plantation (1760), so the eager husband hired fashionable Baltimore architect Norris Starkweather who designed a fancy Italianate country manor, among the nation’s first houses to boast central heating and cooling, gas lights, running water in each bedroom, and inside toilets.  Little Eliza got exactly what she wanted, the William Pratt House.  The home’s showy tower (an easy target) was obliterated by a ball from a Union gunboat (1862) and was never restored.  Found on the property were English silver peace tokens inscribed to “The King of the Machotick” and to “The King of Patomeck”, Powhatan chiefs, we assume.

Julia Ward Howe, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.  credit: Frank C. Stanley, Elise Stevenson (1908)



This hopeful song is rumored to have been composed by Patrick Gilmore after discovering his sister kneeling, praying for the safe return of her fiancé from battle in the distant, steamy South.  Lately, the news has not been good for the North.  A cheery melody, a hopeful jingle should accomplish the business of rousing a spirited soldier.  Yes, just the thing.  He will like this one … everyone does.  You wonder, “Hum … did Miss Gilmore’s fiancé return.” (Yes, he did: Captain John O’Rourke and Annie Gilmore married in 1875.)

When Johnny comes marching home again
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

Ashton Villa Picturesque Song

Ashton Villa, Galveston. credit: Galveston Historical Foundation

Rebecca Ashton, wife of Colonel James Moreau Brown, owner and builder of Ashton Villa, named the home in honor of her ancestor, Lt. Isaac Ashton, hero of the War for Independence.  The house became the Confederate Army’s headquarters until captured by the Union, when it became the Union Army headquarters until recaptured by the Confederates.  On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, took possession of Ashton Villa, and it is rumored that upon the steps he read General Order No. 3 (commonly known as the Juneteenth Proclamation) which emancipated the enslaved people.  A year from that day, Galveston witnessed the first Juneteenth celebration.  The War to End Slavery had concluded.  The war’s songs are with us yet.

Patrick Gilmore, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”.  credit: John Terrell, baritone (1898)


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Featured image: Edward Sachse, “American Scene – The Country House” (detail), 1865. credit: Kelly Kinzle


Sherman's Neckties with a shelled Italianate house.

Sherman’s Neckties with a shelled Italianate house in the background. photographer unknown


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