Music is a powerful teaching tool in social studies and history that is often not used to the fullest extent possible. This song is a ballad that was written by one of General Lee’s aides as he sat in a Northern Army prison camp during the Civil War. His sentiments can show the strength of emotion felt by both sides of the conflict and bring subject matter more to life for students.
For music teachers who do a unit on the Civil War or for any history teachers who cover the subject matter Bobby Horton has several wonderful CDs with songs of both the Union and Confederate armies that are available for purchase here. A great lesson involves looking over the textual changes the two sides would make to the same exact song to reflect their political viewpoint. This can help drive home the notion of how folk songs change and shift over time, sometimes unintentionally, but sometimes with a very clear purpose or intent.