Item #7197 [Bound volume of sheet music including “The Children of the Battle Field.”]. James G. Clark.
[Bound volume of sheet music including “The Children of the Battle Field.”]
[Bound volume of sheet music including “The Children of the Battle Field.”]
[Bound volume of sheet music including “The Children of the Battle Field.”]

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[Bound volume of sheet music including “The Children of the Battle Field.”]

Philadelphia: Lee & Walker, 1864. 4to (13.375” x 10.75”), three quarters red calf with pebbled brown cloth over boards, “Music” gilt stamped in one of six compartments at spine, red leather and gilt title piece at upper cover reading “Robeson.” 33 pieces, 4 with lithographic covers (“Children of the Battle Field”; “Highland Mary”; “Nearest and Dearest”; “We Now Must Part”). Total of 134 pp., including lithographic covers. Numerous paper reinforcements to margins. CONDITION: Covers very good-, rubbed at extremities, white stains to cloth; contents very good, occasional foxing throughout. “Children of the Battlefield” cover trimmed at right edge with slight loss to ornamental border.

Scarce sheet music sold for the benefit of three children orphaned by the Battle of Gettysburg, illustrated with a lithograph based on an ambrotype portrait of the children found in their dead father’s hand.

The music is preceded by a “Sketch” describing the melancholic scene of the slain and unidentified soldier’s body found on the fields of Gettysburg “clasping in his hand an ambrotype of his three little children. No other incident of the present fratricidal war is known to have so touched the heart of the nation.” The ambrotype came into the possession of one J. Fancis Bourns, M.D., of Philadelphia, who had traveled to Gettysburg to tend to the wounded. Bourns reproduced the ambrotype in The Philadelphia Inquirer, hoping that its greater circulation would lead to the identification of the soldier and the identification of—and perhaps even some financial support for—the now fatherless family. Numerous newspapers throughout the country publicized the story, and in time the family was identified as that of Sgt. Amos Humiston, from Portville, New York, a sergeant in the 154th New York Volunteers. A note on both the title and sketch pages of this music notifies readers that “the net proceeds of the sales of this Music are reserved for the support and education of the Orphan Children.”

The Children of the Battle Field, written for piano and voice, is apparently a faithful transcription of its performance “by the author, at his ballad entertainments.” The lyrics begin thus:

Up - on the field of Gettys - burg The summer sun was high, When freedom met her haughty foe, Beneath a northern sky; A - mong the he-roes of the North, Who swelled her grand ar-ray, And rushed like moun - tain eagles forth From happy homes a - way. There stood a man of humble fame, A sire of children three, And gazed within a little frame, Their picture form to see. And blame him not, if in the strife, He breathed a soldier’s prayer: O Father, shield the soldier’s wife, And for his children care, And for his chil-dren care.

The front cover notes that “this song is most cordially and respectfully dedicated by the author to J. Francis Bourns M.D. of Philadelphia.” John W. Mears, editor of the American Presbyterian, offers the following commendation:

In view of the very humane and worthy object contemplated in this publication, and in the hope that its wide circulation may stimulate patriotism and help keep alive in the national heart a sense of the unspeakable indebtedness to the families who have been reduced to dependence by the heroic devotion and martyrdom of fathers, husbands, and sons, in the service of our common country, I cheerfully give my testimony to the correctness of the foregoing statement [the Sketch], and commend the “Children of the Battle Field” to the patronage of the loyal people.

An especially poignant example of Civil War sheet music.

REFERENCES: Morris, Errol. “Whose Father Was He? (Part One)” The New York Times, 29 March 2009.

Item #7197

Price: $575.00

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