- Virginia Johnson
Two armies faced each other in winter camps across the Rappahannock River. The fighting in December had gone very badly for the Union as they tried to take the Confederate position at Marye’s Heights. Friends and sometimes family had been killed, and the Southern town of Fredericksburg was largely left in ruins.
For months, these two enemy armies went about their business on opposite sides of the river. During those long days and nights, they weren’t firing cannons anymore, but they were sending out volleys of music to lift their soldiers’ spirits. Each side had its patriotic songs. Often they had the same tune but different words, and each side would sing and cheer their own bands.
On those winter nights, they might close with a special tune. One that everyone sang the same words to: “Home, Sweet Home.”
Debbie Levy’s Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War tells what happened during that wartime Christmas when a shared longing for peace and comfort of home—wherever that might be—brought men divided by war together, if only for the space of a song.
Gilbert Ford’s vibrant illustrations underscore the text, which includes short letters soldiers on both sides wrote home as well as songs and music they would have loved.
Soldier Song is an inspiring picture book for older readers—or listeners. It takes a factual incident from the Civil War and makes the story more human than a simple accounting of casualties and tactics ever could.
Whether you live in our library’s service area or plan on visiting us, you will want to check out Soldier Song and also tour the cemeteries for Northern and Southern soldiers, while spending time, too, at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center near Marye’s Heights.