The 1861 Project: From The Famine To The Front

'From The Famine To The Front', Volume 2 of Music from The 1861 Project (The 1861 Project)

‘From The Famine To The Front’, Volume 2 of The 1861 Project (The 1861 Project)

The 1861 Project was the brainchild of Nashville based musician, producer and songwriter Thomm Jutz. It seeks to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the conflict through the medium of music, and has seen the creation of a collection of new songs that deal with the war and it’s consequences. Central to the project is an imagining of what it must have been like for those individuals who were caught up in events between 1861 and 1865.

Volume 1 of the project looked at the start of the war, and is entitled From Farmers To Foot Soldiers. I recently had the good fortune to receive a copy of Volume 2 of the project- From The Famine To The Front- which as the name implies deals with the Irish experience of the American Civil War.* The cd contains no fewer than 21 tracks dealing with many different aspects of Irish involvement, both North and South. Jutz has brought together and impressive array of talent for the project; among those involved on the Famine To The Front cd are Maura O’Connell, Pat Alger and Jim Rooney, among many others. I commend the concept behind this cd; it is matched by the songwriting and music, which are a credit to all involved. The 1861 Project is a fascinating approach to engaging with the modern memory of the American Civil War, and is well worth exploring further. Indeed, From The Famine To The Front is in itself a form of memorialisation of the Irish experience of the conflict 150 years ago.

You can visit the 1861 Project website here, and the first three tracks of the album can be listened to for free here. The full playlist together with the stories they seek to tell are below.

1. The American Wake (Family and friends gather for a ‘American Wake’ before Irish immigrants leave for America)

2. Walking All The Way To Tennessee (The Scots-Irish in the South)

3. The Stonewall Of The West (General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne)

4. Peace (Patrick’s Cleburne’s aide recalls the Generals words of foreboding)

5. Susan Tarleton’s Lament (Cleburne’s fiancée learns of his death)

6. I Belong To Ireland (Based on an Irish poem, dealing with a dream to one day return to Ireland)

7. Four Men (Four men join the Union army inspired by Thomas Francis Meagher)

8. Irish Whiskey (The Irish Brigade celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in Falmouth)

9. Absolution (Father William Corby offers conditional absolution to the Irish Brigade before Gettysburg)

10. Dreaming Of Arthur McBride (An Irish-born Union soldier wishes he had done like Arthur McBride)

11. Free (General Thomas Francis Meagher)

12. A Loneliness (The loneliness of war)

13. Letters To Brendan (A young Union soldier follows his letters home to Ireland in his mind’s eye)

14. The Prayer (Father Ryan on Lookout Mountain)

15. Song Of The Mystic (Father Abram Joseph Ryan)

16. Nancy Malone (Based on the life of Arthur McCoy)

17. Old Berea Road (A Tennessee woman remembers her Irish lover)

18. Thunder (rain after the battle)

19. Americans (The motivations of Irish soldiers of the Union)

20. The Old Songs (The story of two people in the Civil War)

21. A Legacy

*Special thanks to the 1861 Project for supplying a copy of the album

Further Reading

The 1861 Project

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Categories: Music

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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