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  1. #1
    East_TN_Rebel Guest

    Bagpipes in the war

    Were bagpipes used by either side during the war? If so, does anyone have any details on what units may have had them?

    Thanks,

    Don McLain
    East_TN_Rebel
    (Ancestors were in the 31st East Tennessee Regiment/39th Tennessee Mounted Infantry. CSA)

  2. #2
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    Re: Bagpipes in the war

    Greetings,

    The obvious possibilities would be any Scots-themed regiments raised during the war. One in particular is the 79th New York "Cameron Highlanders":

    http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/H...9/history.html

    Another unit might be the 12th Illinois "First Scotch":

    http://www.rootsweb.com/~ilcivilw/reg_html/012_reg.htm

    Indeed, during my periodic newspaper searches I uncovered an interesting article discussing the presentation of a unique Scots-motif "Thistle" flag to the 12th Illinois in late 1861.

    There were likely other such regiments but, from what I've seen, there are far more "Rebel bagpipers" today than there ever were during the war. Better to stay away from that stuff unless you can definitely prove it. You might also want to check such works as Wm. L. Burton's "Melting Pot Soldiers" and Ella Lonn's "Foreigners in the Confederacy" and "Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy." I would be particularly careful in using Burton's book--it's a reasonably good overview but some of his material (at least that dealing with ethnic German units) is either debatable or even wrong.

    Regards,

    Mark Jaeger

  3. #3
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    Re: Bagpipes in the war

    Before someone else reacts more violently-
    there are no documented instances of the bagpipes being used in the American Civil War by any unit, north or south. It just didn't happen. No unit was 'piped into battle' Not even the 79th. Period- A bagpiper at a CW battle reenactment/LH is about as period appropriate as a full suit of plate armor on a brigade commander-sure there were both plate armors and brigade commanders- but not ever together on a CW battlefield.
    Leland Hares, 10th Tennessee (U.S.)

  4. #4
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    Re: Bagpipes in the war

    Hi Leland,

    >"there are no documented instances of the bagpipes being used in the >American Civil War by any unit, north or south. It just didn't happen."

    And your documented evidence would be.....?

    I'm not saying you're wrong, and I would even tend to agree that units were not "piped into battle," but to say that Scots-themed regiments didn't use bagpipes in, say, parades or at reviews seems to be a bit of a stretch. You'll have to come up with more convincing evidence than a flat assertion.

    Regards,

    Mark Jaeger

  5. #5
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    Re: Bagpipes in the war

    Greetings,

    Here are two specific regimental bibliographies for the 79th NYVI and the 12th Illinois:

    http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usamhi/.../inf/79inf.doc

    http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usamhi/.../inf/12inf.doc

    These should provide additional details regarding possible use of bagpipes in Scots-themed regiments.

    Regards,

    Mark Jaeger

  6. #6
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    Re: Bagpipes in the war

    Too bad the archives aren't available yet. This issue was covered pretty thoroughly in a previous thread. Those earlier posts re the 79th NY provided details of their full dress parade before leaving for the front. They marched to a brass band supposedly.

    My guess is that very few Americana at the time of the mid 19th century had ever heard a bag pipe, and virtually none had played on these shores. It would be interesting to ask what evidence there is to refute this. I am sure there must be some exception, and that information might be interesting in itself. Can anyone provide any accounts of bagpipes being played in the U.S. before or at anytime during the American Civil War?

    Fred, please sign your posts with your full name. The auto-signature feature in the user profile is the best way to do this. mc
    Last edited by dusty27; 12-16-2003 at 02:46 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bagpipes in the war

    Go back to the Revolutionary War and the French & Indian war, and you'll find Highland (British) regiments complete with pipers. Several regiments were stationed here in the States (before they were the states)... including the 72nd Seaforth, and the 74th as well, if I recall my husband's books correctly. the 72nd had men stationed in Canada during the American Civil War as well... though none ever "invaded" southward.

    It's important to remember that quite a lot of the Scots immigrants to the US just after 1745 were political prisoners, refugees, etc... and the Proscription Act covered them: owning or making tartan, wearing kilts, playing bagpipes, and several other culturally related activities were punishable--quite severely punishable.

    While such activities were overlooked more often in America (how often is the King's man going to inspect the backwoods of Cape Fear??), pipes and other niceties aren't likely to be seen outside of heavily concentrated Scots areas of the US.

    I seem to recall something about there having been a piper at the Alamo (which would be a good reason for the Mexicans to keep attacking, if he wasn't tuned properly in all that arrid land.)

    So, yes, pipes had been used in war previous to the CW... but their use in the CW (for battle or "hanging around camp) is not supportable to my mind (and I adore pipes, married a piper.) I would expect to see their use at Scottish social club parties (like St. Andrew's Day balls), but not many other places.

    From a practical standpoint, trying to haul pipes into battle conditions is like dressing a three-year-old in a snow suit in July. It's possible, but not pleasant for anyone.
    Regards,
    Elizabeth Clark
    Citizen Moderator

  8. #8
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    Re: Bagpipes in the war

    There were many scottish clubs and organisations in chicago before and during the civil war. these clubs probably would have had plenty of people who had and played pipes. This is the area where the 12th ILL. came from. The 12th's commanding officer, John Mac Arthur, was a member of the scottish cultural society, and was president of the Illinois St. Andrews Society shortly after the war. A good chunk of the men in the 12th ILL. had been part of the Chicago Highland Guard, a militia unit before the war that wore kilts and feather bonnets. So I think that there is a very good chance that somebody in the 12th Illinois had and played pipes at some point during the war. I can't say either way as to the 79th NY, because I know nothing much about them, but I've been researching the 12th for 3 years.

    Ian Baker

  9. #9
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    Re: Bagpipes in the war

    Greetings,

    I found these 18th Century American newspaper references to bagpipers--they may be of some interest. It appears that even some blacks were handy with the instrument:

    http://www.polisci.ucla.edu/faculty/boneill/runaway.txt

    This article discusses the post-"Forty-five" Proscription Act:

    "Rowland Berthoff. "Celtic Mist over the South." The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 52, No. 4. (Nov., 1986), pp. 523-546.

    It indicates that the Proscription Act was never fully enforced or obeyed and proscriptions on Highland dress and bagpiping were effectively revoked in Scotland even before the end of the American Revolution.

    I had enough time to look on the "Making of America" (U of MI site) and found the following interesting work incorporating a description of George Washington's Inaugural Parade in New York:

    Author: Griswold, Rufus Wilmot, 1815-1857.
    Title: The republican court; or, American society in the days of Washington. By Rufus Wilmot Griswold.
    Publication date: 1856.

    It indicates that "...the Highland Infantry [marched in the procession], in full Highland uniform, with bagpipes" (page 139).

    The above, of course, doesn't necessarily prove anything in regards to Civil War-era piping. However, I would certainly invite you-uns to investigate the Cornell and U of MI "Making of America" sites further since I saw numerous potential "hits" dealing with antebellum and wartime use of bagpipes.

    Regards,

    Mark Jaeger

  10. #10
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    Re: Bagpipes in the war

    Tough job- document a lack of period documentation?I thought it worked the other way around.
    I have not found them mentioned in the OR's, any regimental or individual history or newspaper account I've read or in any secondary source I have perused.
    As someone below said, this matter was heavily discussed in the past and hopefully the archives can be salvaged.
    So- Mark- refute my statement if you can- find documention for the use of bagpipes by any unit on either side during the American Civil War- Accepting that they existed is a given and that some people knew how to play them is a given, prove their use in military units during the war-

    No rancour felt or intended
    Leland


    Quote Originally Posted by markj
    Hi Leland,

    >"there are no documented instances of the bagpipes being used in the >American Civil War by any unit, north or south. It just didn't happen."

    And your documented evidence would be.....?

    I'm not saying you're wrong, and I would even tend to agree that units were not "piped into battle," but to say that Scots-themed regiments didn't use bagpipes in, say, parades or at reviews seems to be a bit of a stretch. You'll have to come up with more convincing evidence than a flat assertion.

    Regards,

    Mark Jaeger
    Leland Hares, 10th Tennessee (U.S.)

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