Music was very important to soldiers and civilians alike during the Civil War. People amused themselves at night by singing together in the parlor, reading out loud, or playing games like cards or checkers. The songs of the day expressed political opinion and excitement about the glory of their cause, but also the longing they felt for loved ones far away. The armies used music to martial the troops, to stir their resolve, and to mourn the lost.
While listening to these melodies, imagine a campfire, a few soldiers sitting around it, maybe one with a violin (or fiddle), singing. And at home, by candlelight, a lady playing the piano and singing quietly to herself.
Stephen Foster, the most popular songwriter of the war:
Civil war sheet music
Stephen Foster: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/foster/sfeature/sf_foster.html#