The best ACW camp music group????

Dad in his Army Air Force WWII uniform

Sgt. Robert E. Mingus

One of my fondest memories was a Saturday five years ago when my beloved Dad, a veteran of WWII then in his late 80s),  and I attended the annual Civil War relics and collectibles show in Mansfield, Ohio (a huge event that all Civil War buffs should attend at least once in their lifetimes). As Dad and I wandered around this sprawling show, we both paused for awhile to listen to a lively minstrel string band, dressed in Confederate reenactor uniforms. My Dad loved them and commented how authentic they sounded. He grew up in the southeastern Ohio Appalachian hill country during the Roaring ’20s  and was no stranger to good music. The group playing in Mansfield was the 2nd South Carolina String Band, and they were really entertaining.

My Dad passed away in May 2005 while I was on a business trip to Finland, and I struggled through a year and a half of depression, personal pain,  and heartache. Last summer, as my sons and my daughter-in-law attended the annual Gettysburg reenactment, we heard the lively strains of “Camptown Races” coming from one of the sutler’s tents. It turned out to be the very same band that my Dad and I had enjoyed on our final Civil War outing together. So many memories rushed back, and, frankly, it was a healing moment. I bought one of their CDs, Hard Road, and became hooked. For Christmas, my wonderful wife and best friend Debi gave me another of their CDs, this one a collection of camp songs entitled In High Cotton. During a book signing last month at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg (I sold out of my book that day!), I picked up another of the 2nd SC String Band’s outstanding CDs, this one being Southern Soldier, a nice blend of camp songs and martial tunes. It includes one of the very best renditions of “Dixie” that I have ever heard.


The members of  the 2nd South Carolina String Band first met as  infantry reenactors and discovered they had a common love for period music. They quickly became a favorite at reenactments and Civil War events, and now have an international following. Their website is

Their music is colorful, wonderfully rich in tone and sound, and the style is very much in line with the period. They have received considerable critical praise, as well as being recognized as one of the best minstrel bands in existance.  They provided music for several of Ken Burns’ PBS documentaries and can be seen in Ron Maxwell’s movie, Gods and Generals. The jackets for each CD contain historical commentary on each song – who composed it, a little about its introduction into American culture, and some tidbits of interest.

Have you heard them? If not, pick up one of their CDs and listen a few times. The music will grow on you each time you play it. Be warned that this is NOT POLITICALLY CORRECT for those of you who are sensitive to these kinds of things. They use the original words for the songs, including some racially sensitive material, as they are trying to be as close to an original South Carolina regimental string band as possible.

Categories: Civil War music | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The best ACW camp music group????

  1. Scott,

    I recently became hooked on the 2nd South Carolina String Band. I actually posted on my blog about them the day after you did. I have not had the pleasure as of yet to see the band live but hope to someday. I enjoy the commentary about each song as well. Good luck on your new blog.


  2. Joshua,

    I believe the band will again be at the annual Gettysburg Civil War reenactment. If you ever have a chance to get over to this part of the country, the reenactment is quite interesting (anniversary years ending in a 5 or 0 are much bigger in terms of number of reenactors and size of the overall event. 2008 is the 145th anniversary and will be a major event. This year’s reenactment is relatively small.

  3. Josh,

    There is a fourth CD from the 2nd South Carolina Strong Band released in 2006 entitled “Dulcem Meldodies.” I have not yet picked this one up, but I’m told it is just as good as their other ones.

    Great music!


  4. Scott,

    Yes, I am aware of the new cd. However, I still need to pick up In High Cotton first. I plan on purchasing it shortly. Do you know of any other good bands?


  5. Joshua,

    I enjoy a wide variety of Civil War music. My all-time favorite artist is Bobby Horton, who has produced a wide range of cassettes and CDs. His vocals are outstanding, and his intruments are excellent (banjo, guitar primarily). His music was featured on the TalonSoft series of Civil War PC computer games.

    Besides the 2nd SC String Band, you might also like the Heritage String Band and the 52nd Regimental String Band. Supposedly, the 97th Regimental String band is also good, but I have not heard any of their music.

  6. Hi Scott,

    I have just read your review of 2nd SC String Band and the other comments left to date. I can most definitely recommend all of the Cd’s produced by this band. When I paint figures I like to listen to period music and as I paint more ACW figures than anything else I have started to amass quite a collection.

    These range from movie soundtracks ( Gettysburg, Gods & Generals, Glory, Gettysburg The boys in Blue and Grey), Campfire songs (2nd SC String Band, Acoustic Shadows of Blue and Grey, Bobby Horton) to Fife and Drum ( Camp Chase Fifes and Drums, 119th NYSV Field Music).

    “Hard Road” by 2nd SC started my collection and drew me into the sounds of the period, “Southern Soldier” soon followed. Living in the UK has meant that most of my collection has been sourced using the Internet, this has meant usually finding out about a disc from a review such as this and then tracking down the disc to add to the collection.

    Although there are now an increasing number of groups producing discs a majority of them are only available locally or through a particular outlet within the reenactment circle so below I have produced a list of some of the groups and their web sites along with a link to a company call CDBaby where allot of civl war music can be found.

    I hope this list will allow others to enjoy the wide range of music available and make the tracking down of such discs a little easier.


    Andy Mac

    2nd SC String Band Southern Soldier
    Hard Road
    In high Cotton
    Dulcem Melodies
    Acoustic Shadows of Blue and Grey Marching the Road of Valor
    Echoes through Time I
    Echoes Through Time II
    Bobby Horton Homespun Music of the CSA 1-6
    Homespun Music off the Union Army 1-5
    Homespun Songs of Faith
    Dave Mathews Shades of Blue and Grey
    A Nations Broken Soul
    Jimmy Phillips Rebel Soldier
    Wayne Erbsen Battlefield Ballads of the Civil War
    Ballads and Songs of the Civil War
    Love Songs of the Civil War
    Southern Soldier Boy
    The Home Front
    52nd Regimental String Band Voices of Shiloh
    Voices of Gettysburg
    The Dissolution Wagon
    The Camp Chase Fifes and Drums Volumes 1-3
    Cumberland Blues Soldiers Joy
    5th Michigan Band Reflection of the Civil War
    Hymns of the Civil War period
    Echoes of the Civil War
    Sounds of the Civil War
    119th NYSV Field Music Volume 1
    26th NC Regt. Band Music on the March
    David Kincade The Irish Americans Song
    The Irish Volunteer

    Finally go to and type in American Civil war in the Miscellaneous box, there are many more that at the moment have yet to make to my colletion

  7. Pingback: Irish Music Marching Band

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