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In Their Own Words

September 08, 1861

Diary Entry on Strange Effects of Music

A Georgia Civil War soldier in North Carolina wrote in his diary of an amusing episode in which some natives apparently had not heard music before.

“…This morning (8th) Col. Wight invited us to accompany him across Croatan Sound to the mainland, for selecting a suitable place for a battery. So soon as we landed, we played Dixie, it perhaps the first time it was ever played there. Some of the inhabitants hearing the music were so much frightened, that they even left their houses. After walking about on the beach some little time, we went to a house not far off, and in it found an old man weighing about two hundred and fifty pounds, and an old woman who said she ‘wernt afeerd’. We then played several other tunes frightening the old man’s little dog nearly to death. When we commenced playing, the old man’s son ‘Jake’ left for parts unknown, thinking us to be Yankees. …”

Source: Clyde G. Wiggins III (ed.), My Dear Friend: The Civil War Letters of Alva Benjamin Spencer, 3rd Georgia Regiment, Company C (Macon, Mercer University Press, 2007), pp. 26-27.