The rank of Musician was a position held by military band members, particularly during the American Civil War. The rank was just below Corporal, and just above Private. In some units it was more or less equal to the rank of Private.
During the American Civil War, military leaders with the Union and Confederate Armies relied on military musicians to entertain troops, position troops in battle, and stir them on to victory—some actually performing concerts in forward positions during the fighting.
There were two types of historical traditions in military bands. The first was military field music. This type of music included bugles, bagpipes, or fifes and almost always drums. This type of music was used to control troops on the battlefield as well as for entertainment. One example of controlling the troops was the drum beats setting the march cadence for the troops. Following the development of instruments such as the keyed trumpet or the saxhorn family of brass instruments, a second tradition of the all brass military band was formed.
During the American Civil War most Union regiments had both types of groups within the unit.
Several U.S. Army Musicians were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Civil War. These recipients include:
- William J. Carson (Musician)
- John Cook (Bugler)
- Richard Enderlin (Musician)
- Benjamin F. Hilliker (Musician)
- William H. Horsfall (Drummer)
- Orion P. Howe (Musician)
- Willie Johnston (Musician)
- John S. Kountz (Musician)
- James P. Landis (Chief Bugler)
- J. C. Julius Langbein (Musician)
- William Lord (Musician)
- William Magee (Drummer)
- Robinson B. Murphy (Musician)
- George H. Palmer (Musician)
- John T. Patterson (Principal Musician)
- Charles W. Reed (Bugler)
- Ferdinand F. Rohm (Chief Bugler)
- Charles Schorn (Chief Bugler)
- Julian A. Scott (Drummer)
- James Snedden (Musician)
- Alason P. Webber (Musician)
- Thomas M. Wells (Chief Bugler)
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