War Songs


Music defines us. It details moments in our life, it cries the anthems of our souls, and marks points of which there is no turning back. It brings us together. And what better time to be brought together than during war. Some of our best and most memorable songs came from times of conflict, so let’s take a brief look back at these chart toppers for each struggle we Americans found ourselves in.

Revolutionary War. I can’t imagine any of us tapping our toes to these far gone tunes, but you’ll probably recognize God Save the King/Queen. We stole it from the Brits, and in an act of defiance changed it to My Country ‘Tis of Thee. Go us.


The Civil War drummed out songs to declare each side’s pride and right to win. Dixie thrummed Southerners heartstrings, and still does to this day in hopes that the South will rise again. Yankees much preferred Battle Hymn of the Republic, but I think it should be noted that Lincoln himself adored Dixie.

WWI was a pretty short war for Americans. We only entered for the last two years, so while most of the songs like It’s a Long Way to Tipperary and If You Were the Only Girl in the World were British, that didn’t stop us from putting out our own soundtrack. George M. Cohen wrote the rousing Over There as our doughboys marched off to fight the Hun.

The Andrews Sisters

The Andrews Sisters

Thanks to the radio, music poured over the airwaves as WWII exploded across the ocean. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, I’ll be Seeing You, and I’ll be Home for Christmas were crooned out to liven up patriotism and stir the heartstrings for home and loved ones.

Vietnam, Korean War, Cold War, and our recent troubles in the middle East have all brought on a slew of music to define the changing attitudes of our world like War, Fortunate Son, Born in the USA, and American Soldier. Any of your favorites I missed?

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.


  1. Kathleen Rouser

    I will just mention that as a child, when we learned about the Battle Hymn of the Republic being part of the music from the Civil War time period, I thought it was talking about Abraham Lincoln trampling out the “grapes of wrath.” I was in fact reminded of this as I was studying Chapter 14 of the book of Revelation for a Bible study, that it was clear they were singing about God’s judgment, which referred to His wrath and grapes. Had to chuckle at my childhood mistake! Lots of heart tugging songs came out of the wars we’ve been involved in, that’s for sure.

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      It is about God, but I can see how the northern public may have stretched for it to mean Lincoln as well. Or, you had a very active imagination as a child. Good for you! It makes better writers.

  2. Lisa Betz

    My mother-in-law, who grew up in WWII Germany, cannot stand to listen to “Deutschland, Deustchland uber alles” (even the tune) because it brings back so many bad memories. Songs are powerful at evoking emotion.

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      I had a neighbor who was a little girl in WWII Germany who could never stand the sight or thought of a German shepherd because she remembers them rounding up the Jews and patrolling with them. It’s sad sometime how innocent things can often be turned ugly against us.


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