Olde Towne Brass
102nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regimental Band
Silver Cornet Band of the 102nd Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry,
atop the Burleson House, Decatur, Alabama, April 1865.
The 102nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry served in North Alabama from September 1864 through June 1865. During that time, the troops guarded the Tennessee & Alabama Central Rail Road, from Decatur, AL to Columbia, TN. They were entrenched during the Confederate siege of Decatur and successfully held the city.
On the second day of the siege, lines of opposing troops stood in sight of each other. Corporal Emuel G. Richards led the band of the 102nd OVI in playing “Yankee Doodle,” as they raised the flag over the city. Immediately following that, a Confederate, from across the way, played “Dixie,” to the delight of the Confederate troops. Now another Battle of the Bands had started. The 102nd played “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Confederates answered with "The Bonnie Blue Flag." The impromptu concert was “kept up for some time” (Will McTeer, Loyal Mountain Troopers, the Second and Third Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry in the Civil War) before fighting resumed.
“Our regiment boasts of a brass band and a good one too, for the time they have to practice.” (Letter to home by J.C.B. of Company F.)
Upon notice of President Lincoln’s death, the band played a concert of dirges and other appropriate music from the “widow’s walk” of the Burleson House; which was being used as headquarters. Only 3 Decatur buildings survived the war: The Burleson House, the Dancy-Polk House and the Old State Bank. All the others were destroyed to build fortifications or burned.
Photo courtesy of Marcus McLemore