Out & About

October 25, 2012

No army without music

'Connecticut Peddler' explores Civil War-era songs of New York state

PLATTSBURGH — Stan Ransom, “the Connecticut Peddler,” seized a sesquicentennial opportunity to cover “Civil War Songs of New York State” on his latest CD.

A CD-release party will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Corner-Stone Bookshop in Plattsburgh.

In his previous musical forays, Ransom focused on the Empire State in one way or another.

“I’m very much interested in New York state history,” Ransom said. “I’m working on a Revolutionary War CD right now. I’ve done the Battle of Plattsburgh.”

Between the start of the Civil War in 1861 and its conclusion in 1865, more than 10,000 songs were composed. He narrowed his focus to compositions with New York state, Connecticut and Long Island links. He found a half-dozen songs in the Marjorie Lansing Porter Collection at SUNY Plattsburgh.

“I did several by a person Marjorie Lansing Porter had taped back in 1950 just before she died. They called him Yankee John Galusha (1859 to 1950). Several of the songs he had gotten from his brother, Stillman (Galusha), an older brother who was in the Civil War, and eventually died of wounds toward the end of the war.”

“The Red, White and Red” was a song Stillman learned from a Confederate soldier.

“In the lulls of the fighting, they swapped songs back and forth, according to various sources,” Ransom said. “They all considered themselves home boys. There were a lot of relationships back and forth, different brothers taking different sides. It was not like you were fighting someone from the outside in a foreign country. It was your country. You knew a lot of people who were on the other side, but you still have to fight.”

“The Red, White and Red” referenced the colors of the earliest flag of the Confederate States.

“The Iron Merrimac” was a song heard by Judge Leonard Hand in the 1890s. Ransom found this song about the USS Merrimack, renamed the CSS Virginia, a steam-powered, ironclad warship.

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