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Published on May 7, 2012
MerleFest 2012 - Watson Stage: The Claire Lynch Band performs "Dear Sister".
I co-wrote "Dear Sister" with Louisa Branscomb when she brought a book to my attention which had been compiled by her distant cousin in Alabama. The book titled "Dear Sister: Civil War Letters to a Sister in Alabama." is a collection of letters written to Louisa's great great, great aunt, Lucinda Caroline Branscomb Hunter living in Union Springs AL, who had four brothers fighting in the Civil War. Lucinda saved all the letters, concealed them in a box and stored them in a trunk which miraculously hermetically sealed them to preserve them until the 20th century when the family found them in the attic of the old house. Louisa's cousin, Frank Chappell from Huntsville Alabama took possession of the letters and compiled them into the book, then donated the actual letters to a museum in Alabama.
The song tells of a battle on the Stone's River near Murfreesboro, Tenn. where Louisa now lives. In those days, each regiment had a musical band that would travel with them and keep morale up with their songs. On the eve before the biggest battle of Stone's River on a cold night in December, the Union and Confederate troops played songs across the holler from each other - a sort of 1800's "battle of the bands". Then all at once one side began playing "Home Sweet Home" and the opposing forces joined in. For those few fleeting moments they all shared those sentiments they could not deny: the love of peace, harmony, home and, I suspect, the fear of losing those precious commodities.