From Tin Band to Brass Band -- One Civil War Band's Journey to Excellence

Claude Bauer

Forum Host
Jan 8, 2012
Just before the war, they had cheap instruments and none could play or even read music, so they were known as the "Brodhead Tin Band" by the locals of Bordhead, Wisconsin instead of the "Brodhead Brass Band." However, after two tours with Union troops during the Civil War as the 1st Brigade Band, Gen. Sherman described them as no less than the model band of his entire army.

In the Grand Review parade held in Washington at war's end, they were the only band mentioned by name in the newspapers. They returned to Brodhead as heroes.

Today, the 1st Brigade Band is an affiliate of the Wisconsin Historical Society and is supported and sponsored by Heritage Military Music Foundation, Inc.

The 1st Brigade Band has recorded in the MAKING HISTORY LIVE series, the most complete anthology of Civil War Music ever attempted.You can get their music through the gift shop online:



Oct 24, 2019
This is an interesting band story. Thanks for the post. The bands often had varied reputations but contests seem to be a part of camp life to ward off the boredom of camp life.

I posted a band contest story in my thread, John Columbus Haines, Musician on this same forum beginning on Feb. 1. 2020. The contest involves the 104th Ohio band and is in posts #8-12.


May 17, 2019
Fairfax, VA
And as a shameless plug, we did an interview with the 1st Brigade Band's historian, Ed Pierce. In the interview, we talk about the 1st Brigade in the 19th-century and the 20th/21st-centuries :smile:


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