George F. Root
George F. Root

George Frederick Root was born in Sheffield, Massachussets in 1820. From an early age, he showed remarkable musical abilities, mastering no fewer than thirteen different instruments by the age of 12. Although not gifted with vocal abilities to match his instrumental prowess, he nevertheless became a voice instructor in Boston, teaching both privately and in schools. Root eventually began composing, writing in the classical genre. He also became a partner in the Chicago-based music publishing firm of Root and Cady, sold instruments and songbooks, and published The Song Messenger of the Northwest, a music-oriented periodical.

When the War Between the States broke out, Root began to write patriotic songs for the Union war effort. Although his earlier attempts at popular pieces had so embarrassed him that he signed them with the name "Wurzel" (German for "root"), so as not to compromise his reputation as a serious composer, he showed no hesitation in turning out song after song. Classics such as "The Battle Cry of Freedom," "Just Before the Battle, Mother," and "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!" established him as perhaps the most popular and certainly the most prolific of wartime composer/songwriters.

"Battle Cry of Freedom" || "Battle Cry of Freedom" (Southern version) || "Call 'Em Names, Jeff" || "Just Before the Battle, Mother" || "Starved in Prison" || "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!" || "The Vacant Chair"

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Last modified 16-April-2001