Blood on the Potomac

location Shot from the film Gods and Generals - Photo by: Terry Tabb

On July 4th, 1861, Frederick Roeder, an anti-secessionist and a supporter of Mr. Lincoln’s cause, ventured out onto the banks of the Potomac with the hope of catching sight of the Stars and Stripes flying over the Maryland side of the river. Ironically, a single discharge from the gun of a Union soldier would make this German born immigrant the first citizen of Harpers Ferry to fall during the conflict. Soon after, his home and business holdings, including the White Hall Tavern, would be confiscated and utilized by Northern forces.

Bar at the White Hall Tavern in Harpers Ferry

Interior of White Hall tavern in Harpers FerryFourteen months later, rebel soldiers under the command of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson would be shouting their own victory toasts at the little pub on Potomac Street after the successful capture of the town.  That revelry though would soon be tempered  by the events of September 17th, 1862. On that savage summer’s day, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia would clash with the forces of General George B. McClellan on Maryland ground near Antietam Creek. That single day of fighting would prove to be the bloodiest day in American history, with both sides suffering staggering losses.

As we take this time to remember and pay tribute to those who fought and perished on behalf of both the North and South at the Battle of Antietam, we invite our readers to once again experience the moving words of the late Jack Hardy as he chronicles the Civil War through the eyes of the young men from a Pennsylvania regiment. 

Click here to listen to  The 111th Pennsylvane.

Posted by: Chris Poh


Another Sad Farewell

Jack Hardy

 As the authors of American Public House Review take a few days to share some personal observations about the Civil War, it is only fitting that we also take the time to honor the memory of singer/songwriter Jack Hardy who passed away on March 11th of this year. Jack was a good friend who always generously gave of his time and boundless talent. We were privileged to have had the opportunity to  include some his work in our online publication. Especially, The 111th Pennsylvane, which, as I stated in an earlier post, is certainly one of the very best historical ballads ever written!

When Jack wasn’t mentoring some struggling folk artist at his apartment in Greenwich Village, there was a very good possibility he might be raising a pint at some pub in Ireland, or enjoying a glass of homemade wine at his second home in the Catskill  region of upstate New York. Interestingly, not far from this location another celebrated musician had crafted a hauntingly beautiful tune that would become forever associated with the war between the North and South.

Jay Ungar In 1982, Jay Ungar composed  “Ashokan Farewell,” a waltz melody that would later be used as the  theme for the 1990 Ken Burns PBS documentary, The Civil War. The piece is played 25 times during the eleven hours of film, and is used most notably during the reading of  Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife in episode one.

Ashokan Farewell” is a song about sad goodbyes–a lamenting strain that mourns the passing of time, the passing of friends, and the passing of  a way of life. It is the perfect piece of music to help us remember that great struggle that set brother against brother. And it is also the perfect piece of music to help us remember the life of  one who was a true friend and brother to America’s musical community–Jack Hardy.

  Follow this  link to hear Jay Ungar and Molly Mason perform “Ashokan Farewell.”

Posted by: Chris Poh


Published in: Uncategorized on April 21, 2011 at 6:39 pm  Comments (1)  
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Possibly the Best Civil War Ballad Ever Written

During the month of July American Public House Review has focused on locations and articles germane to colonial America and the struggle for independence. The entire staff, including our one citizen of the realm –Dunmore Throop, agree that a good revolution needs to be celebrated for more than just one day. So one might ask, “Why the Civil War Ballad?’

The Civil War is in many ways an extension of the American Revolution. Those compromises made at Philadelphia in 1776, over the issues of slavery and state’s rights, in order to gain a unanimous vote for sovereignty and self-rule planted the seeds for the inevitable civil crisis.

On July 4th, 1863 Vicksburg surrendered to Grant, and in the north the cannons at Gettysburg fell silent by midday. While armed conflict would continue for almost two more years, the war was essentially over. The union of states founded on the 4th of July 1776, would be saved on this particular anniversary of our nation’s independence.

Please take a few minutes to listen to The 111th Pennsylvane by Jack Hardy from the release Civil Wars. Our staff collectively believes that this may be one of the best historical ballads ever written. Enjoy!

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher

Another Great Train Song

Virginia & Truckee No. 18 Dayton

The June issue of American Public House Review will visit saloons in Gold Hill and Virginia City Nevada. Connecting these classic western mining towns is the famed Virginia and Truckee Railroad. As we explore this enduring western landscape via bar and steel rails we thought it only fitting to include one of our favorite train songs. 

Jack Hardy We thank Greenwich Village based singer songwriter Jack Hardy for allowing us to use “The Zephyr (Take It Slow)” to provide a bit of traveling music during this month’s journey. 

Jack has been a major influence in American folk music since the 1960s. He is also the founder/editor of Fast Folk Musical Magazine. This non-profit publication and record label, which promoted independent artists, counts amongst its alumni – Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Julie Gold, Tracy Chapman, John Gorka, Richard Shindell and Michelle Shocked.

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher – American Public House review


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