“Tenting Tonight”

Author: Walter Kittredge
Earliest date: 1864
Keywords: Civilwar battle death home music
Found in: US

Description

"We're tenting tonight on the old camp ground... Many are the hearts that are weary tonight, wishing for the war to cease... Tenting tonight (x2) Tenting on the old campground" The singer describes how the soldiers are lonely -- and often dying

Supplemental text

Tenting Tonight
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From sheet music published 1864 by Oliver Ditson & Co.
Title page inscribed
Tenting on the Old Camp Ground
      WORDS & MUSIC BY
      WALTER KITTREDGE
   Adapted & sung by the
     HUTCHINSON FAMILY
      "TRIBE OF ASA"

1. We're tenting tonight on the old Camp ground,
   Give us a song to cheer
   Our weary hearts, a song of home,
   And friends we love so dear.

CHORUS.
Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace.
Tenting tonight,
Tenting tonight,
Tenting on the old Camp ground.

2. We've been tenting tonight on the old Camp ground,
   Thinking of days gone by,
   Of the lov'd ones at home that gave us the hand,
   And the tear that said, "Good bye!"

3. We are tired of war on the old Camp ground,
   Many are the dead and gone,
   Of the brave and true who've left their homes,
   Others been wounded long.

4. We've been fighting today on the old Camp ground, .
   Many are lying near;
   Some are dead and some are dying,
   Many are in tears.

Last verse/Last Time.
Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace.
Dying tonight,
Dying tonight,
Dying on the old Camp ground.

Notes

Civil war historian Bruce Catton says that, during the war, this piece was second in popularity only to "When This Cruel War Is Over" among the sad songs. After the war, when the defeatist tone of "Cruel War" made it seem less patriotic, "Tenting Tonight" came to be first in the veterans' hearts.

Walter Kittredge (born 1834) composed this song in 1863 while under the threat of the draft. As it turned out, he was rejected for ill health. Publishers at first rejected the song as not martial enough -- but then it was picked up by the Hutchinson Family, and the rest is history. - RBW

Same tune

Recordings

References

  1. RJackson-19CPop, pp. 206-209, "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Silber-CivWar, pp. 50-51, "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Hill-CivWar, pp. 222-223, "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground" (1 text)
  4. Arnett, pp. 86-87, "Tenting Tonight" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Krythe 10, pp. 150-157, "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Darling-NAS, pp. 348-349, "Tenting Tonight" (1 text)
  7. Silber-FSWB, p. 289, "Tenting On The Old Camp Ground" (1 text)
  8. DT, TENTTNT* (TENTTNT2*)
  9. ST RJ19206 (Full)
  10. Roud #14045
  11. BI, RJ19206