About the Wildcats

Instruments, Uniforms and Music

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The Instruments

The cornets and saxhorns played by the Wildcat Band today are the same as the instruments Saxhorn Bells that were in service during battle and dress parades in 1861. All of the horns date from the Civil War era, some as early as 1845. Refurbished with the skill of a true craftsman, these instruments are once again playing the melodies heard more than a century ago.

Among the instruments making up the Wildcat Regiment Band today are valved bugles, cornets, and an assortment of alto, tenor, baritone and bass saxhorns and rope tension drums. The various designs of horns introduce the audience to the assortment of instruments common in that period. One such design was referred to as the "over the shoulder" horn. This particular pattern was very popular with military bands and was used in parade format so troops following the band could clearly hear the music.

The Music

Much of regimental band music that was performed had its roots in the small town "cornet bands" of the 19th century. MusicIt was natural for their music to accompany the bandsmen as they filled the ranks of the regimental band. Quicksteps, ballads, overtures and marches played by the Wildcat Regiment Band was the same musical pieces that once touched the lives of soldiers and civilians, providing comfort, encouragement and a spirit of patriotism. Reading Handwritten musicMany of these original 19th century arrangements were taken from band books found in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution and Library of Congress, as well as from private collections. Among the selections performed are "Lurline Quickstep", "Carnival Waltz", "Old K. Y, Ky", "Hunters Chorus from the Rose of Erin" and "Puritani Quickstep".

The Dress

From brass buttons and simple hand stitching, to wooden pegged brogans, the Wildcat Regiment Band brought authenticity in dress and manner. The band's uniforms - sewn from natural wool fibers - were authentic in every detail, and patterned from actual specimens worn by Pennsylvania bandsmen in the Union army.