Tenting Tonight
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Used courtesy of Benjamin Tubb of
The Music of the American Civil War (1861-1865)



Information
Lyrics
The tune was first published in 1864. However, Walter Kittredge (1834-1905) wrote the words and music earlier as it was popular during much of the Civil War. The sheet music by Ditson (1864) notes that the sheet music was arranged and adapted by the Hutchinson Family. Kittredge spent part of his singing career as a member of the Hutchinson Family, so it is likely the tune was picked up through their singing and became popular before the sheet music was issued. Jerry Silverman writes that Kittredge wrote the tune in 1863 in response to receiving his draft notice.

The tune was originally published as Tenting on the Old Camp Ground although it became popularly known as Tenting Tonight. It was popular with both civilians and soldiers on both sides during the American Civil War.

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.

We've been tenting tonight on the old camp-ground,
Thinking of days gone by
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand,
And the tear that said, "Good-by !"

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.

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.

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.

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 Chorus
Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts looking for the light,
To see the dawn of peace.
Dying tonight, dying tonight,
Dying on the old camp-ground.
Related Links
  • Civil War Links
    Great page of links, well organized. Links to everything from battles to letters and diaries.
  • Civil War
Lyrics from The Mudcat Cafe
Information from The Civil War Songbook and
Ballads and Songs of the Civil War
See Bibliography for full information.