Olde Towne Brass
1st Brigade Band
1st Brigade Band, 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee.
Picture taken in front of Huntsville Hotel, Huntsville, Alabama, 1864
This band was organized in the new town of Brodhead, Wisconsin by Edwin Oscar Kimberly and a handful of like-minded citizens, in 1857. Named, the Brodhead Tin Band, due to the starter set of tin horns, the band quickly found favor and was becoming a regional success, as 2 years later, they were headed for Illinois to play a rally for Presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln. By this time, they had replaced their horns and were now called the Brodhead Brass Band (or B.B.B.).
Two years later, the band joined the fight to preserve the Union and attached themselves to the 3rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. They were issued a new set of 23 brass horns and one silver cornet, which E.O. Kimberly played. After a few months of faulty leadership, Kimberly was appointed bandmaster. Soon he realized that band had problems. Men were often sick and when they were able, the disrepair of their new set of horns would prove overwhelming. They claimed their old tin horns were better than Government Issue.
During the Valley Campaign of 1862, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson’s advances forced such a quick retreat of Union forces, that soldiers were abandoning equipment to speed their regress. Many bandsmen discarded their worthless instruments, as well. Without funding to purchase more horns, their enlistments were allowed to expire and in July of 1862, they were discharged.
18 month later, they were reorganized as the 1st Brigade Band. Band and community members purchased a matching set of silver horns and percussion. Before leaving for their assignment in Huntsville, AL they serenaded the gathered crowd with “When This Cruel War is Over & Hoist Up the Flag.”
"Huntsville, Monday, May 16.....A band of twenty men arrived from Brodhead
Wisconsin, last evening to be assigned to 1st Brigade, 3d
Division, 15th Army Corps. Early in the evening they opened
in front of 12th Battery headquarters, formed a circle, and
in the gentle twilight played numerous airs, patriotic and melancholy;
the sweetest of all, "Home Sweet Home". The green was covered with
soldiers, lying at full length, dreamily enjoying the sweet music,
forgetful of all the past, in blissful forgetfulness of all things real.
The instruments were of German silver, making a very good appearance.
May they serve us such a treat often."
Within a month, the band was placed on a gunboat, running reconnaissance on the Tennessee River. Before the boat rounded the bend to begin shelling a Rebel fort, Kimberly had the band placed ashore. It is uncertain whether the fort was first bombarded by canon or by the band playing “Yankee Doodle.”