Tenting on the Old Camp Ground: About the Song

Song History

"Tenting on the Old Camp Ground" was written in 1863 by a young New Hampshire musician named Walter Kittredge. The inspiration for this moving plea for peace came while Kittredge was preparing to answer the draft call he had received to fight in the Union army. The Civil War was the first American war to have a general military draft, and men were drafted to fight on both sides of the conflict. It turned out that Kittredge was unable to serve in the army due to a childhood bout with rheumatic fever, but the song was an instant success, demonstrating tremendous and lasting appeal with civilians and soldiers alike.


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

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

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 "Goodbye"

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

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

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