Rayolight Productions has released what could be the first ever recording of a musical piece originally published and performed during the American Civil War. “The Battle of Roanoke Island. Story of an Eye Witness. Musically Portrayed by Charles Grobe.” is a musical recounting of The Battle of Roanoke Island that took place on February 7 and 8 in 1862, in which northern forces overwhelmed Confederate soldiers securing the island and later the Outer Banks for the remainder of the war.
“I originally came across the sheet music while working on another project,” said the project’s director Raymond Wallace, “and after spending weeks trying to find a recording of the piece, I realized that such a recording very likely may not exist.”
It was at that point that Wallace reached out to his collaborator Doug Dino and set out to not only audibly record the historic piece, but also create a visual accompaniment. “It’s a kind of visual re-enactment of how the piece would have been performed back in its time,” said Wallace.
“Such musical pieces were written and performed mostly in the northern states during the Civil War as a means of spreading the good news of battles won by the northern forces,” said Dino, the project’s narrator. “They would have been performed much like a newsreel of its time, helping to inspire and boost public morale for the war.”
Originally created by prolific composer Charles Grobe, the piece recounts the northern forces’ efforts as they first set sail from Hatteras Inlet, onward to the battle and their eventual victory. The piece concludes with a recounting of selected names of those who gave their lives in the battle. In what is most likely the first performance of the piece in more than 160 years, The Battle of Roanoke serves as another reminder of the important role that Roanoke Island played in American history.