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C. Lavallée

C. Lavallée

Federal (USV)


Calixa Lavallée

(1842 - 1891)

Home State: Rhode Island

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 4th Rhode Island Infantry

Before Antietam

He trained as a musician and left home for the US in 1857. He was in New Orleans, then toured South America, Mexico, and the Carribean as an accompanist. He was living in Providence, RI at he start of the War. He enlisted as Private in the Band on 17 September 1861 and mustered into service on 21 October. He remained with the Regiment after most bandsmen, including his brother George, were mustered out on 16 August 1862.

On the Campaign

He was with the Regiment at Antietam in September 1862.

The rest of the War

He mustered out of service with the remaining members of the Band on 3 October 1862.

After the War

He returned to Montreal and performed and gave lessons. He was back in the States in 1865, traveling to New Orleans, San Diego, CA, then back to New England, where he married in 1867. He lived in Boston, then New York City, where he directed the Grand Opera. He returned to Montreal about 1872, then went to Paris to further study piano and composition, in 1873. He was back in Canada about 1875, teaching and performing in Montreal and Quebec. In 1880 he composed and first performed O Canada (words by judge Adolphe-Basile Routhier). It was immediately popular in Quebec, and over time across Canada. It was officially recognized as Canada's national anthem 100 years later, on 1 July 1980. Calixa was not successful financially, however, and soon returned to Boston. He was honored in his profession, becoming President of the Music Teachers' National Association in 1887, and he continued to compose and perform to acclaim. By 1890 he was too ill with a throat ailment to continue to perform, and he died in Boston in January 1891. He was originally buried in Mount Benedict Cemetery, there, but removed to Montreal inn 1933.

References & notes

Service information from Dyer,1 who has him as Calixa Devalley. Details from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Vol. XII, 1891-1900), online, and Calixa Lavallée (1842-1891): A Critical Biography, Brian C. Thompson's PhD thesis (2001). His picture from a photograph in Rene Chartrand's Canadian Military Heritage, Volume II, 1755-1871 (1995), originally from the Société Historique de Montréal. He was born Calixte Paquet dit Lavallée. Some sources have him wounded at Antietam, and that he was a Lieutenant. I found no primary evidence of either. Thanks to J.O. Smith for bringing him forward.


12/28/1842; Verchères, CANADA


01/21/1891; Boston, MA; burial in Côte-des-Neiges Cemetery, Montreal, CANADA


1   Dyer, Elisha, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations for the Year 1865 (corrected), 2 Volumes, Providence: E.L. Freeman & Son, 1893, pg. 288  [AotW citation 17517]