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"Armed with drumsticks and courage" Topic

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©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2023 4:25 p.m. PST

"During the American Civil War, "drummer boys served as a communications link between a commander and his soldiers. Officers couldn't shout loud enough for 800 men to hear amid the din of battle. But those soldiers could all hear a pounding drum. Reveille, taps, assembly, chow—all the routines of camp life were announced on the drums. So were marching and drill commands as well as battle commands. Drummer boys marched into the thick of battle, armed only with their drumsticks and courage." So wrote Kendall F. Haven in "Voices of the Civil War."

Drummer boys were often sleep-deprived. In "The Civil War Drummer" by R. Murphy, "at any time [they] might be needed to play the appropriate drum call. This meant being awakened at any hour and not being able to return to sleep for many hours. Once the men were assembled and deployed to a particular engagement, the drummers would lay down their drums and take up stretchers, act as runners between outposts, or do whatever was necessary to help the unit. Many tales of heroism have been told about these young lads."…"

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CHRIS DODSON12 Sep 2023 1:03 p.m. PST

I attended a demonstration of drumming/ signalling at Pamprovo ACW museum in 2002.

Fascinating stuff and a real insight into the ‘ radio' of the day.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2023 3:19 p.m. PST



ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 6:41 a.m. PST

A nice family history, but it has the often-seen inaccuracy about the drummers in battle putting aside their drums and becoming stretcher bearers. Simply not true. As the article does state, the drums were important for passing orders in the noise and confusion of battle. The Field Music (as the drummers, fifers, and buglers were called) stayed with their instruments, close to their colonel, throughout a fight, ready to relay commands. Regimental BANDS sometimes did become stretcher bearers since the bands were strictly for entertainment, but never the Field Music.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2023 3:46 p.m. PST



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