Friday, September 25, 2009

The Drum Corps.

In 1776, The United States, the rules and articles, read:

Art. 9. Any person, belonging to the forces employed in the service of the United States, who, by discharging of fire-arms, drawing of swords, beating of drums, or by any other means whatsoever, shall occasion false alarms in camp, garrison, or quarters, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a general court-martial.

In 1777 each company was to have two drummers, but by the time 1781 came around the Secretary at War had some concerns he felt that to many men were enlisting as drummers and not as soldiers so he wrote to Congress and stated his case.

Secretary at War,
War Office 21st December 1781.

The method hitherto practiced in the Army of enlisting men to serve as fifers and drummers and paying them additional pay is attended with manifest injury to the service for nothing is more common than to see men employed in that duty who are in every respect fit for soldiers, whilst boys hardly able to bear arms are put into the ranks, and the Commanding officers of Corps have not the power of remedying this evil without violating the engagement of the men enlisted as drummers or fifers. I therefore wish Congress would be pleased to order, that for the future no recruit should be engaged as drummer or fifer; but that the commanding officers of Corps should be authorized to employ such of their men on that duty from time to time as shall be most proper and that the additional pay to such who shall be so employed hereafter shall be appropriated to the repair of their drums and fifes. Also that the number of men employed on that duty in any Corps, shall not exceed the proportion allowed the respective Corps in the establishment.

That in future no recruit shall be inlisted to serve as a drummer or fifer. When such are wanted, they shall be taken from the soldiers of the corps, in such numbers and of such description as the Commander in Chief or the commanding officer of a seperate army shall direct, and be returned back and others drawn out as often as the good of the service shall make necessary. That all drummers and fifers, after being supplied each with a good drum and fife, shall keep the same in repair by stoppages from his pay, in such manner as the commanding officer of the corps shall order.

In 1780, the States were asking that their State Infantry should have one drum major and, 10 drummers.

In 1784, the Infantry corps were to have one drum Major and 16, drummers.
The Artillery Corps, was to have one drum Major and 8, drummers.

In 1785, the pay of a drummer was seven dollars per month, it was reduced to that of a private which was six dollars per month.

In 1869, The United States marine corps was to have one drum major and fifty drummers.
Drum Corps, of the Civil War.
The average age of a drummer was between 18 & 20, however there were younger and older ones, by their standers these were just boys, today we would call them young men. There were some when they heard that a man or boy had been in Drum Corps, that he had an easy duty and I too thought that till I researched for this page. Yes it’s true they did play in bands and did a lot of marching in parades but there was more to this corps. When on a march to a new campaign they would be at the head of the column beating out a rhythm to keep the men in step. These boy were in battles and Skirmish, and after it was over they would be sent out to look for the wounded and the dead, when wounded were found they would take them to the hospital. The Drum corps worked in the hospitals a lot as these Two reports will show.

May 19, 1864.
Captain MARVIN, Assistant Adjutant-General:

SIR: My musicians have been returned from hospital under the orders of last evening; a portion of them, and especially the First Brigade band, were sent there by my orders, and I am informed by there surgeon in charge have been very faithful. I beg to ask if these men cannot be detailed for that duty in place of armed men, and if they neglect their duty be sent into the ranks with muskets.

November 28, 1864.

During a battle or series of battles, the drum corps of the division, numbering 350 men and boys, were put on duty in the hospital, being organized into five companies, commanded each by a sergeant, and the whole command by a lieutenant, having an orderly sergeant, as an assistant. From this corps details were made, whenever called for by the surgeon in charge, for pitching and striking tents, loading and unloading wounded, bringing wood and water, burying the dead, and for police duties. A provost guard was present at the hospital during an engagement for the purpose of arresting malingerers.

The boys that won’t sent to the hospital had others duty’s to perform at camp and one was that each drum corps of each regiment would beat tattoo and reveille twice a day from different points of the camp, Reveille was called around daybreak. One reason the calls were made from different points of the camp was so all could hear, and another reason was that if it was on the eve or morning of a battle it made the army sound larger then it may have been, and to give the enemy something to think about.

The Drum Corps, not only played the drums, they could fight as well, some drummers would be come famous will others would win medals of honor. But the Drum Corps, is best known for their rhythmic beating of their drums at the head of the column and when they came into a city from a victory or loss, the Drum Corps was at the head beating the way. The following report tells just what it takes to form a Army’s review.

Alexandria, Va., May 22, 1865.

In accordance with instructions received from headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, the Army of the Tennessee will pass in review through Washington City on the 24th instant, in the following order, viz: First, general commanding army, staff, and escort; second, the First Regiment Michigan Engineers and the First Regiment Missouri Engineers, Colonel J. R. Yates commanding; third, Fifteenth Army Corps. Major General John A. Logan commanding; fourth, Seventeenth Army Corps, Major General F. P. Blair commanding. The artillery of the army will be marched by brigades, in rear of the infantry of each corps. If the width of the streets will admit, batteries will be moved battery front. The army will march on the 23rd instant from its present camp to the neighborhood of the Long Bridge, and will there be put in bivouac for the night. The troops will be supplied with two days' cooked rations in haversacks, and will march in review without knapsacks.

At daylight on the 24th the army will commence crossing the Long Bridge, with engineer regiments in advance, and move by Maryland avenue to the north and east of the Capitol, massing in streets contiguous to the line of march. The engineer regiments will form on North Capitol street; head of column opposite the northern entrance to the Capitol grounds, prepared to wheel into Pennsylvania avenue precisely at 9 a. m. The Fifteenth Army Corps, Major General John A. Logan commanding, will be formed on Maryland avenue, with head of column near the northern entrance to the Capitol grounds, prepared to move into the rear of engineer regiments.

The Seventeenth Army Corps, Major General F. P. Blair commanding, will be formed on East Capitol street, prepared to move in rear of the Fifteenth Army Corps. The line of march will be up Pennsylvania avenue, past the President's House, where the reviewing officer will stand, round the Circle, and then by K and Fourteenth streets to camps already indicated to corps commanders.

The order of march will be in column of companies closed in mass, right in front, with reduced intervals between regiments, brigades, and divisions. Companies will be equalized by divisions, and whenever they fall below fifteen files the battalion will form column by divisions. Six ambulances, three abreast, will follow each brigade. The troops will be marched at a shoulder arms with fixed bayonets, after passing the Treasury Department and until they shall have crossed Seventeenth street, when the arms will be carried at a right shoulder shift. The cadence step will be taken from the moment the head of column moves from the Capitol.

All colors will be unfurled during the entire march. Corps and division commanders are particularly enjoined to move their commands in such manner as will insure and unbroken and unclogged column, and will study the route of march prior to the review to that end. On approaching the reviewing officer all mounted officers will salute and none other. The corps and division commanders will, after passing the reviewing officer, dismount, and, accompanied by one staff officer, take position near the commanding officer of the army during the periods their commands may occupy in passing, when they will rejoin their troops and conduct them to their camp.

No other officer than those mentioned will leave the column. The drum corps of each brigade will be massed at the head of the brigade and will wheel out of column opposite the reviewing officer until the brigade shall have passed, when they shall pass from position in front of the stands will continue at the head of their respective brigades. The colors will salute by dropping on passing the reviewing officer, and field music will make the ruffle without interrupting the march. Precisely at 9 a. m. a signal gun will be fired by one of the advance batteries, when the column will be put in motion as heretofore directed. Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Ross, chief of artillery, Fifteenth Army Corps, is charged with the execution of this paragraph. Suitable camp guards will be left in charge of the camps, and the trains of the corps will commence moving across the Potomac after the review shall have closed.

By command of Major General O. O. Howard:
Assistant Adjutant-General.
The Photo Gallery.

The New York 93rd. Infantry Drum Corp., Bealeton, Va., August 1863.


The New York 61st., Infantry, Drum Corp, Falmounth, Va., March 1863.


The 10rh, Veteran Reserve Drum Corp., Leisure, Washington D. C., June 1865.


The "Rogue's march" drumming a thief out of camp.

Morris Island S. C.July or August of 1863.


Note. These photo’s can not be enlarged so if you would like a bigger copy let me know and I will see that you receive one.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

Wow! You put a lot of work into your research and postings! Looking forward to reading the rest! Great work!:)

Victoria Myers~McPherson
Topeka, KS