The Youngest Drummer Boy

Our last history post of the year presents the story of “Little Morris” who was said to be the youngest boy enlisted on either side during the Civil War. You may recall that I’ve posted about Charles Edwin King, the youngest drummer boy killed during the Civil War. Morris survived the conflict and left behind a legacy that became a legendary story in the press.

I would like to thank our friend John Hennessy, Chief Historian/Chief of Interpretation at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park for providing me with multiple sources on several drummer boys whose experiences took place at or around Fredericksburg. This includes several newspaper clippings challenging the story of Robert Henry Hendershot (see past posts here and here) who claimed to be The Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock.” More to come.

Titled “Drummer Boy Morris: A Lad Who Went to War When Only Eleven Years Old” this account presents Morris’ experiences at such a young age. (I am posting a period news clipping below in its entirety. It is taken from the Jed Hotchkiss Papers which are on file at the Library of Congress. I have been unable to dig up any additional source material online. I have been able to find multiple versions of “The Little Drummer Boy” sang by a variety of singers with the last name Morris).

At the tender age of 10 ½ Morris was presented to Captain J. Murray of Company D., Nineteenth Virginia Battalion. Despite his young age he was accepted to fulfill the role of a drummer boy. At the time he was the youngest enlistee on either side of the war. After being treated harshly by the men of Company D. Morris transferred to Company A., Nineteenth Virginia Battery of Artillery where he served under Captain J.F. Chalmers until the end of the war. Following the war Morris grew up to be a popular citizen around Richmond who shared his experiences from the war. His drumsticks and portrait were put on display. (Click image for full-size)


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Filed under Drums and Drumming

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