Sketching out a Drummer Boy Book

I’ve wanted to write a book on the history and experiences of the Civil War Drummer Boy for quite some time. Over the last few years I’ve written dozens of posts here on the subject, collected nearly 100 images, and acquired many first-hand accounts. Clearly I have enough material to create something good if I can organize it in a way that’s worthwhile to the reader. I’m looking at a 50 or so page e-book that incorporates photos and narratives in a graphic format. There are several sections I envision for the book. A dramatic introduction, overview of the drummer boy’s origins, stories of noteworthy individuals, quoted first-hand accounts, some specifics on drums and drumming, and a look at monuments and graves.

There are some challenges. I don’t want to write an academic book although I want it to be educational. I want it to be creative and visual but no too “coffee table.” As a drummer I need to refrain for getting technical. I can promise there will be some debunking of some previous myths that even I fell for, as well as some stories of individuals that have been long forgotten. The end goal is to give credit to a far too neglected individual in Civil War history, boys who left home to participate in a man’s war. When I wrote my books on Confederate Campsites in Spotsylvania County and the Historic Churches of Fredericksburg I came away with a whole new understanding of the plight of the everyday soldier. I hope to have the same experience while writing this e-book. I have tentatively mapped out each section. Here is an interesting quote I recently found that presents a take on the stories about drummer boys that isn’t favorable:

Marvelous stories are still related of “drummer boys.” I see they are very ridiculous. I have never yet saw a dead drummer boy—not even a wounded one. The little rascals take care and remain far enough in the rear, and are really of no use during an active campaign except to carry water to the hospital. Few of them do this, being employed chiefly in “going down on knapsacks” that are thrown away by wounded soldiers. Drum corps have more mischief in them than in all regiments besides. – William H. Moody, 139th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

If you have any archived material (memoirs or images) that you would like to have included email me at ma@pinstripepress.net. Thank you.

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