New Book Project

UPDATE: The book is now available: DOWNLOAD HERE
(PDF, must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view)

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 on this blog, collected nearly 100 images, and acquired many first-hand accounts. Clearly I have enough material to create something worthwhile for the reader. I have broken the book down into several sections:

  • Dramatic introduction
  • Overview of the drummer boy’s origins
  • Stories of noteworthy individuals
  • Quoted first-hand accounts
  • Specifics on drums and drumming
  • A look at monuments and graves
  • The lasting impression left today

The book will include many images, close to 50 give or take, many quoted pieces taken from the archives and perhaps even some newspaper clippings. It will be designed to be visually pleasing utilizing my past experience as an Art Director. 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. Not all participants in the war appreciated the stories of the drummer boys glorifying their contributions. William H. Moody of the 139th Pennsylvania Volunteers wrote of his disdain for them.

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.

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. My goal is to have the same experience at the conclusion of writing this e-book.

Here are some of the individuals who will be covered in the book:

  • Thomas Jefferson Cole
  • William H. Horsfall
  • Alexander Howard Johnson
  • William Black
  • Charles King
  • Louis Edward Rafield
  • Robert Henry Hendershot
  • Henry “Dad” Brown
  • Johnny Clem
  • Albert Henry Woolson
  • Justin S. Keeler
  • John T. Spillane
  • Willie Johnson

I am also looking for documents to compliment the photographs. Memoirs, reports, enlistment or pension papers, anything that presents their firsthand experiences. Photos of the individuals who the papers refer to are extremely valuable. I want to include as much archive material as possible. Here is an example of pension papers that identify a soldier as serving as a drummer in the 51st Ohio Vols., Company D:

Please send any images or information to me at I’ll be sure to credit you. This book will be self-published and made available here at Off Beat. The particulars are still to come.