Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Study of African-American Drum and Bugle Corps and Their Communities

By Jamil Jorge

Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music in Music with a concentration in Musicology in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2017, Urbana, Illinois

(Download Thesis here.)


This thesis examines three Black drum and bugle corps from the Civil Rights era of the nineteen-fifties and sixties: the Carter Cadets and the CMCC Warriors Drum and Bugle Corps from New York City, NY and the Washington VIPs from Washington, D.C.

It uses historical and ethnographic methods to present a history of Black corps, mainly based on interviews with alumni. By using theories of space and community, the goal is to analyze how urban planning made way for the formation of Black corps in inner cities.

These marching ensembles served two purposes within their communities: to teach youth valuable life skills to benefit their socioeconomic advancement, and to protect them from likely life-threatening situations, including drugs and violence, by showing them how to embrace their Black identities and create awareness of different opportunities.

The significance of this study is to present a little- researched performing ensemble within the United States, and base it historically during the Civil rights era to show one way Black communities coped with urban planning and the lack of socioeconomic opportunities in their neighborhoods.

Carter Cadets:

CMCC Warriors:

Washington VIPs:

A History of Rudimental Drumming in America

A Monograph Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University Agricultural and Mechanical College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in The School of Music

by Eric Alan Chandler
B.S. Ball State University, 1983
M.M. Louisiana State University, 1985
May 1990


Rudimental drumming gained significance in America during the period of the Revolution. Ever since the late eighteenth century and through the nineteenth century, it was used exclusively in the military. This study traces the migration of drum rudiments and their use in military settings from Great Britain to America.

The contributions of the Swiss drummers and the incorporation of their drum music into American rudimental drumming are also examined.

The introductory chapter covers related pertinent and prefatory topics such as a definition of rudimental drumming, the duties of the military drummer, non-rudimental types of drumming and a summary of the origin and development of rudimental drumming in Europe.

The second chapter, which constitutes the body of the work, begins with an investigation of military drumming in America beginning in the Revolutionary War era and contin­uing through the nineteenth century. This chapter also includes calls, signals, and various rudiments used by the American military drummer as well as an analysis and inter­ pretation of the changes that took place in performance practices and notation.

The third chapter deals with rudimental drumming in the twentieth century beginning with the bands of John Philip Sousa, comparing techniques and principles of the past to modern marching percussion sections. Changes in rudiments during this century through the efforts of the National Association of Rudimental Drummers and the Percussive Arts Society are also examined.

The study concludes that many of the same rudiments and patterns used in Europe from the fifteenth century, and in America from the late eighteenth-century, are still used today and have remained unchanged. It has also been con­cluded that, in comparison to other countries, a large number of drum manuals have been published in America prior to the twentieth century.

A further conclusion acknowledges multiple applications of drum rudiments to other percussion instruments. Often, the work of any such project is measured in part by its usefulness and contribution.

This study will serve as a reference for the rudimental drummer as well as for the historian and could be used by scholars and instructors at all levels.

Download the work at

Monday, January 13, 2020

Javier Morales performing "Andersonville"

Javier Morales performing "Andersonville" as a tribute to the legendary Bob Culkin at 4th Annual Drumming For Our Veterans, Jan. 11, 2020 produced by Chet DoBoe.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Old School - 1965 Style & Technique for Drum Corps Drumming by Mike Stefanowicz

1965 Style & Techique for Drum Corps Drumming Pre-DCI Ludwig Drum & Bugle Corps Material

For purposes of preserving drumming history and heritage, style and technique, here is "Style & Technique for Drum Corps Drumming" by Mike Stefanowicz offered 1965 by "Ludwig Drum & Bugle Corps Educational Department (no copyright noticed).  We found this gem on eBay and couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy and preserve its contents.  Critical commentary encouraged.

"Mike Stefanowicz, is a national champion who became a Ludwig clinician and wrote many method books and articles on style and technique."  See,%20Chapter%206.pdf.

"Mike Stefanowicz starting making music at age 12, and by 1940 was known across the country as one of the best drummers in the activity. His skill was also recognized outside the United States. After finishing as the first runner up in the individuals at the American Legion national convention in Boston, he finished as first runner up in the World Senior Open Championships during the World’s Fair, in Flushing, NY. In addition to performing with several fife and drum corps, he performed with the Seattle Hurricanes drum and bugle corps. He also instructed the drum lines of the Hurricanes and Thunderbirds of Seattle." See

Thursday, April 18, 2019



Jordan Noble's story as a slave-turned-soldier and a loved citizen of New Orleans has been somewhat thoroughly documented.  Noble was able to use his status as a patriot and soldier of four wars (Battle of New Orleans/War of 1812, Seminole War in Florida, Mexican War, and as part of both the Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War) to gain freedom and social status that very few of his skin color had at that time.  His accomplishments and unique circumstances positioned him as a celebrated member of New Orleans society and a political leader of the free black community.

Jordan Noble's efforts as a political leader began far before President Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, far before the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, and far before the Fourteenth Amendment offered a guarantee of civil rights in 1868. Noble's well-publicized notoriety as Andrew Jackson's drummer and his voluntary service in multiple wars to help whites forge the American republic positioned him to astutely negotiate through the class-based society which surrounded him. His words and actions were public proof that People of Color were model citizens, eloquent speakers with social grace, and true patriots deserving freedom and every natural right. His words and actions were tools that greatly advanced the fight for those rights and equality throughout America.

Noble attended the 1854 National Emigration Convention of Colored People in Cleveland, serving as an elected officer on its National Board of Commissioners and a Louisiana delegate. The delegates of that convention created what was advanced as the first platform "ever established by the colored people in any Convention in the United States." That groundbreaking platform made a series of declarations which outlined specific civil rights grievances and, among other things, insisted that "man is by nature free," that whatever interferes with the natural rights of man should "be met with adequate resistance," and demanded "every political right, privilege and position," while pledging to use "all honorable means, to unite us as one people, on this continent."1

In 1865, the first year that "free blacks and mullatoes of Louisiana" could legally meet in convention, Noble attended the Convention of Colored Men of Louisiana in New Orleans. He served as President pro-tem and Vice President of the Convention, in addition to serving as President of the Convention's Committee of Rules and Regulations and as an officer on multiple other committees developed to "promote the moral, educational, and economic development of the black community." Noble and the other delegates quickly formed the Equal Rights League of Louisiana as an outgrowth of the National Equal Rights League, which was founded just three months prior, and endorsed their adopted "Declaration of Wrongs and Rights." (The National Equal Rights League served as a forerunner to the NAACP.) The published minutes and an editorial in the New Orleans Tribune specifically recognized Noble's high level of leadership activity and important part at the Convention. His work alongside other notable southern-black soldiers turned political leaders, such as James H. Ingraham and Oscar J. Dunn, helped to ensure the Convention's success and initiate a well-defined, unified Civil Rights Movement in the years that followed. 2, 3

1Proceedings of the National Emigration Convention of Colored People Held at Cleveland, Ohio, On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, The 24th, 25th, and 26th of August, 1854; A.A. Anderson Print, Pittsburg, 1854;, 2016.
2“State Convention of the Colored People of Louisiana, January 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th, 1865” (New Orleans, LA); Foner, Philip S. and George E. Walker, eds.; The Proceedings of the Black State Conventions, 1840-1865. Volume 2, 1979;, 2016.
3"Editorial: The State Convention of the Colored People of Louisiana", The New Orleans Tribune; January 10-15, 1865.

Former Slave Jordan B. Noble’s Battle of New Orleans Commemorative Banner and Historic Snare Drum and Offered in May 4 Americana Auction

Subject matter specialists and digital assets available:
Eric Bradley, Director, Public Relations

Former Slave Jordan B. Noble’s Battle of New Orleans Commemorative Banner and Historic Snare Drum and Offered in May 4 Americana Auction

New Orleans resident’s rare war drum offered at Heritage Auctions

DALLAS, Texas (April 15, 2019) – On January 8, 1815, a teenage slave named Jordan Bankston Noble beat the call to arms and stood shoulder to shoulder with U.S. troops determined to drive back the British Army during the Battle of New Orleans.
Despite his age, Noble, just 14 years old, already had plenty of experience as a drummer in the War of 1812 under Major General Andrew Jackson’s 7th Regiment; his skills also had played a crucial role in a December 1814 surprise attack against the British.
More than 180 years later, Noble’s personally owned circa 1830 snare drum, which he used to keep soldiers marching in step during Second Seminole War of 1836, and two additional wars, and a prized Battle of New Orleans presentation banner, come to auction May 4 in Heritage Auctions’ Americana & Political Auction in Dallas and on
“Without a doubt, Jordan Noble’s life is a fascinating story of courage and perseverance,” said Tom Slater, an expert and director of Historical Americana at Heritage. “Despite serving his country, after the war, two of Noble's commanders took ownership of him and his mother. It was through their efforts that Jordan became a free man and a celebrated historic figure in New Orleans.”
Born a slave in Georgia in 1800, Noble was raised by his mother before he was sold to New Orleans resident John Noble in 1812 who likewise fought at the battle in Jackson’s 7th Regiment Louisiana Volunteer Infantry.
Because of his extreme patriotism, after the War of 1812, Noble continued his military career as a drummer during the Second Seminole War of 1836, the Mexican War (under Zachary Taylor) and the Civil War. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he raised a company of freed African Americans (the “Louisiana Native Guards”) to provide security and defense for the city of New Orleans. 

The drum offered at auction on May 4 is the one he played from his time in the Seminole Wars to the end of his life in 1890. It is the very same one Noble was seen with at the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition/New Orleans World’s Fair (1884). After his death, the drum was publically exhibited at the Colonial Museum in New Orleans (1903) and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition/St. Louis World's Fair (1904), before being loaned to the Louisiana State Museum for more than a century and being on permanent display for the majority of that time.

The exceptionally important military snare drum features a Federal eagle and shield on a standard military blue background. The maker’s label is inscribed in ink at the top "JB Noble." Although some of the paint is worn and chipped, the graphic eagle remains vivid and is surrounded by 24 stars (one chipped away) representing the 24 states admitted between 1821 and 1836.

Noble’s commitment to this country ran deep. Among his most prized possessions was a 42-inch by 45-inch blue silk banner that, according to tradition, was made by the women of New Orleans and presented to Andrew Jackson to honor and commemorate his victory at the Battle of New Orleans. It is decorated with two horizontal ribbons within a wreath inscribed “Andrew Jackson” and “1814 and 1815.” It is encased with a printed testimonial to Noble, dated April 27, 1880, signed by two former governors, three generals and a commodore.

Noble’s widow sold the banner (and drum) sometime before 1903 to Gaspar Cusachs, who loaned it to the Louisiana State Museum. The banner has been publically exhibited at the Colonial Museum in New Orleans (1903), the Louisiana Purchase Exposition/St. Louis World's Fair (1904), the Louisiana State Museum (1909) and the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge (2006-2016).

Noble became known as the “The Drummer Boy of Chalmette” and was fondly called "Old Jordan" in his later years. He was often seen and heard playing the snare drum currently offered at auction, and would timelessly recreate the famous drumbeat that was heard on the fields of Chalmette during the Battle of New Orleans, along with the many other military beats he performed throughout his service to this country.

Old Jordan became such a fixture of New Orleans’ culture, the local newspaper, The Daily Picayune, honored him and told the story of his life in an article published June 21, 1890, the day after his death.

Heritage Auctions’ auction session featuring Jordan B. Noble’s personally owned snare drum and his prized Battle of New Orleans presentation banner begins at 11 a.m. CT, May 4 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas with live bidding available worldwide through
Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
The Internet’s most popular auction-house website,, has over one million registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of four million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.
For breaking stories, follow us: and Link to this release or view prior press releases.

Hi-Res images available:
Eric Bradley, Director, Public Relations
C: 469-271-2849 or

Jordan B. Noble Owned Snare Drum: African American Drummer in the Battle of New Orleans/War of 1812

Up for Auction at

Born into slavery in 1800, Jordan Bankston Noble was only 14-years old when he became the drummer for General Andrew Jackson's 7th Regiment. Noble beat the call to arms for the troops at the Battle of New Orleans and stood with the members of his unit in defense against the British attack. General Jackson, Noble and the men of 7th Infantry were considered heroes by the residents of New Orleans. After the war, two of young Noble's commanders took ownership of him and his mother. It was through their efforts that Jordan became a free man and one of New Orleans' most celebrated 19th-century black musicians.

Because of his extreme patriotism, after the War of 1812, Noble continued his military career as a drummer during the Second Seminole War of 1836, the Mexican War (under Zachary Taylor) and the Civil War. At the outbreak of the Civil War he raised a company of freed African Americans (the "Louisiana Native Guards") to fight for the South. After Union General Benjamin Butler took control of New Orleans from the Confederacy, Noble then raised a new regiment that fought for the North. It was under Butler that Noble served as a Captain of the U. S. 7th Louisiana Regiment Infantry (African Decent). Upon returning to New Orleans after his military service, Noble rose to fame for his valor and commitment to his community.

Noble became known as the "The Drummer Boy of Chalmette" and was also fondly called "Old Jordan" in his later years. He was often seen and heard playing the snare drum currently offered at auction, and would even timelessly recreate the famous drumbeat that was heard on the fields of Chalmette during the Battle of New Orleans, along with the many other military beats he performed throughout his service to this country.

Noble became such a fixture of New Orleans' culture, the local newspaper, The Daily Picayune, told the story of "Old Jordan" and his "well-worn drum" in an article published June 21, 1890, the day after his death.

"He gave frequent "field music" entertainment with his historic drum that he carried with him throughout all his services, and many will remember the white-headed old man and his well-worn drum, so often seen during the exposition of 1884-1885. The famous drummer boy of New Orleans has gone to join his comrades of many campaigns. Peace to him and honor to the brave man who served his country so often and so well."

The drum offered at auction is the one Noble played from his time in the Seminole Wars to the end of his life in 1890. It is the very same one Noble was seen with at the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition/New Orleans World's Fair (1884). After his death, his widow sold the drum to Gaspar Cusachs, who exhibited it at the Colonial Museum in New Orleans (1903) and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition/St. Louis World's Fair (1904), before loaning it to the Louisiana State Museum for more than a century.

It is an exceptionally important military snare drum, with the music store's label inscribed in ink at the top "JB Noble" and bearing the name "Klemm & Brother's, No 287 Market St. Philadelphia." Early Philadelphia directories listed the drum maker at 287 1/2 Market St. from 1828 thru 1843. Concurrent with those dates, a New Orleans directory listed a Klemm Brothers store at 45 Canal St. in 1832.

The drum, with Federal eagle and shield on a standard military blue background, features the eagle and shield along with standard tack decoration, drumheads, rope and leather tensioners and brass snare tensioner on the side. It is 16.5" tall, with a diameter of 16.75". Although some of the paint is worn and chipped, the graphic eagle remains vivid and is surrounded by 24 stars (one chipped away) representing the 24 states admitted between 1821 and 1836.

Provenance: The Gaspar Cusachs Collection, Louisiana State Museum, 1908-2016

Sunday, January 6, 2019

New Old Stock, In the Box, ca. 1998 or later McDonagh 10-hole Regimental Model Fife with Fingering Chart

A friend came upon a new, old stock, in the box, 10-hole McDonagh fife, Regimental Model, complete with fingering chart.  And he gave it to me!  How sweet is that?

If you can add any information about the fife, please chime in.

McDonagh Fifes 1958, a new model fife designed by fifer John McDonagh was manufactured in Germany. This model was used by the three corps affiliated with him: The New York Regimentals Fife and Drum Band, St. Benedict's Fife and Drum Corps and St. Anselm's Sr. Fife and Drum Corps. All were located in the Bronx, New York. These fifes were not otherwise available to the public. A short time later a second generation of model evolved, specifically labeled the McDonagh Model and made by Roy Seaman, a music repairman whom John befriended in Manhattan. This model quickly came into popularity. These fifes were mass-produced for sale to the entire fife and drum community. They were two-piece instruments with a dual conical bore – the foot joint tapered down from the joint to about an inch before terminus, where the bore cone reversed itself and opened up again slightly. They used the popular flute and piccolo designs of the 1830s, where "cone" flutes were the rage and most common. The cone flutes had fallen out of favor to the cylindrical flutes designed by Boehm, though fifes and piccolos remained popular among folk music performers.
As would be expected, these fifes were notably more internally in tune than most previous fifes, since the designs of the 1830s fell from favor, and had the added value of being tunable with each other (by sliding the joint or the head cork). In addition, they gave the player greater dynamic control and could be played even louder than traditional fifes, the result of the lower cone in the bore. At first, only six hole (Model J) fifes were made, but by 1960, McDonagh designed and Seaman manufactured a 10-hole (Model L). Two of the holes were used by RH2 – covering only one of the two produced F natural. Some players found this quite difficult, so eventually (c. 1970s), an 11-hole model was introduced, the Model M, with both the original double RH2 holes and an RH thumb hole to choose from for the F natural. These were actually ideas derived from several makers of the days of the 19th century, including Giorgi, even though there was no need for F natural in traditional fife music.
Around this time, Roy Seaman had been deeply involved in the making of piccolos under his name, the body style of which resembled the McDonagh Model fife. Roy decided to retire from actively manufacturing fifes and sold the operation of making McDonagh fifes to an apprentice, Larry Trout. Operating on his own, Trout soon chose to mark the fife with his own "fish" symbol, which replaced the script mark of Roy Seaman's name. In time, the quality of the instrument eventually suffered and other models of fifes began to emerge in the United States.
McDonagh had stayed uninvolved from active fife and drum performance, teaching and composition for many years. As new generations of fifers emerged, John remained reclusive to himself and a few close friends, preferring to stay in his apartment in mid-town Manhattan. That began to change in 1988 and John began to meet privately at his home with some former fifing colleagues and a few newer players. John also renewed his collaborative friendship with Roy Seaman, who was now living in Arizona.
In 1997, John McDonagh, along with a newly formed fife study group, decided that the time had come to make changes to the original 1960 ten-hole fife. A new manufacturer, Wilson Woods, with critical oversight from Roy Seaman once again, produced the new fife, designated the Regimental Model. Along with this new fife, a number of fingering changes were suggested to take full advantage of the improved design. For a number of years, both Larry Trout and Wilson Woods made McDonagh fifes jointly—Trout the fish-marked familiar McDonagh Model and Wilson the Regimental Model. Eventually, both men discontinued making fifes as of 2003.
Most recently, The Cooperman Company, founded by Patrick H Cooperman, took over the manufacture of McDonagh fifes. Cooperman had ventured himself into the concert-fifemaking world in about 1985 with his own version of a two-piece fife, as well as an acoustically correct one-piece version, through the assistance of a few key players. Though the fifes played and sold well, they had not reached the popularity of the McDonagh.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

1861 VMI Cadets Drum - Marked to Commemorate the Battle of New Market

1861 VMI Cadets Drum - Marked to Commemorate the Battle of New Market

The Battle of New Market was fought on May 15, 1864, in Virginia during the Valley Campaigns of 1864 in the American Civil War.  A makeshift Confederate army of 4,100 men, which included cadets from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), forced Union Major General Franz Sigel and his army out of the Shenandoah Valley. The cadets were integral to the Confederate victory at New Market. Source:  Photos courtesy of Ron Maness.

VMI's 10 cadet fatalities are remembered on the drum

For V.M.I.
Ship to
Lexington, VA
June, 1860

Blog reader Terry Cornett sent a copy of his email correspondence with Ron Maness:

On Sunday, October 21, 2018, 2:33:53 PM CDT, peirce2ovc wrote:

Hi Terry,

Thank you for your response. Attached are photos of the drum.

Obviously, it is ID'd to VMI. The drum is small: 8.625" deep and 14" in diameter measured outside the rims. It appears unaltered. The lower edge of the drum is carved out at two opposing points to facilitate the snare.

Written in pencil inside the drum (and difficult to photograph) is what appears to read "Y. Lilley Maker 1860". I'm not sure about the Lilley name. It's the best I can make out.

The drum has come out of a very old collection and everything else in it is righteous. The drum and its markings appear good, but I am not a drum expert.

With the drum are remnants of the rope and two leather tighteners (they are small and in poor shape).

Your thoughts would be appreciated.


-------- Original message --------
From: T Cornett
To: peirce2ovc
Subject: Re: Drum Authentication

Hello Ron,
I will try, but I will forward the images to several others who may have more expertise in identification. In general, if there is any kind of evidence on the drum, such as pencil or ink inscriptions, the highest value could be in "as found" condition. If there are no historically relevant indications and the instrument is sound (or could be made sound) then restoration to playing condition could be warranted.

Terry Cornett

-------- Original message --------
On Saturday, October 20, 2018, 10:21:01 PM CDT, peirce2ovc wrote:

Hi Terry,

If I sent you photos of what presents itself as an 1860 production rope tensioned drum,  could you help authenticate it? The item needs restoration, if it is a real drum. I suppose you might be interested in providing these services?

Ron Maness


Facsimile of an 1862 Robert W. Warren Drum

Facsimile of an 1862 Robert W. Warren Drum

(originally published in this blog 11/29/2010)

A viewer recently wrote: Here's the latest project I just finished. I wrapped my beat up WFL drum in ash veneer, which I had flat cut from a single log (not spliced together from multiple logs like most veneer), so it looks like it's a steambent solid shell with the overlapped seam. On the right is my 1862 Robert W. Warren drum.


Recreating mid-19th Century John Lowell Tugs

Recreating mid-19th Century John Lowell Tugs

(originally published in this blog 11/29/2010)
A friend wrote me recently saying that he was interested in the exact dimensions of the original leather ears on my mid-19th century drum pictured in "Drum by John Lowell of Bangor, Maine", this blog, March 5, 2008.
I sent him one of the original ears to copy. Here's a photo of the original and one of his reproductions:

Note that the original has a brass shield stapled to it. My refurbished John Lowell drum is discussed in the above-referenced blog post.

Amazing Drum and Fife Manuscripts Found

Amazing Drum and Fife Manuscripts Found

(originally published in this blog 3/10/2012)
Reader and Contributor ANONYMOUS writes:

Drummers and fifers-

This is a huge discovery...manuscripts from Sgt. Henke and Sgt. Moore, who were instructors at Gov. Island for many years. I am going to see if Ken Barlow can post these to 28 megs total. Here are the first 2 pages:

Three Camps, Reveille, Slow Scotch, Austrian, Tin Kettle


Hessian, Dutch, Quick Scotch, Yankee Doodle, National Air

Not much drumming but there is a drumbeat for Old Dan Tucker, which apparently was used for Supper Call.

Courtesy of Rob Martin, by way of Jim Moffet, to Ed Fredriks, to me [ANONYMOUS].

Please forward this to others. I am going through my 3 email accounts and sending this to everyone I have corresponded with regarding drum and fife over the years.

After a quick glance, it looks like the reveille is very close to Strube...



Lyon & Healy Bass Drum, ca. 1890 - Comments from a Reader

Lyon & Healy Bass Drum, ca. 1890

Comments regarding this drum in an email dated 5/1/07 from ANONYMOUS:

"Your drum [Lyon & Healy bass drum, ca. 1890 with star inlay and inlaid circumferential stripes, design "Monarch"] appears to be in pretty good shape. If I were you I would just replace the heads unless there is significant splitting of the shell. Tucking skin heads is really not very difficult. I would practice on a snare drum before tackling a large bass drum, however.

"You might also consider George Carroll. He could provide you with skin heads at a ... [low] price ... or do a complete restoration .... I am fortunate enough to live down the street from his shop in Alexandria [Virginia]. He has a small sample of his drum collection there. Many say that Mr. Carroll is the most knowledgeable person in the world on the subject of rope drums and historical rudimental drumming. His resume speaks for itself. He started the Old Guard Fife, Drum, and Bugle Corps. and also the Fifes and Drum Corp at Colonial Williamsburg in addition to transcribing all of the old drum manuals from the 18th and 19th centuries.

"Incidentally George used to own the Excelsior drum company's catalog. It was either lost or stolen.

"If you need any other advice, let me know.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A Tale of Two Eagles

A Tale of Two Eagles
by Michael Pikunas
Youngstown, Ohio

It was the morning of November 12, 1861, and at first glance the youthful federal soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were not overjoyed by the unfamiliar sights and smells around them. They had landed at Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina which, compared to the lush green forests and farms of Eastern Pennsylvania, presented to them an endless and desolate expanse of bleached white sand. This was their first journey away from their homes in Schuylkill County, a region comprised of small coal mining towns near the Schuylkill River. One of those small towns, Palo Alto, lay on the south shore of the Schuylkill which flows eastward toward Philadelphia, less than one hundred miles away.

And just fifty miles to the east was Bethlehem, settled in 1741 by a Christian sect of German Methodists called Moravians.  The Germans “brought with them a high regard for education and a love for music."1 Just like those from Palo Alto, the young men from Bethlehem responded to the call for volunteers to put down the rebellion and don the federal blue. 
But unlike their comrades from Palo Alto, the Bethlehemians had not only relatives but also brethren in Bethania, North Carolina.  Settled in 1759, also by Moravians, Bethania was a farm town not too far from Salem, North Carolina, the Southern home of the Moravians.  Like their northern brethren, the Bethanians enlisted to serve, not to put down the rebellion, but to don the confederate gray and support it.

These blue clad and gray clad Moravians had more than their patriotism in common; they shared a talent for music and their Christian heritage, complete with its signs and symbols.  "In their boarding schools they learned to draw their great Moravian symbol, the Star of Bethlehem.  In this fashion, by drawing the shapes of a pyramid and gluing the shapes together they created a multi-pointed star."2  As the clouds of war darkened, many of the Moravians, both men and boys, would join their respective ranks, not as soldiers, but as musicians.
Following the first cannon blasts at Fort Sumter, Moravian musicians from Salem, also known as the Wachovia Region, or Piedmont, formed three bands, initially named as militia units.  "The Forsyth Grays" became Company E of the Eleventh Regiment, North Carolina Volunteers. This Company changed later to the Twenty-first Regiment, North Carolina Troops.   Forming soon after was the Bethania Brass Band, also known as the "Confederate Stars" which became Company F and later Company I of the Thirty-third Regiment, North Carolina Troops.  Finally, there was the Salem Brass Band, which would famously become known as the 26th North Carolina Regimental Band."3  They would all wear the gray. 
At Hatteras Inlet the young soldiers in blue eventually began to frolic in the surf, gathering what they called "secesh" shells.  They’'d ship the secesh shells home to their relatives in wooden crates onboard ocean-borne "steamers."4  For now they had every reason to enjoy themselves because the sobering slaughter at Shiloh and Antietam was still on the horizon, and General Ambrose Burnside's star was on the rise. 
They didn't know what lay ahead, that three years hence their skills and ingenuity would be called upon to attempt a bold and decisive end to the war, a nightmarish, seemingly endless war. They would tunnel underneath the rebel lines at the last citadel of the Confederacy, Petersburg, and plant a ton of explosives creating what would be known ever after as "The Crater" and the demise of General Ambrose Burnside's career.
But outside of making history, during the course of their war, the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania would capture two eagles - two American Bald Eagles - making them souvenirs and shipping them back home to Schuylkill County. "A live eagle was captured after putting up a fight on the 48th's picket line at Hatteras Inlet."5  The other eagle, a defiant eagle, hand painted by an unknown artist on the face of a rebel snare drum was captured on a battlefield late in the war.

About the Moravian Star

Drum Head clearly marked "LANE BAND"
thereby attributing the drum to the Confederacy,
notwithstanding the eagle motif which pre-dated
the Civil War and North Carolina's secession from the Union

Hand-drawn Moravian 6-pointed Star of Bethlehem
(a 2-dimensional representation of intersecting 3-dimensional 4-sided pyramids)
and the hand-written words "LANE BAND"in the same hand,
thereby possibly further linking the band and the southern Moravians

Pre-Civil War Eagle Motif

Pen and Ink inscription reading
"Stellwagon, Palo Alto, Penna" thereby linking
the drum with the 48th Pennsylvania

Detail of hand-drawn Star of Bethlehem

The bottom drum head of the rebel eagle drum bears a number of six pointed stars, one of them large, "shaped in the same fashion as drawn by Moravian boarding school students in the mid-19th Century at Old Salem North Carolina.”6  Printed below the larger star by the same hand are two words "LANE BAND." Appearing to the side of those markings in bold period ink is the name and home town of the soldier of the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry who "captured" the drum to send home to Schuylkill County - (George W.) "Stellwagon, Palo Alto, Penna".
The snare drum’s dimensions are 12-1/2" tall and 14-1/2" in diameter.  The shell is uncut.  Next to the spread-winged eagle motif is a symmetrical tack pattern that consists of a circle around the vent hole encompassed by a large square. The hoops, heads, leather tugs and rope tensioners are original. The free-hand painted motif consists of a spread-winged bald eagle on a gold sun-rayed blue field. The bald eagle is grasping a broken flagstaff of a furled federal flag in its beak. The eagle, with the broken flagstaff in its beak is portrayed on the ground with pointed green ivy leaves and red berries. In its talons is a clutch of arrows.
The drum shows a substantial amount of use and field wear.  It bears no federal markings, such as "E Pluribus Unum," "U.S.," etc.  Images of actual federal-issue drums carried by drummers of the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry can be seen on the 48th Pennsylvania website.7
George Stellwagon, an infantryman of the 48th Pennsylvania, as far as we know, was with his regiment at the battles of Roanoke Island, New Berne, Second Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain and Antietam, where he sustained a serious head wound while waiting in line to cross Burnside's Bridge.  Stellwagon recovered to re-join the 48th in 1864 for the Battle of the Wilderness onward.
What is the meaning of the words "LANE BAND"?  The words printed by the hand of the Johnny Reb musician himself represent the Confederate regiment and brigade to which the ‘rebel eagle drum belonged: the Thirty-third Regiment, North Carolina Troops of General James Henry Lane's Brigade. General Lane received his brigadier star in November 1862 following the death of General Lawrence O. Branch at Antietam\Sharpsburg.
And how do we know this?  The Reminiscences of Oliver J. Lehman reveal the story.8  Known as O. J., Lehman was a Moravian musician from Bethania, North Carolina who enlisted in Lane's Brigade and became band master to the Thirty-third North Carolina Regimental Band.  Lehman chose to serve with his fellow musicians who were formerly members of the Bethania Brass Band the "Confederate Stars."  "The Thirty-third Regimental Band, although assigned to regimental status, was actually the brigade band for General Lane's Brigade, which included the Seventh, Eighteenth, Twenty-eighth, Thirty-third, and Thirty-seventh North Carolina regiments."9  The Brigade was attached to Pender's Division, Third Army Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.
While the live bald eagle at Hatteras Inlet put up a ferocious fight before succumbing to capture by a lieutenant and two privates of the 48th Pennsylvania armed with a fusillade of sea shells, the eagle on the rebel drum of General Lane's Band witnessed a much more prolonged and bloody struggle.
We can only speculate that the ‘rebel drum eagle heard the screams of wounded soldiers about to be consumed by flames in the woods at the Battle of Chancellorsville and witnessed the aftermath of the accidental death of General Stonewall Jackson caused by friendly fire from a sister regiment in General Lane's Brigade.  We can only speculate how close it got to the brave faces of General Lane's infantryman as they formed the battle line on Seminary Ridge before marching toward those horrible cannon on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg.  Did it inspire those brave soldiers by playing their favorite tunes Bonnie Blue Flag and Dixie?
We do know, according to Oliver Lehman: "During all battles until the final surrender, General Lane's Band was in the opening of each, caring for the wounded and taking them to the field hospital just behind the line of battle. So our duties were not only as musicians but also as ambulance corps. We were often under severe shelling and small arms fire but we escaped almost miraculously".10
We can feel confident that the rebel drum was there when fate brought together the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and the Thirty-third North Carolina Regiment. We can surmise the day of the eagle’s capture in the bloody muck at Spotsylvania or near the last desperate ditches of the federal Sixth Corps' breakthrough at Petersburg.
But the eagle emblazoned on the ‘rebel drum, although forced to surrender, has never surrendered its indomitable mystique.  For when all is quiet, with an imaginative ear pressed against the vent hole, one can hear off in the distance, feint but unmistakable, spine tingling, the echo of the Rebel Yell.


I would like to recognize two persons in particular who helped me with their knowledge, expertise and literary resources on the topic of Moravian Civil War history in Salem, North Carolina, namely, Historian Philip Dunigan and Office Manager Sarah Durham.
And to express my appreciation and gratitude for the invaluable forensic and technical skills of my friend, Ed Carlini.
And to my sister Anne Marie "Bunchy" Schwelm, for her moral and literary support and assistance, and for the many years of sharing the joy of Our Great American History.

1 Hall, Harry H. 2006. A Johnny Reb Band from Salem: The Pride of Tarheelia. Raleigh N.C.: Office of Archives and History, N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources. 
2 Moravian Historical Society. About the Moravian Star, (accessed June 10, 2018) 
3 Hall, 2006. 
4 Hoptack, John David.  2017. The Civil War letters of Private Daniel Reedy, Company F, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry,
5 Hoptack, 2017
6 Moravian Historical Society 
7 Hoptack, John David. 2017. The 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry,
8 Lehman, O. J. Reminiscences of the War Between the States, unpublished manuscript.  Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina State Archives. 
9 Ferguson, Benny Pryor. 1987. The Bands of the Confederacy: An Examination of the Musical and Military Contributions of the Bands and Musicians of the Confederate States of America. North Texas State University.
10 Lehman, O. J. Reminiscences of the War Between the States, unpublished manuscript. Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina State Archives.


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