Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Star Drums of the 12th Corps of the Army of the Potomac

I have a drum in my collection that I've always known is special but I haven't, until now, been able to decode the clues. Here is the drum, and here are the clues:

1861-62 Star Drum by C.C. Clapp, Boston
Collection of E. Mirsky

Label: handwritten in India ink script as follows:

C.C. Clapp & Co.
69 Court St

C.C. Clapp had contracts in 1861 to 1862 to supply several Massachusetts militia units with bugles and drum heads (per American Military Goods Dealers and Makers, 1785-1915, p. 24).

Insignia: a five-pointed gold star with a metal numeral "5" in the center.

Snare Mechanism: a thumbscrew operated hinged clamp on one end, and a leather butt plate secured by a metal plate screwed into the counterhoop.

Other Features: the bottom counterhoop has two small pieces of filler wood at 180 degrees from each other and 90 degrees from the existing snare cut-outs, suggesting that the original design may have lacked the mechanical snare mechanism and that the mechanism was installed afterward (to improve the drummer's ability to tighten the snares). [Note: drums without snare mechanisms were not uncommon, especially early, as discussed below under the posting "Civil War or Earlier "Porter Blanchard" of Concord, New Hampshire".]

Unraveling the Mystery: In searching through images on the Internet I noticed a drum with a large five-pointed star surrounding a metal numeral "2" on the West Coast Civil War Collectors' ("WCCWC") website. That connection was obvious. This drum has a five-pointed painted star surrounding a metal number. My drum has a gold star with a "5" in it; this drum has a white star with a "2" in it. In addition, the WCCWC's drum was attribted to the 20th Corps., 2nd Div. That was the additional piece of information I needed.

Earl Robinson's Drum
(which he attributes to the 20th Corps (successor to the 12th Corps), 2nd Division)
West Coast Civil War Collectors ("WCCWC")

See the WCCWC's drums.

I emailed the contact persons mentioned on the website and within hours received a terrific reply from Earl Robinson who owns the White Star ("2") drum pictured on the website.

Earl wrote: "I found this drum [with star and numeral "2"] in Bunker Hill, West Virginia about 15 years ago without any history. It has no maker's label inside. The 12th Corps served in that area in 1862 and the star was their corps badge (migrating to the 20th Corps when they were reassigned to the Army of the West). Since red indicates first division and white second, and blue third, it was a reasonable assumption of mine that the drum, white star, numeral two and Bunker Hill locale added up as described."

The 12th Corps used the star as its corps badge! Off I went searching for information about the 12th Corps and, in particular, the 5th Division.


Confirming that the star was the badge of the 12th corps, see UNION ARMY 12TH CORPS (from Fox's Regimental Losses, Chap. VIII), which talks also of the Fifth Connecticut regiment of the 12th Corps -- BINGO!:

"The Twelfth Corps was small, but was composed of excellent material. Among its regiments were the Second Massachusetts, Seventh Ohio, Fifth Connecticut, One Hundred and Seventh New York, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania, Third Wisconsin, and others equally famous as crack regiments; all of them with names familiar as household words in the communities from which they were recruited."

See also "East Meets West, A Study in Soldierly Contrasts" citing as Source: "Jottings by a 15th Corps Boy," The Ohio Soldier, vol.2, no. 16, December 1, 1888. See also Echoes of Battle: The Struggle for Chattanooga under the heading Battles & Campaigns].; and
also see the distinctive unit insignia and the coat of arms of the 18th Field Artillery Regiment on the website of the Insitute of Heraldry, U.S. Army for official confirmation of the fact that the corps badge of Slocum's 12th Corps was a star.

That article also mentions the "White Stars" division (the star on Earl's drum is white, not gold like the star on my drum), and says that the 12th corps was composed of the Second Massachusetts regiment, the Fifth Connecticut regiment, and others. And, it confirms the red and white for first and second, respectively. Another clue -- the Fifth Connecticut. Not far fetched for a drum made in Boston to be used by the Fifth Connecticut regiment.

Apparently the star was adopted March 21, 1863, and the 12th corps was merged into the 20th corps, per "Designs of Civil War Corps Badges" which also states that badges were colored as follows:

"Red First Division of Corps
"White Second Division of Corps
"Blue Third Division of Corps
"Green Fourth Divsion of 6th, 9th and 20th Corps
"Yellow Fourth Division of 15th Corps
"Multicolor Headquarter or Artillery Elements (certain Corps)

"The Twelfth Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac was directed to wear a star as a corps badge by order of Major General Hooker issued on March 21, 1863. On September 23, 1863, the Eleventh and Twelfth corps were ordered detached from the Army of the Potomac and sent to Tennessee as reinforcements for Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland. On April 3, 1864, the Eleventh and Twelfth Army Corps were consolidated into a new corps designated the Twentieth and the star badge formerly of the Twelfth Army Corps adopted for the new corps. In part this was done because of the blemished record of the Eleventh Corps [a whole other story]. The Fourth Division of the corps was detached to continue service in the District of Tennessee and did not operate with the bulk of the corps in Georgia and the Carolinas.
" Source: Union Army Uniforms and Insignia of the Civil War, Twelfth and Twentieth Army Corps Badge.

Also, see Union Army Uniforms and Insignia of the Civil War , Unit Insignia for similar brass regimental numbers.

WHAT WE KNOW NOW: My drum appears to have been used by the 12th corps, 5th Regiment (possibly Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, "C.V.I."). The Fifth Regiment Infantry (Connecticut) served as part of the 12th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, from September, 1862 to April, 1864. "The Civil War Archive", "Union Regimental Histories" citing as Source - "A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion" by Frederick H. Dyer (Part 3).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Bunker Hill" Drum Raises Questions -- 1775?, 1776?, 1825?, or What?

An email arrived recently with a couple of photos of a rope drum and a simple request: "Is it possible to tell from the photo who might have made this drum and roughly when it might have been made?"

The photos (see below) are interesting. One showed a beautiful, apparently old, rope drum with a painted Union Shield design and banners reading "BUNKER HILL" and "1776".

The other photo showed a label (possibly from a commemorative envelope) with a red, white and blue American Flag (36 stars, approximately) and the words, "A double immortality for April 19th LEXINGTON and BALTIMORE".

Here follows the thread of emails exchanged on this drum.

Please feel free to add any information you believe useful.



From: John Shaw
Sent: Tue 2/5/2008 4:57 PM
To: Ellis Mirsky
Subject: A Question on a Rope Tension Drum


"Greetings. Joe MacSweeney [Eames Drum Company] suggested I write you regarding the possible maker and date of manufacture of a rope tension drum. The drum belongs to a colleague who provided me the two photos attached with this e-mail.

"One photos is of the drum, indicating "Bunker Hill 1776". Of course, the battle of Bunker Hill took place in June 1775, but possibly the drum refers to a ceremony that occurred in 1776 or refers to Fort Bunker Hill in NY, which came into existence in 1776.

"The other photo is of a label pasted inside of the drum, across from the hole in the barrel, which unfortunately is right where I think the manufacturer's label would have been (were there one originally). The label appears to have come from an envelope used during the Civil war. From what I can find out, there were thousands of different designs made during that time for "patriotic envelopes". In any event, the handwriting on the label reads "This drum was beat on Bunker Hill in 1776". Of course, we don't know whether the writer was making a conjecture 90 years after the battle, or recording some oral history that had been handed down from one generation to the next.

"The diameter of the drum is 16.75", while the height is 14.25".

"Is it possible to tell from the photo who might have made this drum and roughly when it might have been made?

"All the best.

"John Shaw


From: Ellis Mirsky
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2008 05:54:37 -0500
To: Shaw, John J
Subject: RE: A Question on a Rope Tension Drum


Thanks for writing. I'll do my best with this. I don't have much at this point.

First, nice drum. This is the first time I've seen such artwork. As you point out, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought June 17, 1775. But fighting in the Boston area certainly continued into 1776 when the British evacuated Boston (March 17, 1776). Source Source The artwork on the drum says "Bunker Hill" and "1776". And, the pasted paper inside the shell says that the drum was beaten at Bunker Hill in 1776. It's possible, but there are other possibilities.

First, though, assuming the label was not someone's idea of a joke or someone's error in interpreting the outside shell's beautiful artwork, a drum looking somewhat like that drum (approximate size or aspect ratio -- diameter to height -- and top counter hoop) is William Diamond's drum, beaten in 1758 (more on that below).

And, assuming that the outside artwork has some significance and was not just someone's idea of dressing up a drum, for example to evoke patriotic emotion, it might be that the purpose of the artwork was to commemorate the Revolution against England and the fighting in the Boston area, highlighted by the Battle of Bunker Hill which, together with the fighting in April, 1775 at Lexington and Concord, was one of the early battles of the Revolutionary War. The battle was significant for many reasons, including that it dispelled the notion that the American volunteers could not fight or stand up to the British regulars. So, Bunker Hill would have been something to commemorate.

Indeed, "[i]n 1843 a monument, 221 ft. high, in the form of an obelisk, of Quincy granite, was completed on Breed's Hill (now Bunker Hill) to commemorate the battle, when an address was delivered by Daniel Webster, who had also delivered the famous dedicatory oration at the laying of the corner-stone in 1825. Bunker Hill day is a state holiday." Source

So, efforts to memorialize the battle began as early as 1825 (50th anniversary). The drum could date from that time.

As you note there was also a Fort Bunker Hill in lower New York County (Manhattan) built in April 1776 as one of some fourteen emplacements set up to help the Continental Army defend Manhattan. Source Source

"Fort Bunker Hill,(1776) was first called the Independent Battery and Bayard's Hill Redoubt, it was located on Bayard's Hill (or Bayard's Mount) which extended between Grand and Broome from Mott to Centre, this part of the patriots fortification stretched as far as Broadway. The Americans defensive line went across NYC. To the east of Bunker Hill it rose between Grand and Broome Streets to Fort Pitt on Grand between Ridge and Pitt, and then to Jones Hill Fort at Grand and Columbia Steets. West of Broadway it continued northwest to another forbidding stronghold (name unknown) at Thompson and Spring Streets. " Source

However, the label says that the drum was beat "on" or "in" Bunker Hill, not "at" "Fort" Bunker Hill. I'd say the greater likelihood is the more obvious of the two possibilities -- Bunker Hill in Massachusetts, rather that Fort Bunker Hill in what is now New York City.

The large diameter (16-3/4") is certainly good in terms of dating it to the mid-1800s. Larger diameter drums beat louder, lower tones capable of being heard farther and of cutting through battle clatter.

Note the discoloration around the vent hole, indicative of there once having been a grommet, possibly white bone (which I might replace -- Jim Ellis at Cooperman Drum Company in Vermont can do/supply that).

The top counter hoop is similar to that in a drum in the Fort Ticonderoga Museum.
Unfortunately, I don't know much more about that drum at this point but assume it's from the 1700s. The lapped and tacked joint is similar and the drilled holes are also similar on that drum and on your drum.

Also, see a similar counter hoop configuration viz. drilled holes in a drum dating to 1758, and being the drum beaten by William Diamond at the Battle of Lexington.

The photo of William Diamond's drum does not show any snare mechanism hardware (but it could be hidden). Early drums did not have any snare mechanism hardware, such as that on your drum. Gut snares were simply pulled through and tightened along with the heads all at one time -- some job!

Of course, your drum could be early from the 1700s with an after-added snare mechanism, possibly mid-1800s.

So, the bottom line is that I don't know. But, unless there's good reason to doubt the clues, it is certainly possible that the drum was beaten at Bunker Hill in 1776 (or 1775 during the famous battle).



Ellis Mirsky


On 2/8/08 5:28 PM, Ellis Mirsky wrote:


More as to the label – the link between Lexington and Baltimore as to April 19 is that early fighting began in those places in the War for Independence (Lexington) and in the War Between the States (Baltimore):

April 19, 1775: On April 19, 1775, British and American soldiers exchanged fire in the Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord. On the night of April 18, the royal governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage, commanded by King George III to suppress the rebellious Americans, had ordered 700 British soldiers, under Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith and Marine Major John Pitcairn, to seize the colonists' military stores in Concord, some 20 miles west of Boston.

April 19, 1861: A clash between pro-South civilians and Union troops in Maryland's largest city resulted in what is commonly accepted to be the first bloodshed of the Civil War. Secessionist sympathy was strong in Baltimore, a border state metropolis.

Hence the words "A double immortality for April 19th LEXINGTON and BALTIMORE" on the label.

So, the label was printed after 4/19/1861. The Bunker Hill drum could be from earlier times, but the label is from 1861.

My earlier email re the number of stars (looks like 36) could pin down the label, at least, to the period 10/31/1864 to 3/1/1867.

Interestingly, on May 13, 1861 Federal Troops (including the 6th Regiment, Massachusetts Militia, that was attacked April 19th, 1861 by a mob in Baltimore as they travelled to Washington DC to protect the city) occupied Baltimore and martial law was declared, squelching most subsequent pro-Confederate activities. Federal forces continued to maintain an occupying presence in Baltimore for the remainder of the war.

So, there is a definite connection between Massachusetts (not just Lexington) and Baltimore. Note that during the April, 1861 riots, the 6th Regiment's band was unable to get out of Baltimore so replacement band instruments could have been needed for the May occupation of Baltimore.

A guess: I wonder whether the Bunker Hill Drum came down from Massachusetts with the 6th Regiment for the May, 1861 occupation force in Baltimore. The pro-Union inside label is consistent with such a hypothesis. Certainly makes things interesting. That would mean that the drum might also have been beaten in Baltimore. And, I could imagine such a drum being used in Baltimore to "stick it to the rebels" there and remind people of the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Revolution in order to reinforce the notion that these boys from Massachusetts won't cut and run, but that they are there for the duration. And they were.


From: Ellis Mirsky
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 11:31 AM
To: 'John Shaw'
Subject: Further to A Question on a Rope Tension Drum

I'm not sure we can make much of the label in the Bunker Hill drum, but I'll try. The flag in the label looks like it shows 6 rows of 6 stars or 36 stars altogether (if I am not mistaken). The U.S. flag sported 36 stars from 10/31/1864 to 3/1/1867 although the layout was not a rectangular array – it was rows of 8,6,8,6 and 8 stars. The flag on the label could have been intended to show 36 stars and artistic license taken as to the array arrangement.

Also, *** I looked for a snare mechanism that looks like the one on the Bunker Hill drum. I have a drum by John Lowell ca. 1850 inscribed on a paper label:

John Lowell
Manufacturer and
Dealer in all kinds of
Musical Instruments
No. 4 Maine St.

Compare similar handwriting on the label in the Bunker Hill drum.

But, more interesting is the snare mechanism which looks pretty similar on both drums.

Also the lapped and tacked upper counter hoop with drilled holes (8 on the John Lowell drum, 10 on the Bunker Hill drum) are very similar.

Bottom line: There are similarities between your "Bunker Hill drum" and one by John Lowell, ca. 1850 (pictured below).



"Your narrative of the Mass 6th Regiment engaged in Baltimore in 1861 is quite intriguing, and inspired me to search for other information on that regiment. I've only started (now that I have some breathing time), but did locate an interesting article on that regiment at "The Continental Line" web site. According to that article, "The core of the officer corps had begun service with the Lexington Alarm in April of 1775" with the officer core officially coming into existence in November 1776.

"Another site () goes on to say:

"SIXTH REGIMENT -- COL. PARSONS' -- 1775 [Raised on the first call for troops in April-May, 1775. Recruited from New London, Hartford, and present Middlesex Counties. Two companies, including Capt. Coit's, marched at once to Boston, and Capt. Mott's was ordered to the Northern Dept. The other companies remained on duty at New London until June 17, when they were ordered by the Governor's Council to the Boston camps. There the regiment took post at Roxbury in Gen. Spencer's Brigade, and remained until the expiration of term of service, Dec. 10 75. Adopted as Continental. Regiment re-organized under Col. Parsons for service in 76

"A conjecture: could this drum have been with the original Massachusetts Old Sixth, with "Bunker Hill" possibly signifying an early battle (perhaps its first), and '1776' signifying when the regiment was officially formed up?

"More to research here!!
"All the best.


Monday, March 24, 2008

William F. Ludwig, II Passes

The Chief
William F. Ludwig II

"It is with deep regret that we report the passing of the patriarch of the Ludwig Drum Company, William F. Ludwig II, respectfully known as “The Chief.” Bill was 91 years old and has been in declining health for a few years. The Chief passed from this Earth to his position as principal timpanist in heaven’s orchestra on Saturday, March 22nd, 2008. We can hear that thunderous roll now.

"Bill Ludwig lived a long and productive life and was a mentor to so many percussionists and the music industry. He was a true leader that developed so many percussion products and marketing concepts to promote music and percussion education and further along the advancement of percussion instruments and performance throughout the world.

"We are so blessed to have known and worked with this powerhouse of a man for his vision, dedication and passion for percussion. It is said that the greatest legacy that anyone can leave in this world is “making a difference.” Well, Bill Ludwig made a difference in our world of drums and percussion that is legendary and we are all the heirs to his accomplishments.

"Thank you Chief. You inspired us to carry on from here. You will be missed, but always remembered and honored.


"Jim Catalano - Ludwig"


Three Generations of Ludwigs
William Ludwig, Sr., II, and III

The Chief's Autograph on
1911 Rope Field Snare Drum
(manufacturer uncertain)
Collection of E. Mirsky

William F. Ludwig, II plays "Three Camps"

Other Tributes:

"Hail to 'The Chief', In memory of William F. Ludwig II, 1916-2008" by Michael Boo, on DCI's website.

"William F Ludwig II – A Personal Tribute" on ADC Drums and Percussion's website.

"William F Ludwig II, September 13, 1916–March 22, 2008" by Rob Cook.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

1841 Porter Blanchard Snare Drum on eBay is Talking, But What is it Saying?

Handwritten Inscriptions on Drum Head:
This 16-1/2" diameter x 17" tall pre-Civil War snare drum currently offered on eBay as item #260222582719 has an India ink inscription in fancy script on the batter head reading, ""- - - t Canterbury / New Hampshire / April 20, 1841", and another reading, "John Wheeler".

Label is Familiar:
The seller reports being able to see a partial label, "Manufactured and for Sale by Porter Blanc[???] / Concord, New Hampshire." Well, readers of this blog will readily recognize those clues. This is a Porter Blanchard, for sure.

The label on another Porter Blanchard drum:
Porter Blanchard drums have been the subject of a previous posting in this blog at "Civil War or Earlier "Porter Blanchard" of Concord, New Hampshire" And there can be seen a small photo of a label that looks like it might be the same vintage as the label in this drum.

"Bass and Tenor Drums / Ebony Drum-sticks / B and C FIFES / Manufactured / and For Sale / by / Porter Blancard. / A few rods north of the State-House / Concord New Hamshire.

That label is from another Porter Blanchard drum described at eBay #220210748329. That drum, reported to be 16" diam. x 18" tall, sold at eBay auction March 16, 2008 for $786.00 to ebayer "horncollector", a collector and dealer in brass instruments with 1001 eBay evaluations under his belt. See horncollector's webpage.

Chalk Markings Inside Shell:
The auctioneer also reports two appearances of chalk numbers "41". Just a guess here, but when I was in Basel two years ago, I learned that Swiss drums come in several sizes, including 41, 42 and 45 cm in diameter. Is it possible that Porter Blanchard was using the metric system in 1841? Note that 41 centimeters @ 2.54 cm/in. is 16.14 inches. The auctioneer reports the diameter as 16.5 inches (let's assume that is the counterhoops' outer diameter). Assuming counterhoops were 3/8" in thickness, that would be twice 3/8 or .75 inches, plus 16.14 inches equals 16.89 inches. Add a slight clearance and we have a Bingo at 17 inches. But the auctioneer reports only 16.5 inches. The George Castanza answer is "shrinkage; what, you never heard of shrinkage?"

Auctioneer's Comments:

A Restored Porter Blanchard Drum:
James D. Julia auctioned this beauty, restored by Bill Reamer of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for a reported $230 (including the buyer's premium; I could not determine the date of sale). Yikes, someone got a buy!

"PRE-CIVIL WAR NEW HAMPSHIRE ROPE-TENSION SNARE DRUM. This is a very nice, orig, late 1850s-style, American, plain-sided, maple, rope-tension snare drum with an orig affixed label for a well-known Concord, NH manufacturer. Drum is 17-1/4” tall x 16-1/2” wide. There are no decorations painted or otherwise applied to the exterior of the drum shell. It has bright red drum hoops. Drum has on orig period label fixed to the interior of the drum shell body that has been covered with a clear, acid-free sheet as part of the restoration/preservative process. Period printed label reads, “Bass & Tenor Drums / Ebony Drum-Sticks / B & C Fifes / Manufactured / and for sale by / Porter Blanchard / Concord, New-Hampshire”. This drum was restored (new antiqued ropes and leather tighteners, repainted orig hoops) by William Reamer of Lancaster, PA, in 2004, and is marked as such on the interior. This drum would add charm and display very nicely in any living space or gun/collection room. CONDITION: Good. 4-32932 JS267 (700-1,000)"

More Interesting Stuff on Porter Blanchard:
Porter Blanchard, b. 16 Aug 1788, d. 25 May 1871; m. Ann Stickney Souther, per "History & Geneology, Merrimack, Hillsborough County, N.H." The date of Porter's marriage to Ann appears to have been 4 Nov 1810, per "History of an American Family.

According to Sherry Gould posting to rootsweb, Porter Blanchard "...furnished drums and fifes for the militia in New Hampshire as found in old record books in the Adjunct General Archives office in Concord, NH from an account book dated July 20, 1835 - 1836; pg 89. There were several other entries; I only copied this one where he furnished 78 drums at $5.00 each for $390.00 and 78 fifes @ .75 each for $58.50."

Yet More Interesting Stuff:
Blanchard butter-worker, The
Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc., The, Sep 2003 by Hall, Elton W.

The Blanchard Butter Churn:
"This is an example of a Blanchard butter churn. It was made by Porter Blanchard's Sons Company. Porter Blanchard was a craftsman in Concord, New Hampshire who started in business in 1818. His sons, George and Charles, joined him in the business and then Porter passed away in 1871. George and Charles continued the company under the name Porter Blanchard's Sons. On June 4, 1878 George was granted a patent for this butter churn. The patent dealt with the design of the dasher blades. In the patent papers George said his patent was for an improvement in the well-known Blanchard churn. He implied that the Blanchard churn had already been available for sale and well accepted. In fact an 1876 catalog of the International Exhibition in Philadelphia had a claim that the celebrated Blanchard churn had been proved for over a quarter of a century and over 100,000 were in successful operation." Doug & Linda's Dairy Antique Site. More than 100,000! I guess the Blanchards didn't need to make drums any more.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thompson & Odell Co. Drums

Currently up for auction on eBay as item #280211000591 is a drum described as "Thompson & Odell Co. Indian War Period Drum".

Boston's Thompson & Odell operated from 1872 to 1905. See American Banjo Makers by Stuart Cohen, Mugwumps magazine, Vol. 7, No. 1.

According to mugwumps "Thompson & Odell were Boston instrument manufacturers and music dealers in business 1872-1905. Founded by I.H. Odell in 1872 who took in C.W. Thompson as a partner the following year, they made a diverse line of instruments using the "Artist" and "Crescent" brand names, and were an important part of the Boston musical scene for many years. They incorporated in 1891 and Odell left the business the next year; Thompson died in 1903 and the company was forced into bankruptcy in 1905." See Mugwumps FAQs.

And, according to "Lew" posting on TubNet BBS, 9/21/2002, "Thompson & Odell is listed in the Langwill directory. The business was founded in 1874 as a music store and publishing business. In 1884 they took over the 'Quinby Brothers' facilities and began manufacturing brass instruments, mainly using the name 'Standard Band Instrument Co.' Quinby brothers, also Hall & Quinby and Hall, Quinby, & Wright, Co. were one of the better brass instrument makers of their time (1861-1884). E.G. Wright was one of the principals of the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory before joining Quinby. In 1900 Carl Fischer bought out the music publishing part of the business and in 1909 instrument production was taken over by the Vega Co. Most of their instruments had the Standard Band Instrument Co. name on them, although some were made with the Thompson & Odell label."

All of which brings us to this Thompson & Odell Co. drum now on eBay.

[Note, kudos to the auctioneer, Homestead Auctions, 6825 Wales Ave NW, North Canton, OH United States 44720, 330.966.0854. The drum was previously described on eBay as "Civil War" which we pointed out was incorrect. Homestead Auctions listened and corrected the posting promptly.]

Other Thompson & Odell Drums:

The National Music Museum has a Thompson & Odell in its collection.

See "Portrait view of snare drum by J. B. Treat, Boston, 1905" The museum's website describes the drum:

"NMM 10045. Snare drum by J. B. Treat for Thompson and Odell, Boston, 1905. Paper label affixed inside shell, visible through vent hole: THE CELEBRATED / "ARTIST DRUM." / MADE BY / J.B. TREAT., followed by a long advertisement by Thompson and Odell, dated November 1905. Wood shell with natural finish, 225mm (8-7/8") x 421mm (16-9/16"). Twelve leather tugs. Wood rims with the outside edge painted black, with twelve metal hooks through which the rope passes. Brass snare adjuster. Ex coll.: Armand Zildjian. William F. Ludwig II Collection, 2001."

"Lit.: Jayson Dobney, Innovations in American Snare Drums 1850-1920, M.M. Thesis (Vermillion: University of South Dakota, 2003), pp. 140-141."

Another Thompson & Odell Drum:

This drum is in my collection.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Perfectionists, The History of Rudimental Snare Drumming from Military Code to Field Competition

Ken Mazur's terrific article titled "The Perfectionists, The History of Rudimental Snare Drumming from Military Code to Field Competition", from the April, 2005 edition of Percussive Notes, p. 10, et seq., published by the Persussive Arts Society, is available at CADRE's (Canadian Associates Drumming Rudimental Excellence) on-line library. CADRE's website is an excellent source of authoritative information on rudimental drumming.

[Note: My father, Joe Mirsky (now age 86 and pictured below in a recent jam session playing a 1986 Cooperman Fife & Drum Co. 6-ply rosewood 18"x18" snare drum), 1939 NYS VFW Junior Snare Drum Champion, is quoted in the Mazur article.]

The Perfectionists -- The History of Rudimental Snare Drumming

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Historic Drum of the First Corps of Cadets, Massachusetts

[Note: A few pretty offerings emerged this week to be auctioned at Mike Kent Auctions' "Civil War & Military Artifacts" auction to be held March 29, 2008 in Dalton, Georgia. Among those items is the below-discussed drum of the First Corps of Cadets.

Post-Auction Follow-up: According to a telephone interview with the auctioneer, the auction of this drum drew substantial interest, including three eBay bidders, one floor bidder and two telephone bidders. See eBay for additional information.

First Corps of Cadets, Organized 1726:
18" x 17" drum with painted seal of the First Corps of Cadets organized in 1726 as a bodyguard unit to the royal governor of the Province of Massachusetts.

What is the First Corps of Cadets?
"The First Corps of Cadets is the oldest military unit in continuous existence in the United States; it was chartered in 1741 as the bodyguard of the Governor of the province of Massachusetts Bay and took active part in the War for Independence, the Civil War and both World Wars. *** As the personal bodyguard of the British governor, it was called upon to protect life and property during the Stamp Act upheavals and the Hutchinson Riots. When in 1774 a quarrel arose between Governor Gage and Corps Commander John Hancock, the unit severed its connection with the British government, and its members joined the American forces." Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center. The First Corps of Cadets was organized in 1741 as an outgrowth of the Governor's Company of Cadets, part of the militia before and since the Revolution. "History of the Town of Hingham, Massachusetts", published by the Town, 1893, p. 373, digitized by Google.

The Armory of the First Corps of Cadets is an Historic Landmark (located at 97-105 Arlington St. and 130 Columbus Ave., Boston, Massachusetts). And the First Corps of Cadets Museum is located at 227 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Massachusetts. For an extensive history of the First Corps of Cadets see "History of Forty-Fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, The Cadet Regiment", compiled by Albert W. Mann, Historian of the Regiment, 1908, digitized by Google.

"The First Corps of Cadets is now designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 211th Military Police Battalion. It has been one of the premier organizations of the Massachusetts National Guard serving in five wars. Its primary contribution to the Commonwealth and nation has been as an officer producing institution for new regiments from the Revolutionary War through World War II." Source:

"A six-pointed mullet of rays, one point up charged with a bezant bearing a cross Gules encircled with a garter Azure inscribed 'MONSTRAT VIAM 1741' (It Points The Way) of the first." Source: The Institute of Heraldry, Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army.

Label Inside Attributes the Drum to Prentiss of Boston:
A label inside the drum reportedly reads: "M[possibly H?] Prentiss / 33 Court St / Boston" (we will soon have additional information on this label).

H. Prentiss was Henry H. Prentiss (b. Roxbury, 25 June 1801; d. Boston, 1860), per “The Keyed Bugle”, Second Edition, Dudgeon, Ralph T., Scarecrow Press, Inc.,1993, Chapter 8, “Keyed Bugle Makers and Sellers, p. 291.

Another Prentiss Drum Sits in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
Another Prentiss drum is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The MFA describes the drum as "probably 1834", distributed by: Henry H. Prentiss, American, 1801–1860, Boston, Massachusetts, United States, height 35.5 cm, diameter 42 cm (height 14 in., diameter 16 9/16 in.), maple.

And, Who Knows Where This One (below) Went? Militaria and Americana by Northeast Auctions, sold this drum (below) of a similiar genre (no attribution, as far as I am aware, to a particular maker, but the artist is identified) as part of its sale of the Guthman Collection, but where is it now? [if you know, please email us]:

Photo Source: Antiques and Fine Art website.

Northeast Auctions' 2006 auction of the William H. Guthman Collection provides the following information:

"William H. Guthman Collection, Oct 12, 2006
"Lot # 612
"Sold: 29,250.00

"Painted with an adaptation of the Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts within flags and trumpets, the banners inscribed 'City Guards' and "Instituted Sept. 1821,' the red and black striped sides within black bands, appears to retain its original skins and hoops, signed and dated beneath the shield "Chs. Hubbard./ Boston/ 1824.' Height 17 1/2 inches, diameter 17 inches. Charles Hubbard (1801-76) worked in Boston from the mid-1820's until 1869. In 1834 he advertised as a sign and ornamental painter, and painter of military standards and masonic regalia. This drum was painted for the volunteer militia regiment Boston City Guards, using their insignia adapted from the seal of Massachusetts as the decoration. Literature: Discussed and illustrated in William Guthman, 'American Militia Drums, 1775-1845,' THE MAGAZINE ANTIQUES, July 1982, p. 155, fig. 12.

See brochure from Guthman auction.

Guthman Articles:
If you have a copy of either of these articles written by William H. Guthman and published in The Magazine Antiques, I'd appreciate an email from you.:

July, 1982, Page 148-155. American militia drums, 1775-1845.
July, 1984, Page 124-133. Decorated American militia equipment.

And see October 22, 1881 New York Times article about the First Corps of Cadets escorting the Governor of Massachusetts in New York City en route home from the centenial celebration in Yorktown, Virginia.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Civil War Drums of Edward Baack

Drum maker, flute maker, politico, scoundrel? -- Who was Edward Baack?
Terry McGee reports in the "Chiff & Fipple" blog under the topic "Edward Baack Flute":"Edward Baack rates as one of the more interesting characters in flute making history. Born Hamburg in June 1809, died NY 14 Dec 1893. Flourished NY 1837-1893. According to an unsubstantiated family tradition, he went to the US as a deserter from the German army in 1832. Set up as an importer and dealer with Paulus from 1837, then listed as a maker 1864-1872. Then retired insolvent due to wartime debts and economic crises. His premises included the retail downstairs, manufactory upstairs, and his home, wife and 12 children."

The New York Times for June 23, 1858, p. 5, reported that an Edward Baack (possibly the same person as the drum and flute maker) was one of many supporters of Hon. John B. Haskin, Representative to Congress from the 9th Congressional District who met at the principal hall in Morrisania (now part of the Bronx) to support the congressman. And the Times for November 16, 1871, p. 1, reported that an Edward Baack, Jr. ran (but lost) for Receiver of Taxes as an Independent Democrat from the Town of West Farms (also now part of the Bronx but apparently part of Westchester County at the time).

Interestingly, the "Annual Report of the State Engineer & Surveyor of the State of New York", etc. for the year ending September 30, 1868 (p. 684) reports that Edward Baack was President of the Harlem Bridge, Morrisania and Fordham Railway Company as of December 15, 1868 and both Baack and the same John B. Haskin (both of Fordham, New York, now part of the Bronx), were listed among the directors.

And "Thomas" reports in his blog "I Wear Tight Genes":
"I've found a few obits so far, but this little bit from Jan 12, 1871, caught my eye:

'Judge Blatchford, of the United States Court, has granted the motion of the plantiffs in the case of the Manufacturer's National Bank of Chicago vs. EDWARD BAACK and EDWARD BAACK, Sr., of this City, for the appointment of a receiver and for an injunction, holding that the court had full jurisdiction in the case.'

"Interesting, eh? At the time, the Baack clan was living in West Farms, Westchester Co. (for the most part), and 2 years after this notice, Ed Jr. loses an election to become the county receiver of taxes. G.E. Valley Jr. did a lot of research regarding a family legend centering around the Baack dynasty: That H. Edward Sr. had gained quite a lot of money, but then lost most of it after the Civil War due to having sold bugles to the Confederates. His research eventually turned up nothing surrounding this legend, but this little hit in the NY Times may be some indication that the family was going through financial troubles anyway at around the same time period.

So, were there two Edward Baack's? Yes, father and son. Were there three? Who knows? Seems unlikely that the politico from West Farms (now part of the Bronx) would have been able to maintain a shop to make drums on Fulton Street (downtown Manhattan) and commute daily in pre-subway times. Also, the obit referred to above indicates that he lived with his family in the same building as his "manufactory" which appears to have been on Fulton Street (decidedly not West Farms). And although musical instrument makers are generally skilled people, the thought of Edward Baack the German-born drum-, flute- (and oboe-) maker moonlighting as (or becoming) President of a railway is just too far fetched to be probable. So, my conclusion is that Edward Baack the musical instrument maker and Edward Baack the railroad president were two different people, but possibly father and son.

Eric Totman ( generously posted photos of his 1860s restored Edward Baack drum for the world to see.

Another Baack Drum:

The Dec. 7, 2006 sale for $3,500 by Cowan's in its Fall Historic Americana and Militaria auction of another Baack drum (the eagle drum pictured above) was reported by and described as follows:

"121st Regiment U.S. Infantry Painted Snare Drum, brown wood drum with typical hand-painted patriotic eagle bearing a US shield and banner in its beak that reads 121st Reg. U.S. Infantry. Stylized sunrays with white painted stars scattered against the blue background. Red painted top and bottom wood rims. Nine brown leather tension mounts. Bottom drumhead with stenciled black letters D.C. Connely, Stewart's Run, PA. Green paper label on inside of drum reads Edward Baack No. 87 Fulton Street New York Manufacturers and Importers of Drums, Banjos and Tamborines and All Kinds of Brass and Wooden Instruments. Bands Supplied on the Most Reasonable Terms. 15" height, 16.5" diameter. Complete with pair of 17" black painted wood drumsticks. The generic eagle drum with regulation military symbols is not specifically identified to a particular state and the high-numbered 121st painted banner could pertain to a volunteer regiment from Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, or USCT. The cryptic reference to Steward's Run, PA is a good starting point for further research.
Condition report: Rope is a replacement. Both drumheads are in good condition, but soiled and showing water stains. Hand-painted eagle with numerous regions of severe paint loss. Rims retain ca 90% original red paint."

And a Baack Bass Drum:

Images on website courtesy of Garth's Auctions.

Described by Garth's as follows:

"CAMPAIGN DRUM FOR GROVER CLEVELAND. An early Civil War era drum by "Edward Baack, 87 Fulton St., New York" with worn original paint and an inlaid star on the side. The hand painted bust of Cleveland and banners, "Grover Cleveland", "Our Next President" are on one side only and have areas of wear. Cleveland was elected in 1884 and then again in 1892. Died in 1908. Restoration to one head and a tear on the other. 36 1/2"d. 18 1/4"h."

Also, Kovel's ( auctioneers lists having sold an Eagle Baack with red hoops and a New York label and stencil in 2000 for a mere $795.

In addition to making drums, Baack made flutes. See three examples in the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection Here they are:

And Baack flutes (plus many Civil War drums) are reported to be part of the collection of the MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Maine History Gallery, Wadsworth-Longfellow House), 485 Congress Street, 04101 (207-879-0427) FAX (207-775-4301).

Wait, there's more -- Baaack oboes: "The Oboe", by Geoffrey Burgess and Bruce Haynes, Yale Musical Instrument Series, p. 169 refers to "[A]n oboe bearing the name of Edward Baack (1802 - p.1871), who ... operated out of New York ...."

P.R. Winn, Drummaker

An article by W. Lee Vinson, author and publisher of and . For Lee's story about ...