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).

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