Friday, July 3, 2009

Cut Down Brown Drum in Vicksburg Museum

This photo of a heavily tacked drum, and the below accompanying information, from the website of the National Park Service's Virtual Museum of Vicksburg National Military Park.

Wood, Brass. Dia 45, H 45 cm
Vicksburg National Military Park , VICK 841

Musical Instruments in Battle

Musicians, particularly drummers, played a crucial role during the Civil War. They helped raise troop morale. Drummer boys woke the troops, called them to meals, and on the battlefield, tapped out rhythms to help units stay together.

Orion Howe, a 14-year old musician served with the 55th Illinois Infantry at Vicksburg. He played both drum and fife. The Howe family carried these fifes, and Orion played a drum similar to this, during the 47-day Siege of Vicksburg. During the Vicksburg Campaign, Howe's unit came under fire at the battle of Stockade Redan. His unit was running low on cartridges. Young Howe was ordered to make his way to the supply wagon and secure more cartridges. Dodging gunfire, Orion was struck by a miniƩ ball that severely wounded his thigh. This didn't stop him from trying to fulfill his orders. Major William T. Sherman told the bleeding young boy to seek medical treatment. Howe refused to leave until Sherman promised that he would get the desperately needed cartridges to his unit. Only then, did Howe leave the battlefield to have his leg tended. For his bravery, Orion received the Medal of Honor, America's highest military award. To date, he is the youngest recipient of this award.

Compare the tack pattern on the center drum in the photo below (from the collection of the National Music Museum,

with the tack pattern on the Vicksburg drum. It is clearly the same, the Vicksburg drum having unfortunately been cut down.

(Center Drum: NMM 10039. Side drum by Eli Brown & Son, Bloomfield, Connecticut, 1841. Printed on paper label inside drum shell, visible through vent hole: ELI BROWN & SON. / DRUM MANUFACTURERS, / HAVE CONSTANTLY FOR SALE / BASS AND SNARE DRUMS / MADE IN THE NEATEST AND BEST MANNER / Bloomfield, Conn. 1841. Maple shell, natural finish, 495mm (19-1/2") x 471mm (18-1/2"). Rope tension. Ten leather tugs. Wood rims painted red, with holes drilled for the rope to pass through. Brass snare adjuster. William F. Ludwig II Collection, 2001. Lit.: Jayson Dobney, "Museum Enhances its Percussion Collections with Rare Instruments That Document the American Percussion Industry," America's Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2002), pp. 4-5. -------, Innovations in American Snare Drums 1850-1920, M.M. Thesis (Vermillion: University of South Dakota, 2003), pp. 105-107.)

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