Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Eagle Drum Traced to Levi Perry, 4th Maine Volunteer Regiment

Letter from James Robinson, a Reader:

My name is James Robinson and I have a civil war drum that was played by my ancestor Levi Perry I believe in 1861 or so.  Anyway, it is in as good of shape as the one in this photo on your site [Met Museum's Soistmann Eagle Drum] and I have the sticks with it.  I am a drummer myself of 45 years.  I have no children to pass it on to as it was passed to me.  I would like to sell it to someone who would take care of it.  If you can help, let me know and I will saend pictures.

Thank You
James Robinson
I received the following photos (click on them to enlarge):
Note the following: the full painted emblazonment is not visible (top of sunburst is covered by top counterhoop and bottom of arrows are covered by the bottom counterhoop).  That information, considered with the views of the top and bottom heads (below) which reveal that the counterhoops are seated at approximately correct distances, suggests that the shell has been cut down, perhaps an inch of so on both ends.

Note that the regiment number has not been painted in, suggesting that this drum was Civil War army surplus, and was not assigned to a unit for service.

Note that the ends of the upper and lower triangular arrays of tacks are obscured by the counterhoops (the bottom more so than the top), also supporting the possibility that the shell has been cut down.

Note the drum sticks (above and below) are not dark hardwood.  The shape of the sticks is not familiar to the Blogmaster.

I did a little Google research on Levi Perry:
Army at home: women and the Civil War on the northern home front By Judith Ann Giesberg
Introduction: p. 183, ft. nt. 31:
"This issue seems to have plagued many farm families.  Levi Perry, a soldier serving in a Maine regiment, for instance, wrote home to his mother when he found out that his brother had enlisted. 'I think [Chandler] has done wrong for he promised me when I left home that he would stay and take care of things at home.'  Perry worried that 'now there is no one to look to things but you.' Levi Perry to 'Mother,' July 26, 1862, in Silber and Sievens, Yankee Correspondence, 138."

Family or govermant [sic]      (843  3 )  
.... War. Pg.128 2.) Levi Perry, from an article by Andy DeRoche, "Blending Loyalties Maine Soldiers Respond To The Civil War," Pg.129 …. 
Andy DeRoche, 303-678-3825
Boulder County Campus Social Sciences
[I left a voice message for Andy DeRoche who wrote to me May 20. More material may be coming from him re Levi Perry.]

Perry family correspondence, 1861-1864 by Perry family (book) in English and held by 1 library worldwide  
Correspondence of the following members of the Perry family who served in the Civil War, Levi Perry: served with 4th Maine Regiment all four years of the war. Most of his correspondence (about forty letters) is to his mother Sarah Hall Perry (1861-1864). Chandler Perry, Jr. and Tad (?) Perry: correspondence to their mother Sarah Hall Perry (1863). Chandler Perry, Sr.: Correspondence to his wife Sarah (1861). Perry joined the 4th Maine Regiment, Company D, as hospital nurse and was taken prisoner in 1861. He died in Libby Prison of typhoid fever. Other topics represented include the Maine militia.
The material described in this catalog record is located in the collections of the Maine Historical Society, Portland, Me.

76. LEVI13 PERRY (DIMON12, ALICE11 SOULE, MERCY10 SOUTHWORTH, MARY9 PABODIE, ELIZABETH8 ALDEN, PRISCILLA7 MULLINS, ALICE6 ATWOOD, NICHOLAS5, JOHN HEWSON4, JOHN3, JOHN2, PETER1) was born February 16, 1776 in Pembroke, Mass., and died July 12, 1847 in Poland, Maine. He married NANCY DWYNE December 01, 1796 in Poland, Maine. She died April 07, 1861 in Poland, Maine.       
Children of LEVI PERRY and NANCY DWYNE are: 
i.    JOEL S14 PERRY, b. December 08, 1797; d. September 17, 1865.
ii.   ARTIMIS PERRY, b. January 17, 1800.
iii.  ABIGAIL PERRY, b. May 25, 1806.
iv.  LEVI PERRY, b. August 22, 1808; m. BETHIA B. PERRY; b. July 24,1836.
v.   ALASON PERRY, b. April 22, 1813.
vi.  JOHN L PERRY, b. May 02, 1816; d. 1876.
vii.  ALMIRA PERRY, b. November 03, 1803; d. 1861.

Levi Perry served as a corporal with the Fourth Maine Volunteer Regiment.  In this letter to his mother, Sarah Hill Perry, Perry worries that she will be unable to look after the farm after her only other child enlisted., p. 138
Yankee correspondence: Civil War letters between New England soldiers and ... By Nina Silber, Mary Beth Sievens
          Levi G. Perry, corporal, enlisted Oct. 28, 1862 [Company D], p. 46.
===== "4th Main Volunteer Infantry Regiment - Company D" shows Levi G. Perry of Rumford, Maine, to have been in the 4th Maine Infantry, Company D, age 20 when mustered into service June 15, 1861.  Compiled by Bruce Towers, Prospect, CT (1998).  Source: the "Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine for the year ending December 31, 1863".  Also, age 22 when promoted to corporal (presumably) October 28, 1862.


  1. Mr. Mirsky,
    I am the great-great-grand daughter of Chandler Perry, Jr. , Levi Gad Perry's brother. Both brothers fought at Gettysburg. Levi survived in the 4th ME in Devil's Den fighting but Chandler was killed on the second day of the battle with the 19th ME. I have visited the grave at Gettysburg, PA and the Perry family grave in Owl's Head, ME. it is an interesting family story not unlike so many during the Civil War. How do you know that this drum belonged to Levi Perry? He is not listed as a musician in any military record...he was on the line with a rifle. Interested to know what you have discovered. HL Corbett candlone@aol.com

  2. Please ask Mr.Robinson to contact me at candlone@aol.com. I am interested in the drum as I am also a direct descendant of this Perry family. Thank you. HL Corbett

  3. My initial impression is that you are correct that this is a surplus drum modified post-war and sold on the surplus market. In all likelihood, Levi purchased this for use with his GAR Post in ceremonies and parades. I can't say that this is fact, but it seems the most plausible reason for the appearance of both the drum & the sticks.


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