Monday, December 30, 2013

Henry B. Savage & Sons Drum

Blond field snare drum measuring 14-3/4 in. (diam.) by 12 in. (height) made by/for Henry B. Savage & Sons, Musical Instruments, 166 Hanover Street, Boston, Mass.  Both heads are intact.  Consumables (leathers, snares, ropes, etc. and possibly the head), would need to be replaced to make it a player but it's a looker right now.

Drum sling (leather needs repair) looks very much like the around-the-neck style of the Civil War.  Rope is definitely not original.  Hooks are unique.  Snare strainer appears to be original.  Whoever re-roped this drum last placed the leathers (ears, tugs) upside down.

Snares are red linen wire-wound, not gut, believed to be ca. 1920 (see

From the collection of Ellis R. Mirsky.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

U.S. Military Academy "Hellcats" at the 2012 USARD Convention

U.S. Military Academy "Hellcats" at the 2012 USARD Convention 

Published to YouTube on Apr 26, 2012 byJoseph Gillotti at the U.S.A.R.D. convention, 2012.

The U.S Army "Old Guard" at USARD 2012

The U.S Army "Old Guard" at USARD 2012

Published to YouTube on Apr 27, 2012 byJoseph Gillotti at the U.S.A.R.D. convention, 2012.

Jim Smith at the 2012 U.S.A.R.D. Convention - Historical Sound of the Snare Drum

Jim Smith at the 2012 U.S.A.R.D. Convention - Historical Sound of the Snare Drum

Jim Smith explains the sound of the field drum as might have been heard in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Published to YouTube on Apr 25, 2012 byJoseph Gillotti at the U.S.A.R.D. convention, 2012.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

WWII Classics: Drums without Metal

WWII Classics: Drums without Metal

See article by Chet Falzerano online at (originally published in the February/March 2000 issue of DRUM! magazine).

 Credit: NMM 3011.  Parade drum by WFL Drum Co., Chicago, ca. 1942. Views of the mahogany shell, the metal screw strainer in a wood brace, and the drum's patented Strupe internal tension. This drum model was developed when restrictions on the use of metal in the manufacture of musical instruments were created at the beginning of World War II. Drum manufacturers were forbidden to build instruments with more than 10% of the total mass of the instrument being made with metal. The implementation of this unique wood tensioning device allowed the WFL Drum Company to stay within that narrow limit. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Historic Collectible: Civil War Drums

Historic Collectible: Civil War Drums

See article by Chet Falzerano online at (Originally published in the March/April 2000 issue of DRUM! magazine).

Credit: 1862 Wm. S. Tompkins field snare drum, no. 22, from collection of Ellis R. Mirsky.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Civil War Eagle Snare Drum of the 78th New York Infantry, 1st Regiment Eagle Brigade, Cameron Highlanders

Heritage Auctions, Lot 57739, December 2009 Signature Arms & Militaria Including Civil War Auction #6021:

Civil War Eagle Snare Drum of the 78th New York Infantry, 1st Regiment Eagle Brigade, Cameron Highlanders. The regiment left for the "seat of war" in April 1862, and was engaged at Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and, later, through heavy fighting in Georgia, being consolidated with the 112th New York in July 1864. The drum is 10" high with a 17" diameter, doubtless being slightly shortened during the period of use, which is not uncommon with the diminutive size of many drummers. Both heads intact, retaining most of the original rope, now broken, and one of the original tighteners, only remnants of the label remain. Brass tack decoration around the air hole, classic painted eagle decoration with the number 78 deeply carved preceding Reg. Original red painted hoops. The drum is in as found/ untouched condition, having surfaced a number of years ago with other artifacts related to this and other New York state regiments. The drum retains about 80% of the original paint decoration, with no imminent signs of further deterioration. Hoops retain 95% of the original red paint with demonstrable wear from the ropes. The drum is accompanied by the original fine condition sticks, with artificially grained decoration, the first example we've seen and the original cloth storage bag, black cotton with gray silk lining, a few holes, but very good and sound.  Sold for $4,310.37.

11-Star J.&G. Dennison (Freeport) Eagle Drum

Heritage Auction, Lot 52023, Dec. 7, 2013 Auction, Dallas, Texas: 

11-Star Eagle Motif U.S. Pre-Civil War or Civil War Drum. Professionally cleaned with some repaint, as well as replaced ears, ropes and heads. The Eagle with his wings spread,shows great detail. Paper label reads Drums & Fifes made & Sold by J& G Dennison Freeport. Nice grommet design around air hole. Size: 17" in diameter and 15 1/4" tall. Estimate: $2,800 - up.

Civil War Contract Eagle Drum by Vogt

Heritage Auction, Lot 52024, Dec. 7, 2013 Auction, Dallas, Texas:

Civil War U.S. Regulation Eagle Snare Drum 16 1/2" diameter, 15 1/2" high including hoops. The drum retains about 95% of the original painted decoration with losses to the edges only, absolutely untouched with wonderful mellow age patina. Brass tack design around the air hole perfect. Retains the original interior paper label from "Ernest Vogt / Manufacturer of / Drums, Banjos, Tamborines / No 225 Beaver Street / Philadelphia / Contract Dec 29 1864". Both heads, ropes and leather tightners are correct restorations. A beautiful example of a regulation Civil War drum. Estimate: $4,500 - up. Source:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Admiral Edward Boscawen and a Drumming Tradition

Admiral Edward Boscawen and a Drumming Tradition

Edward Boscawen by Sir Joshua Reynolds, ca. 1755

Admiral Edward Boscawen,(1711-61) joined the  British Navy at the age of 12 years and remained in its service for the rest of his life. Though he died young, he achieved one of the great careers in British naval history. One example of his success came as commander of the British Blue fleet during the investment of Fortress Louisburg, July,1758, thus providing a staging area for Gen. James Wolfe’s campaign against  Québec City. Boscawen was nicknamed “Wry-necked Dick” due to a habit of cocking his head to one side, as captured by Reynolds in his portrait above.
During the French West Indies campaign, Boscawen took part in capturing the island of Guadaloupe. Lasting from January to May of 1759, the battle resulted in the British wresting Guadaloupe from the French.  In the first Treaty of Paris (1763) France regained the West Indies by relinquishing its claims to Canada.
In his book, As If An Enemy’s Country, Richard Archer wrote: After the conquest of the island of Guadaloupe during the Seven Year War, Admiral Edward Boscawen procured 8 or 10 boys whom he gave to his brother, at the time the commanding officer of the 29th regiment. Boscawen thought the boys would be attractive and exotic ornaments and made them drummers, starting a tradition that continued until 1843. [1.]
Were these Afro-Caribbean boys the genesis of exotically clad Negro or Blackamoor drummers in Britain’s military bands?  After a conversation about Boscawen a scholar friend, David Waterhouse did some research and sent me the following report:
Blackamoor first appears in Lord Berners’s translation of Froissart (1525), referring to two blacke Moores richely apparelled: so already there was the tendency to dress them up.

British Band in St. James courtyard. ca. 1790.
Meanwhile, I think I have tracked down the immediate source of your story about Admiral Boscawen. Hugh Barty-King, in his The Drum (London: The Royal Tournament, 1988), p. 57, says:
“But the man who brought a spate of black drummer appointments in the British army was a naval man, Admiral Boscawen. Being in the Caribbean at the surrender of Guadeloupe in 1759, he cornered ten West Indian boys and brought them home in his ship. Once in England he presented them to his soldier brother who commanded Thomas Farrington’s Regiment, the 29th Foot (late The 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment). Permission was obtained from King George III to retain them as drummers, the last of the line dying in July 1843. From then on it became The Thing to have black drummers in British military bands and dress them more and more fancifully…
There is more, both before and after this passage: Barty-King refers to Moorish drummers in the 4th Dragoons as early as 1715.
David sent me the lenghty entry on Adm. Edward Bascawen from the Dictionary of National Biography, published by Oxford University Press in 60 volumes in 2004. There is no mention of him being associated with negro, black or Blackamoor drummers.
“Stories containing incorrect information persist. They are repeated over and over. I don’t know Hugh Barty-King. What was his primary source? You must go back to the primary source.” David Waterhouse
And so gentle reader, until  a primary source is found, we must take the Boscawen story as written by Archer and his probable source Hugh Barty-King, with a grain of salt.
True or not, I believe all the accounts above about Blackamoor and black drummers had to do with Snare Drummers only. Boscawen’s battle for Guadaloupe predated the famous print of a British Band in St. James courtyard by perhaps thirty years and by nine years the disembarkment of the 29th Regiment at Boston. Therfore my next question is, when and by whose order did British bandsmen begin playing Bass drums, Cymbals, Triangles,Tambourines,Tenor drums and the Jingling Johnny? This instrumental component was referred to as the Janissary by British band musicians. [2.] Surely, they were meant not for combat, but for Pomp and Circumstance only.  A Janissary was not with the 29th Regiment in Boston,[3.] as it certainly would have created a sensation and been reported.
Post script:
The Court-marshal and execution of Adm. John Byng (1704-57) was a very controversial and dark affair in British military history. Adm. Boscawen, a strict traditionalist, signed both orders in 1757. Notables including The First Lord of Chatham, William Pitt (1708-80), came to Byng’s defense, but George III refused to repeal the judgement.  Byng knelt on a pillow and instructed the guardsmen to fire when he dropped his handkerchief.
The shooting of Admiral Byng.
The shooting of Admiral Byng.
[1.]  See Archer, Richard under Sources.
[2.] The Janissary, meaning New Soldier, was formed in Turkey by an Ottoman sultan sometime during the late 12th century and disbanded by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826. Young men and boys were kidnapped or otherwise recruited from countries outsideTurkey and trained for duty as bodyguards for the sultan. The Janissary and their music were encountered by the west during European crusades which began in 1096. After their defeat at the second battle of Vienna in 1683, Turkish music instruments were collected from the field of battle by European soldiers. As a sign of respect, Suleiman I sent the Polish hero, Jan Sobieski now King John III, whose cavalry threw back the last Ottoman attack, a troop of Janissaries and its musicians. Not much time passed before composers such as Gluck, Haydn and Mozart made use of the new and exotic Janissary sounds.
[3,.] This was the British occupation referred to in the title of Archer’s book. The Bostonians considered themselves British citizens loyal to the King and were not amenable to being occupied by soldiers. As Archer said: The presence of a standing army was alarming enough to the citizens of Boston, but having armed Irishmen and  Afro-Caribbeans in their midst was a nightmare.
a.) Anderson, Fred: The War That Made America: A Short  History of the French and Indian War: Viking  and The War That Made America Llc and French and Indian War 250 Inc. 2005.
b.) Archer, Richard: As If An Enemy’s Country, The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution, Oxford University Press, 2010.
c.) Fisccher, David Hackett: Washington’s Crossing: David Hackett Fischer, 2004 and Recorded Books, 2004.
d.) Philbrick, Nathanial: Bunker Hill, A City, A Siege, A Revolution: Penguin Audio Books.
e.) Tourtellot, Authur Bernon: William Diamond’s Drum, Doubleday and Company Inc, 1959.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Possible Bass Drum with Right-facing Walking Eagle, Pre-Civil War

Unfortunately, at this time, we have no information about this drum.  It's slated to be offered at auction by Americana Auctions in January 2014.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Possible Gideon G. Owens drum (94th OVI) by Wm. S. Tompkins

Possible Gideon G. Owens drum (94th OVI) by Wm. S. Tompkins

Information from eBay Auction:

17 1/2" diameter by 15" height, eBay item no. 290999686135.  Offered for sale by "GreeneSgt" for a starting bid of $9,999.00 and a BIN price of $13,250.00.

This drum has a beautiful patriotic scene with US flags, a man writing at a desk and scrolls.

Star enlays of different woods. Maker: W.S. TOMPKINS, YONKERS NY

Drum head has Co.C 94th Regt. OVI on the drum head along with some of these battles:

Yates' Ford, Kentucky River, August 30-September 3. Yates' Ford August 31. Tate's Ferry, Kentucky River, September 1. Retreat to Louisville, Ky., September 2–3. Pursuit of Bragg into Kentucky October 1–15, 1862.

Battle of Perryville, Ky., October 8. March to Nashville, Tenn., October 16-November 7, and duty there until December 26.

Advance on Murfreesboro December 26–30.

Battle of Stones River December 30–31, 1862 and January 1–3, 1863. Duty at Murfreesboro until June. Tullahoma Campaign June 23-July 7. Hoover's Gap June 24–26. Occupation of middle Tennessee until August 16. Passage of the Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River, and Chickamauga Campaign August 16-September 22. Davis Cross Roads or Dug Gap September 11. 

Battle of Chickamauga September 19–21. Rossville Gap September 21. Siege of Chattanooga, Tenn., September 24-November 23.

Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign November 23–27. Lookout Mountain November 24–25. Missionary Ridge November 25. Pea Vine Valley and Graysville November 26. Ringgold Gap, Taylor's Ridge, November 27.

Demonstrations on Dalton, Ga., February 22–27, 1864. Tunnel Hill, Buzzard's Roost Gap and Rocky Faced Ridge February 23–25. Atlanta Campaign May 1-September 8.

Demonstrations on Rocky Faced Ridge May 8–11. Buzzard's Roost Gap May 8–9. Battle of Resaca May 14–15. Advance on Dallas May 18–25. Operations on line of Pumpkin Vine Creek and battles about Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 25-June 5. Pickett's Mills May 27. 

Operations about Marietta and against Kennesaw Mountain June 10-July 2. Pine Hill June 11–14. Lost Mountain June 15–17. Assault on Kennesaw June 27. Ruff's Station, Smyrna Camp Ground, July 4. 

Chattahoochie River May 5–17.

Buckhead, Nancy's Creek, July 18. Peachtree Creek July 19–20. Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25. Utoy Creek August 5–7. Flank movement on Jonesboro August 25–30. Near Red Oak August 29. Battle of Jonesboro August 31-September 1.

Operations against Hood in northern Georgia and northern Alabama September 29-November 3. March to the sea November 15-December 10. Siege of Savannah December 10–21. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April 1865. Near Rocky Mount, S.C., February 28.

Taylor's Hole Creek, Averysboro, N.C., March 16. Battle of Bentonville March 19–21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 24.

Advance on Raleigh April 10–14. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20.

Grand Review May 24.


(Thank you GunBroker for

And these photos answer some questions.  First, the plaque simply identifies the maker (but at least it does that) as Wm. S. Tompkins.  Also, the inlaid details are characteristic of a Tompkins drum.  I'm not sure about the pulls or the metal snare mechanism.  Just insufficient information for me to form an opinion.

P.R. Winn, Drummaker

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