Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Drum Reveille

A reader asks:

I am researching Jordan B. Noble, the famous New Orleans drummer boy at the Battle of New Orleans and in subsequent wars and battles.

He is said to have played a drum reveille. Was that a standard drum call routine? Are there recordings of how it might have been played.  Did the drum reveille remain constant over the years in the 19th century or did the style of playing it change.

Was there a drum charge or was that reserved for brass instruments?

Were drummer boys given immunity from being shot at? It seems they might have been targets since there drumm tattoos inspired and coordinated the soldiers.

Thank you for any help you can give me.

Please post answers by way of comments to this blog post.


  1. The "regulation" reveille circa 1860 consisted of a sequence of tunes: Three Camps, Slow Scotch, Austrian, Hessian, Dutch, Quick Scotch. Type "Henke" in the top left search bar of this blog to find the fife parts. The drum parts can be found in George Klinehanse's The Manual of Instruction For Drummers... prepared under the direction of the adjutant General of the United States Army, approved of by the commander-in-Chief And Adopted For The Use Of The Army Of The United States, 1853. Several drum and fife manuals were also published during the war, none of them were officially recognized by the army. After the war, Gardiner Strube's 1869 Drum and Fife Instructor was adopted as the standard drum manual. It was long believed that Bruce and Emmett's 1862 Drummers' and Fifers' Guide was the official manual during the war. The only evidence of this was a bogus claim by Bruce that he was principal instructor at Governor's Island when in reality these positions were held by Charles Henke and Michael Moore for decades prior to and during the war.

  2. Anonymous April 8, 2014 at 9:36 PM

    Forgot to sign my name. Recorded versions of tunes mentioned above are available from the Liberty Hall Drum and Fife Corps (email We recorded the drum and fife parts from Klinehanse, with the exception of the Dutch drumbeat, which came from Keach, Burditt, and Cassidy's 1861 manual.

    Regarding what drummer boys did during battle, good references are Drum Taps in Dixie by Delavan Miller and A Little Fifer's War Diary by Charles Bardeen.



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