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Civil War Round Table of Arkansas

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Our 42nd Year 

Meets Fourth Tuesday, January-November

Founded March 1964 
Fletcher Branch Library, H & Buchanan
(East of University Ave.), 

Little Rock 
Program at 7 p.m. 
VOL. XLII, No. 8,
Jan Sarna, President  /  Charles O. Durnett, Editor, 
Dues $15 Per Year





Don Nall


With the outbreak of the Civil War, men from all over the country answered the “call to arms” and joined the army. At the beginning, there were no age restrictions for enlistees, drummer boys, or cavalry buglers.  Men of all ages, both north and south, enlisted amidst a fanfare of patriotic enthusiasm. Believing that they should rush to enlist because “this war will be over in a few weeks”, the war began as an adventure, but as the music chronicled became sadder as it turned from weeks into years.

<>Emotions ran so high that everyone was caught up in the rush to enlist. Younger boys were no exceptions, eager to embark on this grand adventure, many signed up to be drummer boys.

Experiencing hardships just like regular soldiers, these youngsters served proudly throughout the war. With the courage beyond their years, the drummer boys faced the horrors of war. Moreover, they performed their duties with honor.


Boys as young as ten years old slipped into to the army claiming to be 18 year of age. Some enlisted with the blessing of their parents and others simply ran away.  Boys who were younger than 16 could be accepted as musicians and an average wartime regiment had 20 musicians.


Despite the horrors of war, or perhaps because of them, songs and music became an important part of the men’s daily lives. A ditty that was sung in many a farmhouse went:

Take you gun and go, John
Take your gun and go.
For Ruth can drive the oxen,
And I can use the hoe.

In camp buglers and drummer, boys provided entertainment for the men who endured so much on the front lines. Songs and music were an important part of war. Men often sang in small groups around the campfire. A popular song would spread quickly along the battle lines.

Confederate and Union troops would occasionally engage in a musical duel. A musical contest took place at the Battle of Dinwiddie Court House in Virginia in March of 1865. The singing of “Yankee Doodle” was met with an equally fervent rendition of “Dixie”; “Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue” and the southern ballad “The Bonnie Blue Flag” echoed off the rolling hills.