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
Take you gun
and go, John
can drive the oxen,
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.