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Drumming out

Are you familiar with the historical military practice of drumming a soldier out of the army?

This process of dishonorably discharging a soldier had its origins in the British army in the 17th century and was later picked up by the American military. Soldiers could be drummed out for a variety of reasons, from thievery to desertion. 

Usually, during a drumming out, the guilty man’s head was shaved, the insignia and buttons taken from his uniform, and a sign detailing his crime hung around his neck. Sometimes he was dressed in felon’s clothes or white feathers were placed above his ears, and other times a rope was put around his neck and he would be led by the smallest drummer boy. The convict would then be marched between the lines of his fellow soldiers to the tune of “Rogue’s March,” and he would be taken to the entrance of the camp, where he was sent on his way with orders to never return. 

“Rogue’s March” was often played by drums and fifes, though if they couldn’t be found, a trumpet was sometimes substituted and the process was called being “blown out” of the army. During the Civil War, “Yankee Doodle” was sometimes played instead of “Rogue’s March.” 

The point of drumming out a soldier was to make his departure from the military humiliating enough that others would be discouraged from committing the same crime. So in addition to being drummed out, the local newspaper would sometimes write about the man’s crime to make it public. However, drumming out eventually fell out of favor as a punishment, and by World War II it had largely been dropped altogether in the U.S.

From Fold3

P.O.W’s And The Civil War


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P.O.W’s And The Civil War - Psychological Disorders-PTSD

One of the most intense contributing factors to psychological effects and disorders were the prisoner of war (P.O.W) camps. 

Some of the most detestable incidences in the war occurred inside these camps. Psychologically, people are put in situations with numerous traumas, such as ubiquitous death, fighting and abuse, making P.O.W camps a minefield for psychological disorders. Camps like Salisbury, Libby, Douglas and the most notorious Andersonville were overpopulated and did not have proper supplies for the number of prisoners it contained. At one point, Andersonville detained thirty-two thousand men but the original capacity was for only ten thousand men. When Sherman’s soldiers liberated Andersonville, they found some prisoners completely emaciated. The fight to survive in hellish places like Andersonville, Libby, Salisbury and Douglas was exceedingly stressful. Witnessing the intense trauma of death on a daily basis was more than enough to produce PTSD. -SARAH A. M. FORD Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Photo: Corporal Calvin Bates of Co. E, 20th Maine Infantry, reminds us that not all amputations resulted from bullet wounds. A prisoner at Andersonville, Bates suffered inhumane treatment at the hands of his prison guards. His maltreatment resulted in illness, decay, and ultimately the amputation of his feet.

Morgan's raiders

Voices From The Civil War- First Hand Account Of Morgan’s Raiders-  They were gentlemanly and represented the best manhood of Kentucky and their native states. 

Mr. Johnson, interviewed near his home in Indiana during the 1930s, was a young man during the Civil War. Even so, his memories concerning John Morgan’s cavalry raid through his neighborhood were still fresh in his mind. 

“… The gray figures of Morgan’s men appeared out of the distance. They showed the strain of a hurried and harassed march; both men and beast were weary. Four of the men stopped before me perched on the fence and said, ‘Son take these canteen and fill them with water’. I didn’t refuse but hurried across the road to Mr. Alexander’s Robinson’s well where two or three other boys were drawing water for the Raider’s men with a windlass. The well was wide and only about nine feet deep. As soon as I filled my canteens I passed them among the men and kept returning for more water until the well was dry. After this short period of service we were mustered out; and Morgan, the raider, with his men went their way with their jangling and clanking of arms to disappear in the horizon toward old Paris.”

There were some three thousand soldiers in the Confederate cavalry. They were gentlemanly and represented the best manhood of Kentucky and their native states. Of course in war and in that large a crowd there would be some unpleasant things, but on the whole the men were polite. Whenever they saw a horse they wanted they exchanged their worn out horse for it usually with the suggestion of “Let’s Swap, I think you can plow all right with this horse”. Many of the horses left were really better than the ones taken but were worn out and many had sore backs.

From The CivilWarParlor on Tumblr

The Rebel soldier - what did he look like?


Countless eyewitness descriptions allow us to evoke the popular image of the ragged Rebel

  • Uniforms were in shreds and tatters, described more appropriately as “multiforms”; faces were unshaven, unkempt hair stuck through slouch hats of all shapes and sizes, and the dusty roads only served to cake the soldiers in further filth 
  • Uniforms were ill-fitting; sleeves were too short, trouser legs too long, only adding to their multifarious appearance. 
  • Lee’s men were particularly deficient in shoes, underwear and blankets, and “Their coats were made out of almost anything you could imagine, butternut color predominating.”Their lack of shoes led to scores of footsore soldiers, and in many regiments the barefooted seemed to outnumber those with footwear.  
  • The weight of soldiers had also debilitated; a supposed diet containing large amounts of green corn and apples for subsistence ensured the Rebels became hollow-eyed and sullen-faced. 
  • James Steptoe Johnston, Jr. of the 11th Mississippi wrote that “it had become quite natural for us to starve.” 
  • One unnamed citizen in Frederick, Maryland wrote that “the filth that pervades them is most remarkable… They have no uniforms, but are well armed and equipped.” 
  • One witness said she felt “humiliated at the thought that this horde of ragamuffins could set our grand army of the Union at defiance”, but professed a certain sympathy “for the poor, misguided wretches, for some were limping along so painfully, trying to keep with their comrades.” 
  • Mrs. I.E. Doane was 81 years old when interviewed by workers of the WPA Federal Writer’s Project –These, ragged and half-starved, passed in hordes, raiding their provisions, killing their chickens, hogs and cattle. Although this was hard, Mrs. Cummings did not begrudge food to these soldiers. Mrs. Doane says she well remembers her mother and “Mudder” baking hoecakes in the kitchen for these hungry soldiers, who were so ravenous that they could not wait for the bread to be browned on both sides, but would snatch it from their hands and eat it half-cooked. She recalls seeing her mother dish up sauer-kraut for the soldiers until they had eaten her entire winter’s supply - two barrels.

From wildbillburroughs on Tumblr

Coughs up bullet 58 years later


Photo courtesy of the Kilburn familyFor 58 years, the Civil War-era bullet that took the right eye of Confederate soldier Willis Meadows, left, was lodged near his brain. Fired in 1863 at the siege of Vicksburg by Union soldier Peter Knapp, right, the bullet reappeared in 1921 when Meadows was stricken with a violent coughing spell. The one-time mortal enemies were reunited as friends.

Updated Apr 12, 2012 

Willis Meadows grasped his throat and began to choke.
Whatever was stuck in there wouldn't come out, and with coughing spasms growing violent, the 78-year old couldn't breathe. Just when he thought it was his time to die, something flew from his mouth, bounced on the wooden kitchen table and tumbled to a stop.
Trapped in Meadows' head for nearly 58 years, here was the Civil War bullet, a one-ounce slug that had taken out the Confederate veteran's right eye when he was just a boy.
"Coughs Up Bullet" was a national newspaper story in 1921. Eleven years later, in a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" cartoon, it was published around the world in 42 countries and 17 different languages.
Ripley missed the most unbelievable part of the story. After 58 years, Meadows would meet the Union soldier who shot him.
Read the full story: The Mail Tribune




The  Rebel Army Company was lined up for “dress parade” somewhere in northern Arkansas. The ranks were in perfect alignment; troops were at attention, as the commanding officer, Colonel Preston, inspected the men.

Continue reading "HENRY CLAY THURSTON" »

Spencer Bronson

Spencer Bronson figured the gunshot he heard was part of the play

Since enlisting in Company B of the Wisconsin 7th Infantry, he had heard many gunshots. Bronson fought valiantly throughout the Civil War with the Iron Brigade — he was captured at Gettysburg, wounded in several battles and still carried a bullet in his right hip when he was sent to a hospital to convalesce. That’s how he ended up in Washington, D.C., at the end of the war.

When Bronson read in a newspaper that President Abraham Lincoln, General Ulysses S. Grant and their wives were going to see “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre that evening, April 14, 1865, Bronson bought a ticket and walked three blocks from the hospital to the theater.

In chilling detail Bronson wrote to his sister Amanda Bronson back home in Fall River, Wis., what happened next:

Continue reading "Spencer Bronson" »

POW's journal from Andersonville

Sgt. John Clark Ely of Company C, 115th Ohio Infantry, was captured in Tennessee in late 1864. Following his transfer from Confederate prison camps in Mississippi and Alabama, Ely was imprisoned at infamous Camp Sumter in Georgia. His journal entries are courtesy of Andersonville National Historic Site. (By “scalloway,” Ely probably meant “scalawag.”)

Feb. 18, 1865 (Saturday)
Beautiful morning and day. P.M. some 800 prisoners came in, were the sick left at Meridian, captured of Hood.

Feb. 19, 1865 (Sunday)
Slight frost, fine morning, some rumors of exchange. 9th Division drew cooked rations again.

Feb. 20, 1865 (Monday)
Fine day.

Feb. 21, 1865 (Tuesday)
Lowery in morning, pleasant p.m. Wrote note to Lt. Eadie.

Feb. 22, 1865 (Wednesday)
Washington birthday. How different from where I was a year ago, some scalloway opened our tent at bottom and stole from me one shirt, one pair drawers, one () and haversack with 4 days rations meal.

Feb. 23, 1865 (Thursday)
Slight shower in night, many rumors of exchange in rebel papers yesterday. Drew more cooking vessels p.m. division sergeants sent communication to Capt. Wirtz relative to changing quarters, refused.

Feb. 24, 1865 (Friday)
Rainy night, showery day with some thunder.


Civil war sword returned to soldier killed in battle

HONOLULU —The Pacific Diamond and Swiss Watch Exchange is an unlikely place to find a civil war sword, but shop owner Ted Gonzalez had one. He bought it in 2012 in from an estate dealer.

"I thought it was unusual just because I've never bought one before I decided to buy it and decided to keep it," said Gonzalez.
He didn't know what to do with it until client Paul Perrone noticed the name Lt. Edwin Coe engraved on the weapon. The history buff then found a photo of Lt. Coe.
Coe was a union solder from Worcester, Massachusetts. He served in the 57th Massachusetts Regiment and died on June 16, 1864, leading a charge during the Battle of Petersburg.
Documents show he was only 19.

Chinese Yankee

Chineese Yankee

Ruthanne Lum McCunn, chronicles Thomas Sylvanus' story in her latest book, “Chinese Yankee

Born in Hong Kong as Aw Yee Way, Sylvanus was orphaned and lived in the care of an American woman who decided to bring him to the United States to be educated at age eight. She was in poor health and turned the child over to Dr. Sylvanus Mills, who was on board the same ship. 

Rather than being educated, Sylvanus was kept as a slave. When the Civil War broke out, he was 15. While in Baltimore running errands, he escaped and lied about his age so he could enlist in the 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. 

In “Chinese Yankee,” McCunn tells of the boredom and the battles Sylvanus saw while also describing the conditions and disease that blinded him. He was sent to a hospital to recover and eventually regained some of his sight, but his vision varied from poor to non-existent for the rest of his life. 

In spite of being almost blind and having been discharged with a disability, Sylvanus reenlisted twice. He served with the 51st Regiment, cleaning up after the battle of Gettysburg, then enlisted in the 42nd New York Infantry as a paid substitute for George Dearborn, who was buying his way out of the draft. In both cases, Sylvanus managed to hide the fact that his vision was so limited.

Read the full article by Jeanette Wolff: