Responsible for drowning out vital battle commands and communications signals, they were exposed to danger from the start of the fight to its end. And when the battle was over, drummer boys were also relied on to guard the field, help carry the wounded to the hospital tents, and bury the slain.
Drummers were an integral part of military bands during the Civil War for obvious reasons: the time they kept was important to regulate the marching of soldiers on parades.
Among the many legends of the Civil War is the story of the “Drummer Boy of Shiloh”, a young lad who threw away his drum in favor of a musket. However, the moving story is overshadowed by conflicting evidence. According to legend, a young drummer in Shiloh snatched a musket in the heat of battle.
In the story “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by R. Bradbury, the author presented the story from the third person perspective. He uses symbolism with Joby (who just turned fourteen), the drum and the rhythm of the drum.
Drummer boys (and adults) worked on the battlefield in the middle of a battle. They carried no weapons and no protection. The drummer’s job was to pass on orders from the commander to the troops. There were no walkie-talkies or telephones during the Revolutionary War.
Company buglers served as messengers, surgical assistants, and on ambulance crews. They also performed fatigue services such as hauling timber, feeding horses, and picket and guard duty. Many of the buglers carried rifles and fought with other members of their company. But their main task was the music.
The average age for a drummer boy in the Civil War was about 18, and by 1864 the Union Army had banned the recruitment of boys under the age of 16, but many still joined to do their part play and become a soldier one day.
The General says to Joby, “You are the heart of the army,” emphasizing his vital role in setting the pace of battle with his drum, so that men fight with strong will and set the tone indicate the war. “If he, Joby, would beat slowly tomorrow, men’s hearts would beat slowly.”
Military drummers have played a crucial role in warfare throughout history. Soldiers marched into battle to the sound of drums and used the beat to regulate the loading and reloading of their weapons during battle. Drummers were also used to boost morale during battle.
Another example of symbolism in The Drummer Boy of Shiloh is when the main character Joby started counting the men who were sleeping on the floor. (In lines 14-19) If Joby can’t continue counting, this could symbolize how many people died in the actual Battle of Shiloh.
How did Joby join the army? What’s significant about it? He ran away from home and joined. This makes him aware of his young age and isolates him from the rest of the army.
The general has an encouraging attitude towards Joby. He reassures Joby and inspires him to do well in his duty as a drummer boy as he is essential to the army. He motivates Joby.
The falling of the peach blossoms takes place towards the end of spring and symbolizes the loss of youth and innocence associated with the struggle that follows. They add to the overall sad mood of the story.
The US Army retained drummers and fifers with the infantry until 1917 they were finally phased out of the field.
In the past, trumpets, drums, cymbals, bagpipes, and other loud musical instruments were used for clear communication in the noise and confusion of a battlefield. They can easily be carried while the instrumentalist is on the move, i. H. marches.
The frequency of the drum in each regimental company meant their music touched the ears of most Civil War soldiers. In battle, drums were used to inspire soldiers and to convey commands and instructions to troops.