Why I Wrote The Drummer's Call

     Second to geography, history was my least favorite subject in school.  I had no interest in memorizing names of historical events, important dates, or significant people.  Instead, I was plagued with curiosity about the daily lives of the everyday individuals who lived during these events.  What did they eat?  What did they wear?  How did they spend their days?   How did they brush their teeth (or did they)?  To my disappointment, little or no time was spent discussing what I thought was most important. 

     As a parent, I am very familiar with the daily lives of teenagers.  Most simply cannot imagine life without the internet, television, cell phones, electricity, running water or advanced modes of travel. However, except for the last two centuries, mankind has managed to survive without these conveniences.   I thought it would be interesting to write a story about a typical teenager living in the present who is thrown into the past and forced to learn to survive.  My dilemma was to figure out where in history my character should end up.  

     It was through my interest in genealogy that I found my answer. While working on my family tree, I discovered that two of my great-great-great-grand-uncles, James and Adrastus Tolle, had been Union soldiers during the Civil War.  They were enlisted with the 21st  KY Infantry and fought at the Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro, TN.  I also learned from a family member that my great-great-grand-uncle, Joseph Haas, was a Civil War Union drummer.  Rumor has it he met both President Lincoln and General Grant, and received 850 acres in land grants that were signed by President Lincoln himself.   Armed with this knowledge about my family, I decided that my character would become a Civil War drummer who participates in the Battle of Stones River.  After the book was written, I also discovered one more interesting fact:  my daughter’s great-great-great-great paternal grandfather was fighting with the Confederates on the opposite side of Stones River.  

     When I began writing The Drummer’s Call, I knew little or nothing about the Civil War or the daily lives of drummers or soldiers.  Hundreds of hours of research later, I have nothing but the utmost admiration for these individuals.  They endured months, if not years, of hardship in the form of bloody battles, famine, illness, horrible injuries or death.   

     I also discovered during my research that there were many differing accounts of the daily lives of drummers.  One source even stated that very little was written at the time about the drummers, so it was difficult to know for sure what exactly they did all day.  I was lucky enough to find a few journals written by drummer boys.   Based upon the research I have conducted, I stand by my account of the daily drum schedules and duties detailed in The Drummer’s Call. 

     I hope that you enjoy reading The Drummer’s Call as much as I enjoyed writing it. 


Research sources:


Civil War, Eyewitness Books by John Stanchack

Civil War Slang, Civil War Preservation Trust

Drum Taps in Dixie: Memories of a Drummer Boy by Delavan S. Miller

Drummer Boy: The Civil War Diary of Edwin Hale Lincoln by Karl Marty & Lee C. Drickamer

Everyday Life in the 1800s by Marc McCutcheon

Everyday Life: The Civil War by Walter A. Hazen

Guide to Civil War Nashville by Mark Zimmerman

Kentucky: A History of the State by W. H. Perrin, J.H. Battle & G.C. Kniffin

Nashville Then and Now by Karina McDaniel

The Drummers’ and Fifers’ Guide by George B. Bruce & Dan D. Emmett

The Battle of Stones River; No Better Place to Die by Peter Cozzens

The Recollections of a Drummer Boy by Harry M. Keiffer

Winter Lightning, A Guide to the Battle of Stones River by Matt Spruill & Lee Spruill


Web Pages

A Drummer Boy’s Diary  http://archive.org/details/drummerboysdiary00birc


Bands Battled on Eve of Stones River Clash http://www.murfreesboropost.com/bands-battled-on-eve-of-stones-river-clash-cms-1506

Breckinridge's Charge - Stones River National Battlefield  http://www.nps.gov/stri/historyculture/breckinridge.htm


Caring for the Men: The History of Civil War Medicine http://civilwarhome.com/civilwarmedicineintro.htm


Civil War http://www.civilwar.com/


Civil War Drummer, R.C. Murphy http://www.wildcatband.com/ropedrums.html


Civil War Fife and Drum Page: Schedule of Calls http://reocities.com/cwfifedrum/schedule.html


Daily Life of a Drummer Boy http://www.theyoungcampaigner.com/2007/11/daily-life-of-a.html


First New Mexico Field Music Tactics, Dave Poulin http://www.1stnmvi.com/first_new_mexico_field_music.html


Life of a Civil War Soldier, John Heiser http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/soldierlife/cwarm.htm


National Park Service – The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/template.cfm


New York TimesFrom Nashville to Louisville; The New Bridge over the Cumberland-A Region of Deselation-How Morgan Escapes-By the Way-The Real Sentiments of the South http://www.nytimes.com/1862/12/15/news/nashville-loiusville-new-bridge-over-cumberland-region-deselation-morgan-escapes.html


No Way to Celebrate Christmas 1862 http://www.murfreesboropost.com/no-way-to-celebrate-christmas-1862-cms-1545


Old Pictures – Civil War http://www.old-picture.com/


Questia - More Work Than Play: Insights From the Letters of J. Herbert George, Civil War Musician, James A. Davis http://www.questia.com/reader/action/zoomin


Questia – Private Flemming at Chancellorsville http://www.questia.com/reader/action/gotoDocId/113703762


Questia - The Reluctant Witness: Children’s Voices From the Civil War, Emmy E. Werner http://www.questia.com/reader/action/gotoDocId/8920256


Shades of Gray and Blue http://www.civilwarshades.org/map-of-tennessee-with-its-roads


Stones River http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/stones-river.html

 Stones River Campaign http://americancivilwar.com/statepic/tn/tn010.html


Stones River National Battlefield: The Union Approach www.nps.gov/stri/historyculture/unionapproach.htm


The Soldiers and the Battle of Stones River http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/40stones/40facts1.htm


Stones River Campaign:  The Stone River campaign--1862-63. Organization of the Fourteenth Army Corps (1883) http://archive.org/details/stonerivercampai00unit


Tennessee Civil War Highlights in 186 http://nashville.about.com/od/historyandsites/Nashville_History_and_Historical_Sites.htm


Vermont in the Civil War:  Research Aids – Military Terminology http://vermontcivilwar.org/research/def.php



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