Share This Article

Featured on this Civil War carte-de-visite are members of the 101st Pennsylvania’s drum corps. The photo’s exact date is unknown, but “Whitehall” on the flag behind the boys means it was taken after the Dec. 16, 1862, Battle of Whitehall, North Carolina. Drummer boys played a vital role during the Civil War. Drumbeats governed Civil War soldiers. Over the din of the battlefield, drum calls were used to transmit commands — the long roll, for instance, was the signal to fall in under arms. In camp, drummer boys summoned the regiment to meals, to muster, drill, and sick call. When on the march, drummers kept up a lively cadence to boost men’s morale.

Learn more about drummer boys and see a portfolio of drummer boy images in our story about Civil War drummer boys.

Photo: Courtesy of Mike Medhurst

historynet magazines

Our 9 best-selling history titles feature in-depth storytelling and iconic imagery to engage and inform on the people, the wars, and the events that shaped America and the world.