Thursday, September 25, 2008

ROBERT HENDERSHOT, Boy Drummer



CDV PHOTOGRAPH DRUMMER BOY ROBERT HENDERSHOT CA 1860S. War fever had gripped Jackson after the fall of Fort Sumter and like many others, Hendershot longed for the glory of battle. His widowed mother may also have hoped that military life might instill some discipline in her delinquent son. He was a frequent runaway, and his aversion to school was such that he could not even sign his own name. He claimed to be ten that summer of 1861, but like many aspects of his life, that is in dispute, as various documents give birthdates ranging from early 1846 to 1851, and no less than four different birthplaces, from Michigan to New York City. When he enlisted, Hendershot was a slight-framed boy, 4½ feet tall, with fair hair, hazel eyes and a ruddy complexion. He bore a deep scar under his right eye that he would submit as his first badge of courage. He soon dropped his implausible claim to have received that scar as the result of a severe wound at Shiloh (at the time his regiment had been camped more than 600 miles away). By the end of 1862, though, events at Fredericksburg would give him another, more believable, opportunity for fame. In the fall of 1861, Hendershot was a fixture in the camp of the Jackson County Rifles. There, he incessantly practiced his drum calls, an activity that caused at least one recruit to call him "a perfect little pest." He apparently accompanied the Rifles to Fort Wayne, outside Detroit, where the unit became Company "C" of the 9th Michigan Infantry. Robert claimed to have enlisted along with the others, but said that the mustering officer rejected him because of extreme youth. In any case, he boarded the train that carried the regiment south, either as a stowaway or as a servant to Captain Charles V. DeLand, the commander of Company "C" and editor of Jackson's American Citizen. Robert formally enlisted in the 9th in March 1862, when the regiment moved from Kentucky to Murfreesboro, Tenn. He remained with Company "C", which was posted at the Murfreesboro courthouse as provost guards. He was there on July 13 when Confederate Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest launched a pre-dawn raid on the town. During the battle, Robert claimed that he fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire, a claim later substantiated by several 9th Michigan soldiers. This exquisite albumen CDV of the Hendershot "Drummer Boy" was photographed by Brady of New York and Washington D. C.

Condition: Very fine, fantastic contrast.


Sold: $1,912.00, Nashville, TN on Saturday, December 1, 2007

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Brady Carte de Visite of "Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock" Robert Hendershot. When the Civil War broke out, young Robert Henry Hendershot was determined to join the fight. Although his true age is in question, he was probably about twelve when, in the fall of 1861, a company from Hendershot's town left the state and headed to the front with Hendershot tagging along behind. The officers repeatedly sent him home, but he was undaunted. Hendershot eventually joined Company B, 9th Michigan Infantry. In a skirmish at Murfreesboro, Tenn., he was captured and sent to Camp Chase, Ohio, to await exchange, but slipped away and re-enlisted in the 8th Michigan Infantry on Aug. 19, 1862, just in time for the Battle of Fredericksburg. There he went house to house, helping to rout Confederates. In one house he encountered a Rebel with a shotgun, but Hendershot was able to force the man's surrender. He then personally escorted his prisoner to the Lacy House (Chatham), where he presented him to Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Hendershot remained at the front and was slightly wounded two days later in the Union attacks on Marye's Heights. As a result, he was discharged on Dec. 27, and his fame spread across the country. When he reached Washington, he was hailed as a hero, dining with President Lincoln and appearing as a guest at both houses of Congress. Later, when visiting New York, Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune presented Hendershot with a beautiful new drum. Capitalizing on the boy's popularity, showman Phineas T. Barnham engaged Hendershot to play his drum at Barnham's museum. In the years following the Civil War, a poem and a play were written about Hendershot, extolling his courage as the "Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock." This exceptional full-length image features Hendershot in full uniform, leaning on the fancy drum given him by Horace Greeley, and holding a large flag. Minor wear. Fine condition. An excellent addition to any Civil War collection!

Sold: $1,553.50

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