Note from Matt Alling, Author: I know that it has been
several weeks since my last post but I couldn’t decide which drum to write about next. The problem with a drummer/drum
historian cataloging an entire museum's drum collection, and writing about it while
doing so, is that every drum is potentially the next story.
I have been debating
for weeks about which of several drums to write about and it came down to which
drum revealed the most complete story first. This drum was the winner and I
hope is one that will encourage many of you to make the trip to the Museum of Fifers and Drummers in Ivoryton, Connecticut to see
the collection in person.
CFD - A Civil War Surprise
by Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion
203-228-0488 - Phone
MFD Drum #14 (Company
collection number, not label number) had been
listed simply as “Brown Drum” with no additional information
other than it had been played by "Alex Smith". The
drum measures 16.5” x 14.5” and is actually a B.E.&M. Brown drum dated
1822, Bloomfield Connecticut. The drum has a nice early Brown tack pattern on
it that I have seen previously on several B.E.&M. Brown Drums.
On taking the drum
down from the shelf for inspection and cataloging I found a list of names signed
on the top head of the drum:
Zack Lemoor (?)
Walter H. Greaszy (?)
And about 6 other names
that I can’t decipher.
Flipping the drum over, there is
writing all over the bottom head and a tremendous history and some writing that
I never expected. Right near the snare
bed the following writing appears:
B. 27 Reg C.V.
23 – 1862 (?) July 27 1863
a roster for the 27th Regiment, an infantry division based out of
New Haven Connecticut. William Bunnell was a private in the regiment and the
regiment appears to have been active for only 9 months.
should note that while William Bunnell is listed as a private, he is not listed as one of the musicians. The
one issue I have with the information that I found on the drum is that on military archive
and genealogy sites the unit is listed as being formed in October 1862, but
the writing on the drum indicates August.
Service includes defense of
Washington D.C. until November 1862, advance to Falmouth, Virginia, November 7-19,
Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 12-15, “Mud March” January 20-24, 1863, at Falmouth Until April 27th,
Chancellorsville Campaign April 27- May 6, Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5,
Gettysburg Pennsylvania, Campaign June 11- July 24, Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3 and
mustered out on July 27, 1863. During this time the regiment lost 4 officers
and 42 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded in combat, and 22 men lost to disease.
addition to that information, there is a lot of additional writing on the
bottom head that helps add to the provenance of the drum, including
a history of the drum with the Bunnell family and beyond:
drum was used by Russell Bunnell of Seymour and later New Haven Conn. Also used
by his son Frank S. Bunnell of New Haven Conn. Used by Bunnell Drum Corps Later
and by Louis Bunnell of Oneita NY.”
Eventually the drum ended up in the
hands of Alex Smith who played with Chester Drum Corps and was then sold, as
noted on the bottom of the drum:
drum was bought from the collection of Alex Smith of North Haven, Conn. 1958 by
Bruce Shepard West Haven, Conn.”
drum is now on permanent loan by Bruce Shepard to the museum, where it will continue
to be displayed for as long as the museum exists. To say that I was surprised
to find this information right on the head and no information in the archives
would be an understatement. The drum will be taking its place as a true
centerpiece in the collection going forward.
Note: For more information about this and
all of the drums in the collection, please visit or contact the Museum of the Company of Fifers and Drummers. Please
remember to support the museum and make a donation when you visit or through
the site by becoming a member of the company.
By Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion
203-228-0488 - Phone