AC2015-41 – Bass Drum

The Rhythm of War 

Drums were everywhere in Civil War armies. They literally set the rhythm of military life, most obviously on the march, but also alongside field musicians issuing orders in camp and combat. In addition, drums were a key component of the numerous regimental bands, which played popular tunes to entertain soldiers in camp and motivate them in the field. 

This bass drum and hammer from Company A of the 55th Illinois Regiment probably served both roles as the unit made its way through the Battle of Shiloh, the Vicksburg Campaign, and Sherman’s March to the Sea. When combined with the drummers from the rest of the regiment, it would have constituted the 55th’s “Drum Corps,” which surely created a thunderous, inescapable noise. Perhaps that’s why some members of the regiment later referred to their corps as “irrepressible.”

Gift of John W. Hamann, 2015

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