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" Ne'er waved beneath the golden sun, 

A lovelier banner for the brave, 
Than that our bleeding fathers won, 

And proudly to their children gave; 
Nor earth a fairer gem can bring, 

Or Freedom claim a brighter scroll, 
Than that to which our free hearts cling — 

The flag which lights the freeman's soul." 










Entered according to Act of Congess, in the year 1866, 


In the Clerli'B Office of tlie District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 

Chubob, OooDiuM Aim Donnbllbt, Pbintebs. 


The object of writing this narrative is two-fold: First, to pre- 
serve, in the annals of our country, the record of a brave boy's 
deeds — a record so illustrious for one so young, that his name 
has long since been trumpeted to an enduring fame ; and, 
secondly, to afford those desirous of procuring such a record, an 
opportunity. And here I may say, that I have aimed to present 
facts as they are, clothed simply in language that may make 
those facts interesting to the reader. I have not sought to 
embellish, or overdraw. And while guarding against mere 
superficial statements, unsupported by accurate information, I 
have also endeavored to deal with my subject fairly and impar- 
tially ; presenting, it is true,, in bold relief, the nobler elements 
in his nature, and yet not concealing those habits and actions, 
which, by contrast, make the picture more perfect. 

• Adrift it is cast — a waif upon the great sea of literature — 
with the earnest hope that ere it sinks to the depths of the for- 
gotten and the unknown, it shall serve its purpose, by implant- 
ing in the breasts of our present youth, the seed of a still purer 
and nobler patriotism, which shall inure into a staple growth, at 
once the honor -and the shield of our common liberties. 

Washington-, D.C, D&xmbefr 1, 1866. 


■Washinoton, Augu3t 31, 1864. 

His Excellency Abeaham LmcoLN, President of the United States; 

"Will you permit me to recommend Robert Henry Hendershot, the Drum- 
mer Boy of the Rappahannock, to a cadetship at the "West Point Military 
School? He earnestly desires to acquire a military education, and his 
youthful promise as a brave defender of his country, would seem to make 
his appHcation one deserving especial consideration. 

The selection of this lad for such a favor by the Chief Executive may well 
inspire the youth of the country with a spirit of emulation in the military 
service, and meet with commendation from all patriotic people. 
"With sentiments of great respect, 

I am, your obedient servant, 

Treaaitrer of the United States. 

His Excellency Abuahau Lincoln: 

It affords me the greatest pleasure to testify to the great gallantry and 
loyalty of young Hendershot. He served under me for some tim«; and at 
the battle of Fredericksburg displayed most distinguished courage. 

A. E. BURNSIDE, Major General. 



Abmy Off THE United States, 

City Point, Va., January 14, 18G5. 

I would most respectfully recommend this boy for a cadetship at the West 
Point Military Academy, during the ensuing year. 

U. S. GEANT, Lieutenant General. 

I cheerfully concur in the above recommendation. 

aEOEGB G. MEADE, Major General. 

Eobert Henry Hcndershot entered the service as a Drummer Boy of the 
Ninth Michigan Infantry, in 1861. He was always brave, gallant and wor- 
thy. He is of the proper metal to make a good soldier. 

Late Coloiiel Ninth Michigan Infantry. 

I know the Drummer Boy, and cheerfully concur in the good opinion ex- 
pressed in his favor. 

lAeut. Colmiel U. S. J.., Q. M. Dept. Ohio. 

The bearer, the Drummer Boy of the Eappahannock, is deserving of the 
gratitude of the American people. 


I fully concur in the above. 

Vice President Chicago and North-iuestern R. B. 



Tkeasurt of the United States, 

Washington, January 1, 1865. 

Robert Henry Hendershot 
months or more he has been 

is now a messenger in my ofiBce. For the six 
in my office he has conducted himself with the 

utmost propriety. Aside from the reports of his good conduct in the mili- 
tary service of which I have heard, I have seen evidence of his great per- 
sonal bravery. I think him made for military service. 

As a citizen of Michigan, I 


am proud of this boy. 

R. N. RICE, 

I know something of this 

General Supt. Michigan Central Railroad. 

boy, and believe he is very brave, manly and 


I concur in the above. 

E. 0. C. ORD, Majm- General. 


Pateiotism, or love of country, is one of the 
cardinal virtues of every true heart. It has been 
recognised as the crowning glory of generous 
manhood and womanhood in all ages and in all 
countries. Through all history, from the dawn 
of civilized and even barbaric life to this present 
day, mankind have declared it, written it, acted 
it, vindicated it at all times, under all circum- 
stances, through good report and evil report, at 
the council fires of the untutored savage, in the 
patriarchal circles of Eastern lands, in the 
household, in the forum, the legislative halls of 
States and Nations, and amid the carnage and 
wreck of battles. It shines forth from the lore 
of the ancient and mediaeval commonwealths, — 


from Greece, and Italy, and Geneva ; from tlie 
utterances of Demosthenes and Cicero, Bodinas 
and Mactiavel ; of Calvin and Luther ; of Sidney 
and Rousseau ; of Voltaire, D'Alembert and Did- 
erot ; of Blackstone and Locke. 

This spirit of joatriotism, thus inculcated and 
nurtured, imbued the souls of those noble men, 
who, crossing " the desperate winter sea," estab- 
lished our colonial life, carried their descendants 
triumphantly through the sea of revolutionary 
strife, and enabled them to found a grand Re- 
public of States, based upon that lofty principle, 
derived directly from Nature and Nature's God 
— that creed so broad and so grand — that every 
man is the equal, before the law, of every other 
man ; that every man has an inalienable right 
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ; 
that the conscience should be unfettered ; that 



the people are the source of power, and the 
good of the people the sole object of govern- 
ment itself. 

It was this patriotism, this love of country 
and free institutions, which prompted James Otis, 
Patrick Henry, and John Adams, to utter words 
for freedom that quivered with the electricity 
of lightning, and burned deathless into a mil- 
lion of hearts, flashed defiantly against despot- 
ism from a million of eyes, and formed an army 
of bayonets, which, to use the expressive elo- 
quence of Adams, should resist all attempts of 
George III. " to forge chains long enough and 
strong enough to reach around these States." 
And this patriotism, this love of our country 
and free institutions, has never waned, never 
ebbed and left barren the hearts of our people, 
since those eventful days of revolution, blood 


and triumpli. It has formed an elemental, com- 
ponent part, in all our constitutional policy, 
in all our party organizations, in all our succes- 
sive treaties, voyages and discoveries, in all our 
campaigns and victories over foreign nations. It 
is taught by the mother to the infant on her 
knee ; it is nourished in the mother's milk ; it 
is instilled into the youthful heart in the tales 
of our revolutionary sires — the stories of the 
great and good Washington, of WaiTen, and Put- 
nam, and Greene, and Wayne ; of DeKalb, and 
Kosciusko, and Lafayette — citizens of foreign 
lands but heroes in the cause of liberty. It 
displays itself in our school-books, and in our 
local and national histories. It is evinced in 
the pride with which we 'hail the " starry em- 
blem of our nationality," as glitteringly and glo- 
riously it is borne aloft by militia soldiery on 


training days and upon all public occasions. It 
bubbles spontaneously from the heart as we 
listen to tlie soul-stirring melody and sentiment 
of our national songs. It glows radiant, jocund 
and defiant, as we spread open the map of 
America, and comprehend her vast expanse of 
territory, her millions of people, her resources 
of wealth and power, her commerce, inland and 
on the seas, penetrating everywhere under the 
sun ; her great names and her great days ; her 
loving heart and her hospitable welcome, extend- 
ing the promise of domicile and plenty to the 
oppressed of the world. 

These things, these realities, and these remem- 
brances, have all combined to preserve and 
strengthen patriotism in the American heart, and 
thereby the sustenance and perpetuity of the 
national life. 



Is it strange, that under sucli a growtt. of 
ideas and sentiment, the mass of the American 
people, especially those descended from the Puri- 
tanic stock of Pilgrim Rock, should rally with 
a vigor unparalleled in the history of the world, 
to save the Republic founded by their fathers, 
and under which they had lived so long, enjoy- 
ing so much of life and freedom, of happiness and 
protection, when a portion of our people, de- 
scendants, too, from the colonial founders at 
Jamestown, influenced and maddened by mean, 
ambitious men, sought to subvert that grand 
Empire of States, bound together and for all 
time by the Federal Constitution, which all the 
people had declared was, and ever should be, 
their supreme law ? 

The convictions and earnest aspirations of all 
lovers of our common country, were for the 



maintenance of the Federal Government; and 
" Let us figlit for the Union ! " was the rally- 
ing cry of the gathering hosts. The Churches 
of all denominations thundered on behalf of the 
cause of the Union. The Colleges of our coun- 
try joined the Churches in their appeal for 
National Unity. And the Literature of the land, 
in its thousand forms, spoke trumpet-tongued for 
the continued integrity of the " government be- 
queathed to us by our beloved sires." 

Thus, as in the olden time, was the great North- 
ern heart nerved to battle. The South, intent on 
the ruin of the national government, the structure 
moulded by the wisdom of the greatest patriots 
of earth, and baptized and sanctified by a peril- 
ous and bloody war — a structure grander far than 
Ephesian temple — refusing all concessions, all 
compromises, all conventions of the people, and 


every amicable settlement of their supposed diffi- 
culties, declared for no peaceful arbitration, but 
threw down at the feet of the Northern people 
the unsheathed sword — symbol of war. 

With a sorrowing heart, but a firm, undying 
purpose, the North accepted the challenge, and 
the tocsin of war sounded through the length 
and breadth of the land. Everywhere were seen 
the camp-fires of our citizen soldiery. In city, 
and town, and callage, were constantly heard 
the drum and fife summoning patriots to action. 
Thousands and tens of thousands of fathers, 
mothers, sisters and sweethearts, were bidding an 
affectionate, and alas ! far too often, an eternal 
farewell to fathers, husbands, brothers and lovers, 
hastening to the fields of carnage and glory. The 
best manhood and the noblest youth of our 
country rushed to the rescue. The war con- 



stantly assumed greater proportions, its terrors 
and its dangers increased, and for four long 
years the cause of the Union oscillated, pen- 
dulum like, victory now perching on Union 
and anon on rebel banner, until at last, God 
smiling upon us, the Kight was maintained, the 
Republic vindicated, and Liberty secured in 
reality as well as in name. 


Among tliose who became distinguislied in tlie 
history of tlie Great Rebellion was a lad of 
twelve summers, wlio, inspired witli noble im- 
pulses to serve his country in its hour of peril, 
early in the war won the admiration of the 
soldiers and the people by his display of indo- 
mitable courage and high chivalric spirit. 

RoBEET Henry Hendeesiiot, the brave Drum- 
mer Boy of the Rappahannock, was born in 
Cambridge, Michigan, on the 11th day of De- 
cember, 1850, and is the son of worthy parents. 
His father died when he was quite an infant. 
In 1860, his mother moved to Jackson City, Michi- 
gan, where, she being very poor, he did what he 



could to earn liis own clothes, peddling fruit 
and pop-corn on the Jackson and Adrian pas- 
senger trains, and blacking boots for any person 
who would give him a dime. The money he 
thus earned, beyond what was necessary to pur- 
chase raiment for himself, he gave to his mother 
for safe-keeping. Occasionally he would extend his 
sphere of traific to Detroit. Thus he became 
well known to the employees of the railroad, 
and was quite popular with them. Although 
of a disposition naturally good, kind-hearted, and 
fond of his mother, he nevertheless, owing to 
his mingling at such an early age among men 
of rambling, reckless disposition, acquired to 
some extent their habits and inclinations, which 
he frequently gratified by running away from 
home, generally by getting into the good graces 
of persons connected with circus companies; and 



once he accompanied, for some time, Dan. Rice's 
famous sliow, wherein he became quite an expert 
in feats of tumbling; in fact lie was up to 
everything which presented novelty and excite- 

In the spring and summer of 1861, his mother, 
realizing the lack of an education in herself, 
and knowing the importance of it in children 
growing up to take their places in the world, 
persuaded Henry to attend one of the public 
schools in the city, urging him to be diligent in 
his studies and strive to fit himself for a clerk- 
ship in a store; telling him if he would learn 
and be an honest, steady boy, he might some- 
time become a merchant and have a store of 
his own, gain wealth and live in easy cii'cum- 
stances, like many around him. 

This kind counsel and appeal of the mother 



deeply impressed the boy, and lie attended school 
regularly, and really did his utmost to acquire 
the education which unquestionably he so much 
needed. All at once the cry of war resound- 
ed through the land, striking momentary ter- 
ror into the hearts of our people. Business 
was suspended. Stores and workshops were 
closed, the hum of the factory was stilled, the 
plow was left in the partly-turned furrow ; — all 
was intense excitement, for the telegraph pro- 
claimed everywhere that our Southern country- 
men, maddened into desperation by mean, am- 
bitious men, wild in the belief that their rights, 
under the Federal Government, were assailed 
and threatened with destruction, had, on the 12th 
day of April defied the national authorities, by 
an assault upon Fort Sumter; which, after a 
terrible resistance of thirty odd hours, had been 



forced to yield, and the " Stars and Stripes," 
tbat emblem of pride wMcli never before in 
the history of the nation had been humbled by 
a foe, was lowered, and that another flag, the 
symbol of secession, with a palmetto and a ser- 
pent, flaunted in its place. 

It is not to be wondered at that an event 
which overthrew the equanimity of the most 
sober citizens, should equally afi:ect the excitable 
mind of a youth who had ever "been ready for 
any wild and romantic undertaking. In Jack- 
son City, as eveiywhere else in the loyal north, 
troops were being reciniited under the call of the 
President for seventy-five thousand volunteers, 
and daily the piping of the fife and the beating 
of the drum were heard throughout the town. 
Companies of men were hastily formed and 
marched away to the pcd?its cPcq^pui — Washington 



in the East and Cairo in tlie West. And the 
juveniles in the town, imbued also with martial 
ardor, organized a soldier company, paraded the 
streets with their wooden guns, displaying all 
the pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious 
war! Henry, although "entirely ignorant of the 
nature of war, its causes, consequences or the 
object to be attained, nevertheless, felt the 
witching spell with which the very mention of 
war affects the ambitious mind, and possessing 
some heroic ingredients in his composition, heartily 
wished success to the soldiers, and longed him- 
self to serve as a volunteer. But all his efforts 
in this direction met with a cold repulse, the 
plea in bar of his suit being his extreme youth. 
Henceforth school had no pleasures for him, 
and it was impossible to keep him in it. Never 
was there a greater truant. The dream of war, 


the ambition for a soldier's glory, had filled the 
measure of his soul, to the exclusion of every- 
thing else ; nor could the lore of the school, 
the talk of friends, the entreaties, the remon- 
strances, or the whippings by the mother, in the 
least affect his resolution to himself become a 
soldier boy. 

The national call for troops being speedily 
filled, the excitement somewhat subsided, and 
business again re\dved with an impetus perfectly 
astonishing. War had its demands, and every 
shuttle, forge and hammer leaped and rang as 
if themselves feeling the inspiration. The Gov- 
ernment and the people were determined to 
crush the rebellion, and deemed the force already 
called out a sui3icient one to consummate the 
work. How little they knew of the nature of 


treason ! How poorly they read the horoscope 
of the future ! 

Although the people, deluded in the strength 
of the " mighty republic," at this juncture in 
public affairs, and hugging to their bosoms the 
delusion that the struggle impending was simply 
the rebellion of a few fanatics and their dupes, 
and could be crushed as easily as was the 
Whisky Kevolt, or Shay's Kebellion, had re- 
sumed their wonted avocations with that calm 
contentment incident to strong faith, — still the 
martial spirit evoked by the events of April had 
taken deep root in the hearts of the youth, and 
in Jackson, as in hundreds of other places, they 
resolved themselves into, as they then thought, 
permanent companies, seeming to comprehend, in 
some measure, the magnitude the conflict would 
assume, while declaring that " they would yet 



be big enougli to carry real guns, and shoot 
them, too, before the war ended." How true 
this utterance proved to be, the country knows, 
alas ! too well. 

Henry joined the little company of soldier 
boys formed in his town, and soon became theii' 
diTimmer. He got an old drum, and practiced 
upon it so continually that the neighbors be- 
came disgusted, and took it away from him 
several times ; but the captain of the company as 
often had it returned ; finally, he, too, tired of 
the noise, and told the ambitious drummer that 
he must give it up, but that he might become 
a fifer for the company, if he could procure the 
instrument. His ambition again aroused, he told 
his captain he could get one. But how ? that 
was the question. He had no money himself at 
this time, nor would his mother give him any. 


for she was opposed to the whole scheme of his 
becoming a soldier. At last he hit upon a 
happy expedient, and proceeded to execute it. A 
Mr. Kings! ey owned a music store in the town, 
and had a variety of wind and string instruments 
for sale. Upon him the would-be fifer resolved 
to play his stratagem. So he presented the mat- 
ter to him, urging the necessity of his having a 
fife to play upon that night at the meeting of 
the company, and that he had no money with 
which to pay for it. Mr. Kingsley thereupon 
kindly loaned him the fife, he agreeing to return 
it at once. Here was a triumph; and, no doubt, 
Henry honestly intended to return it as he had 
promised; but becoming enamored with it, and 
proud now in the title of fifer, he clung to it, 
evading Mr. Kingsley constantly, hoping every 
day, for weeks, that by some hook or crook he 


miglit get three dollars and discharge the obli- 
gation which he now felt that he had incurred. 
Besides, his sense of guiltiness kept increasing, 
and his studious avoidance of his patron only 
served to bring about exactly the reverse of what 
he wished — the concealment from his mother of 
the fact that he held wrongful possession of the 
fife. For Mr. Kingsley, after several weeks, find- 
ing that the boy avoided him, so that he could 
get no explanation of his conduct, or the motive 
that inspired him so to act, and knowing his 
mother, naturally related the circumstance to her. 
She, of course, expressed great surprise at the 
conduct of her son, told him that she knew 
nothing of the matter, and furthermore, that he 
had not been home for fully two weeks, and 
that she wished some one would bring him to 
her. Mr, Kingsley kindly informed her of his 



whereabouts, and slae immediately started down 
town to find him. She met him on the street 
and called him, but he ran away as fast as 
possible. The reason of his running from home 
was that his mother, having exhausted her pa- 
tience, and finding that neither her entreaties 
nor threats could induce him to attend school, 
had on several occasions made hearty applica- 
tions of birch by way of enforcing her counsels. 
However much we may deprecate the result, 
it is a fact that these punishments only added 
fuel to the flame of his excitable and now per- 
verse disposition. She then proceeded to an old 
barn, the rendezvous of the company, and 
arranged a plan with them for his capture, and 
returned home. Henry soon after visited the 
barn, when his comrades told him his mother 
had been for him, and that he ought to be 



asliamed to treat her so, and that they would 
turn him out of the company if he did not go 
home. He stoutly refused to go, when some of 
them said they would take him to his mother 
by force. Then ensued angry words, soon result- 
ing in a quarrel, in which our hero was sadly 
worsted. But they did not succeed in placing 
him in the custody of his mother. Foiled again 
in her attempt to catch him, the mother applied 
to a policeman for aid, and he succeeded in his 
effort, although it cost him a hard race, but 
being the fleeter of foot he came out victor. 
When he had thus been safely delivered into 
the hands of the mother, she requested that the 
policeman should hold him until she could pro- 
cure a rope and tie him. This was soon accom- 
plished. She then displayed a rawhide, which 
she had bought purposely for the occasion, and 

THE eappahannock:. 29 

said to him, " What do you think of yourself, 
now ?" He replied very sulkily, " Nothing," 
whereupon she proceeded to flog him most vig- 
orously, he meantime screaming with all his 
might ; but neither cries nor shrieks were of any 
avail in his case, and the louder he cried, the 
harder and faster came the blows. Nearly, if 
not quite, an hour she inflicted this castigation, 
and only ceased from sheer exhaustion. She then 
commanded him to fall upon his knees and ask 
her forgiveness. When he hesitated to do this 
extreme act of penitence, she threatened to keep 
him tied up until he did, and the thought of this 
kind of imprisonment forced him to yield, and 
he asked pardon as required. But this even did 
not procure his release ; for his mother, feeling 
that the fear of continued punishment, and not 
a contrite heart, had influenced him to ask for- 


giveness, kept him confined with the cord for 
a week afterwards, during which time she treat- 
ed him in the most approved prison style, his 
sustenance being solely a bread and water diet. 
Now there can be no doubt that this punish- 
ment was severe ; but the errors of the youth 
were very grievous, and undoubtedly merited a 
heavy penalty. But it would be a great wrong 
to attribute these proceedings to any passion in 
the heart of the mother. Clearly she saw the 
natural perversity of her son's disposition, and 
had become satisfied that kind words were of 
no avail, and that neither promises of reward, 
nor threats of punishment, could make him bet- 
ter; so, as most mothers would have done, per- 
haps, in like circumstances, out of the fullness 
of her love, desiring not triumph nor revenge, 
but his own good, had felt compelled by her 


sense of duty to resort to these extreme measures. 
And again, that famous Italian proverb, " The 
Devil tempts every man^ hut the Idler tempts the 
Devil^'' was a favorite truth with the fond moth- 
er, for which reason she sought to force him to 
school, thereby allowing him no leisure for bad 
company or the formation of bad habits. Thus, 
while some might denounce the measures she 
tried in this behalf, no one should condemn the 
motive which impelled her to them. 

Nor was this punishment without good results, 
for, after loosing him, his mother clad him neat- 
ly and packed him off to school again, which 
he continued to attend steadily for more than 
a month, making rapid progress in his studies. 
He was kindly encouraged by his teacher, who 
used gentle means only, to instill into his mind 
a love for books. 


But, alas ! in the midst of this career of refor- 
mation and learning, came the sad news of our 
defeat at Bull Run, on that fatal 21st of July 
— ^that first great battle in which we had hoped 
to have gained all, but under the ruling of the 
God of Battles had seemed to have lost all ; — 
that great battle, following which a nation's mis- 
erere was tolled from innumerable church-towers 
over the nation's dead, and the clouds of gloom 
and despair settled all over the land. But this 
shock in battle, though ever so gi'eat, could not 
crush the hopes of the American people, or in- 
cline them to considerations of peace, compromise, 
or an acknowledgment of the independence of the 
so-called Southern Confederacy. It only served to 
arouse the North to a pitch of excitement, in 
comparison with which the former call for men 
was like the current of a tiny brook beside the 


tidal waves of tlie miglity ocean. Where troops 
had gone fortli before in regiments, they now 
went in divisions. 

In this renewed demonstration of popular en- 
thusiasm, all the passions and ardor of Henry's 
youthful heart, — which had not been annihilated, 
but only slumbered, — burst forth with redoubled 
violence and energy of purpose, and again all his 
old habits of running away from school, and 
absenting himself from home, returned upon him, 
and naturally and inevitably he ran into further 
trouble. For his mother again resorted to the 
rod as the panacea for his ills ; but the boy's 
temper was more aggravated by another event 
that occurred just at this time, and which is 
worth narrating. His mother had been whipping 
him, when a brother-in-law stepped in, and she 
asked his advice as to what she should do with 


him. He replied, " I will give him something by 
which to remember me." The boy then said, 
" You are a fool," and immediately this intermed- 
dler in other people's affaine gave him another 
whipping, and a severer one by far than he had 
ever before received. The whipping ended, being 
maddened to desperation, Henry ran out of the 
house and down town, resolved on never going 
home again. Whither he should escape, or how, 
he neither knew nor cared. Friendless, as he 
thought, and penniless, he slept in a barn that 
night, and the next morning jumped upon a pass- 
ing train bound for Detroit. But here he met 
with an unexpected difficulty ; for the conductor, 
apprehensive that he was running away, and he 
not having money to pay his way, refused to 
take him to Detroit, directing him to return to 
Jackson, where he lived, and telling him that 



he could not disobey orders by passing liim over 
the road free. His appeals made no impression 
upon the conductor, so he got off at Battle 
Creek. He remained here several days. Borrow- 
ing a fish-pole and line, he angled with con- 
siderable success, selling fish enough to pay his 
fare back to Jackson, and buy all the bread 
and cheese necessary to satisfy his wants. As 
for lodgings, he exercised real economy by sleep- 
ing, as usual in such emergencies, in a barn. 

But this absence from home, in a place where 
all the people were strangers, and in which he 
must work so diligently to procure even this 
precarious subsistence, led him into a train of 
reflections wherein, after first venting the emo- 
tions of passion stirred within him at the thought 
of the cruelty inflicted upon him by his mean 
and despicable brother-in-law, as he was pleased 


to call him, lie began to come a little to him 
self. His grief now took another turn, gradually- 
dissolving in a flood of tears, until he became at 
last sufficiently cool to reason with his passions, 
and seriously to reflect what steps were to be 
taken in his sad condition. After revolving 
many schemes of action, all of which seemed 
formidable to him, he decided to return home, 
to tell his mother all that he had done, ask 
her forgiveness, resume school, and in all things 
deport himself as he ought. It is difiicult for 
any one who has not felt it, to contemplate the 
calm contentment and rapturous glow of Henry's 
feelings, as he thus realized that he had gained 
a noble victory over his passions. Pride now 
came to his relief, and happiness, perfect almost, 
possessed him, the only drawback being a feel- 
ing of resentment towards his brother-in-law, for 


Lis unwarrantable interference on tlie occasion to 

wliicli we have adverted. And, indeed, no one 
can condemn this dislike, when he reflects what 

human nature is, and how prone some persons 

are, because they are of some kin to others, to 

think that this relationship or affinity gives them 

absolute right to interfere in all family matters, 

whether these matters relate to themselves or 

entirely to others. 

Henry was gladly welcomed home by his moth- 
er, who made no threats of punishment as he 
had expected she w^ould, and upon hearing his 
story, and promises of future good behavior, only 
remarked that unless he did behave and go to 
school, she would not let him have any more 
good clothes. 

He was now, at least for a time, at peace. 
Contentment was his lot, and when he laid him- 



self down to rest that night, lie might have 
said with Cato, in the tragedy — 

' ' let guilt or fear 

Disturb man's rest: Cato knows neither of them ; 
Indifferent in his choice to sleep or die." 

How long this serenity continued, and how 
well he kept his promises, will be kno^Ti as we 
proceed with the story 


It was the happy autumnal time. The fields 
were still green, and the forests were dressed in 
their many-colored garments — the oak in its deep 
substantial red, the maple in its brighter hue, the 
chestnut in its variegated green and yellow. The 
sunshine fell upon them, and all nature smiled 
with joy. It was just ere winter came to chill 
and drive away the rich coloring and the gor- 
geous tints of nature, and subdue the poetic 
frenzy and bright-winged romance of the imagi- 
nation and the heart. The spirit of patriotism, 
which had lain dormant, not dead, in the bosom 
of our hero, now once more began to strive 
within him and . with increased power. He was 



resolved this time to consummate his higli hopes, 
and become no mere player in the drama of 
war, but a soldier in earnest, ready to dare and 
to do in the cause of country and of right. 

Again some soldiers were being recruited for 
the army, and as usual they were drilled near 
the town. Robert asked permission of the Cap- 
tain to drill with them. The request was grant- 
ed, and * so, procuring one of the wooden guns 
belonging to the mimic company of boys, he 
daily performed the task of learning the manual 
of arms, the facings, marchings, filings and align- 
ments peculiar to the school of the soldier and 
the company. 

Robert was now proud and triumphant. A 
new life rose up before him. The future was 
all glorious. He felt that now he was somebody, 
and with a firm tread he sought to impress 



every one else witli that fact. No Brigadier 
General, with Ms gilded buttons and silver star, 
could liave felt the dignity of his position more 
than he, the boy with the wooden gun, the am- 
bitious youth, of twelve summers. 

And again he behaved naughtily by quitting 
school altogether, forgetting home and mother, 
causing her to grieve deeply over his wildness 
and waywardness ; she pleading with him to come 
home, and once more be her darling boy; he 
refusing, and endeavoring to rouse her imagina- 
tion up to the high coloring of his own. But 
she, poor woman, could see no glories in war 
in which her boy could achieve a name, and 
only pictured him a mangled corpse on the first 
battle plain. 

Still he remained with the company, eating 
and sleeping in camp, and to all intents and 


purposes a soldier. Tliis company, when filled, 
was to be attached to the Kinth Michigan In- 
fantry. Its Captain, C. V. Deland, was really 
a good, kind-hearted man, and proved a worthy 
officer. One day Robert, whose soul was bent 
on being a " boy in blue," said to him, 

" Captain, won't you enlist me for a soldier ?" 
He replied, smiling, " No, my boy, I cannot. 
You are too small ; the Government will not 
accept you ; but you may remain here with us 
and driU until we go away. Then you must go 
home, for your mother don't wish you to go, 
and you are too young to go without her con- 

A week or more had passed after this con- 
versation, when one morning a telegram came, 
directing the company to proceed to Fort Wayne, 
Indiana, there to rendezvous for a time. Robert's 



mind was greatly perturbed. He did not like 
the idea of running away from home, but lie 
knew full well his mother would not consent. 
He had begged the Captain to let him go, and 
had been refused. The thought of now foregoing 
the realization of all his bright dreams, of thus 
seeing his castles in the air disappear like dew 
in the morning sun, was perfectly crushing to 
his spirit, and for a little while he was convulsed 
with grief. Then a resolution possessed him ; it 
brightened his heart; it grew stronger with his 
every thought; it intensified into faith; it in- 
hered within, and emboldened him to attempt 
an adventure whereby to gain his darling pur- 

And so when the train departed, he secreted 
himself among the soldiers in one of the cars, 
for he was become a favorite among them, and 


remained hidden away until they reached the 
point of destination. So far, so safe, thought 
the boy. But a new danger stared him in the 
face. The Captain meeting him, insisted that 
he must go back home. He pleaded to remain, 
and as an excuse said he had no money. The 
Captain generously offered to pay his fare back. 
This was a response which he did not expect 
or wish to receive. Then he changed his tac- 
tics, saying he wished to be a soldier, and if 
the Captain would let him remain, he would 
wait upon him, and do everything he wished 
for him. Finally, the Captain thinking that in 
all probability the Company would return through 
Jackson when ordered to the South, consented, 
resolved that then he should leave him at all 
events. But he was destined to find his little 
warrior a persistent fellow, and as hard to get 


rid of, tliougli by no means so terrible, as was 
tbe " Old Man of the Sea," in tlie story of Sin- 
bad the Sailor. 

The Company, together with others of the re- 
giment, remained encamped at Fort Wayne about 
a month, and meantime Robert did his duties 
well, aiding the Captain in every way he could,* 
while he in return treated him with great kind- 
ness, allowing him to sleep in his tent, and eat 
at his mess. While here, occurred another op- 
portunity for the boy to practice the drummer's 
art, and he improved it by daily going out with 
the " drum corps," and soon was able to 
play a tune. The old drum-major encouraged 
him by declaring he would yet be a proficient, 
a credit to the profession, and urged him to 
persevere. Thus flattered, he resolved on becom- 
ing a di'ummer. He was very happy, and he 


seemed forgetful that ever there might arise a 
cloud to darken the sunshine of his joy. 

It was drawing near the New Year, when the 
summons came to move southward to the " Seat 
of War." With a half melancholy face Robert 
aided the Captain in packing his carpet-sack, 
saw with regret the camp broken uj), and still- 
ness and desolation creep in where but an hour 
before all had been life and pleasure. At last, 
just as the cars were starting, he ventured again 
to plead his cause, and asked his friend if he 
could not go with him down south to help fight 
the rebels. He replied, feeling deeply in sym- 
pathy with him, that he might go if his mother 
was willing. Now his countenance brightened, 
his wonted cheerfulness returned, and he seemed 
conscious of coming triumph. 

As the train neared the depot at Jackson, a 



multitude of people were seen, who had gathered 
to bid friends a final adieu, and among them 
Robert quickly discovered his mother, who had 
come to see if she could once more regain her 
child. The Captain had said that if his mother 
consented, he could get upon the next train, 
which would also be loaded with soldiers bound 
for the same place, so he would have no diifi- 
culty in joining him. Fearing to ask his moth- 
er's consent in the presence of the Captain, feel- 
ing assured that she would stoutly refuse the 
request, and failing to procure his influence as 
an advocate in his cause, he again resorted to a 
questionable strategy. He embraced her affection- 
ately, and quietly accompanied her home, resolved 
that if she did refuse to give her permission, he 
would run away when the next train came 
along. He soon broached the subject which lay 


next his heart, but all his pleadings, all his ap- 
peals, all his pictures of the renowned glories 
of war, made no impression upon her. Her 
only reply was that he was too young and she 
could not let him go. Then he calmed down, as 
if he considered his mother's plea-in-bar a law 
which he must obey. He lay around the house 
composedly ; he whistled recklessly and sang 
scraps of songs with a perfect air of indiffer- 
ence, creating the impression in his mother that 
he cared but very little whether he went or 
stayed after all. And thus he threw the good 
woman off her guard. And when he heard the 
whistle of the coming train, he innocently re- 
marked that he would just go to the depot to 
see some of the boys of his acquaintance. And 
she, poor soul, knowing nothing of the charac- 
ter of the train, was deceived, to her own most 



bitter disappointment; for soon after slie saw 
the cars slowly approaching from the depot, and 
observed that the}^, too, were filled with sol- 
diers. Apprehension seized her, and she ran 
towards the track and then beheld, in great 
sorrow, her boy standing on the rearmost car, 
waving his handkerchief with the rest, and bid- 
ding everybody in general farewell. As the 
train passed the spot where his mother stood, 
in tears, he exclaimed, " Don't cry, mother ! I'll 
write you when I get to Louisville." Seeing 
now that all was over, that he was resolved to 
go, she simply said, " Good-bye, Robert ; Pray 
often.'''' And so swiftly sped on the cars, while 
she retraced her steps homeward to hide the 
grief that pressed her soul to earth. Nor was 
the heart of the boy hardened, although many 
of my readers may seem ready to execrate him 



for so shamefully treating his mother. I can 
assure all such that it was no real wickedness 
of heart, but an earnest, persistent, uncontrollable 
longing to mingle with the soldiers in the tented 
field, and himself to be a soldier. He felt in his 
spirit that high sense of patriotism which Horace 
expresses in this way — rather poor paraphrase, 
perhaps, of the original — 

"Who would not die in his dear country's cause 1 
Since, if base fear his dastard step withdraws, 
From death he cannot fly : one common grave 
Receives, at last, the coward and the brave." 

And SO he kept on the train with the strange 
regiment, and ariived at Louisville the next morn- 
ing. The soldiers treated him kindly, and gave 
him generously of their fare. At that time few 
men could be found who would discourage any one, 
no matter how young, from enlisting in the army. 


Arriving at Louisville, the regiment he came 
with was marched through the city and encamped 
on its southerly border. Hardly were they upon 
the ground, when our youthful adventurer des- 
cried in the distance another encampment of 
tents, and he made all haste to ascertain if the 
Ninth Michigan was there. Fortunately, or un- 
fortunately (every one must judge for himself 
which), he found that command, and at once. 
Seeing the regimental colors flying midway of a 
long line of tents, he knew that must be Compa- 
ny C — his favorite company — the one commanded 
by Captain DeLand. The first man he chanced 
to meet was the Captain himself, and he ap- 
peared greatly surprised at again seeing what he 
was pleased to style " a perfect little pest." His 
surprise over, the Captain asked Robert how he 
came there. He told him a well-made-up story. 


partly true and partly false. The Captain 
seemed satisfied and took him into his tent. 
After a time, feeling anxious for the fears of 
the mother, knowing as he did that her trouble 
with him was great, he asked him again, and 
cross-questioned him very much as a lawyer 
would a witness. The boy, through fear of being 
sent home, had based his former story on a 
false foundation ; and now, in the rigid examina- 
tion he underwent, he diverged widely from his 
former statements ; — in short, he was caught in 
what plain-spoken people call a lie. The result 
was a conference between the Captain and his 
subaltern, Lieutenant Purdy, and a resolution on 
their part to return him to his mother. 

But as Fielding, whom I regard as the truest 
depicter of poor human nature, says : " A single 
bad act no more constitutes a villain in life, 


than a single bad part on the stage. The 
worst of men generally have the words rogue 
and villain most in their mouths, as the lowest 
of all wretches are very apt to cry out, 'Low 
in the pit." Therefore while we may, and must, 
condemn the untruths he told, we should mol- 
lify that condemnation by the fact that the un- 
truths were not the emanations of a heart base 
in itself, but the weak fortifications which Satan 
always proffers to those who distrust the naked 
truth, when they wish to carry out some pas- 
sionate ambition of the heart, and are afraid it 
will be laughed at or crushed out by those upon 
whom they most depend for its realization. 

The very next morning he was put on the 
train and arrangements were made with the 
conductor to send him home. The Captain, just 
before the departure of the train, said to him, 


" Will you go home now, and be a good 
boy r 

The youth, bursting with rage and mortifica- 
tion, concentrated it all in the laconic expletive, 
"iVb, I won't/'' 

The Captain replied, " Then I shall tie you, 
for you've got to go liome^'' and procuring a stout 
cord he did so ; and after giving him some mo- 
ney to buy his meals with, and putting him in 
the special custody of the brakesman, he bade 
him good-bye, with another imperative injunction 
not to come back and trouble him any more. 

At Indianapolis the baggage-master, out of com- 
passion, untied him and he ran away. When 
the next train left for the south, he asked the 
engineer if he would let him ride, telling him 
that his regiment was at Louisville and that he 
was a drummer-boy. The engineer said, 


" Yes, and welcome, if you have no money." 
Our hero replied, and truly, " I have some 
money, just enough to buy my meals." 

The engineer then told him that he liked all 
the boys in blue, and they should never be 
compelled to walk if he could give them a 
ride ; that he did not go to Louisville, but he 
would j)ut him in charge of the engineer who 
would take his place, so that he would reach 
there safe and sound; and completed his generosi- 
ty by giving him five dollars to help him 
along. Again he went whirling over the rail, trav- 
eling with winged speed through forests, across 
prairies, over bridges, under arches, through city 
and town, with hope, that darling solace ! full 
high advanced, all thoughts bent on the bright 
side of the future, with never a care for its 
thick-coming sorrow and gloom. 



Had a veritable gliost like that even of Ban- 
quo, or such an one as the old popular supersti- 
tion declares to inhabit the Potter's-field, fright- 
ening all good people out of their senses at the 
simple idea of those once consigned to dust 
reappearing and pirouetting in the grim ghastli- 
ness of death :— had such a shade appeared from 
the disemboweled earth to the said Captain De 
Land, his mortification, indignation, and fright 
even, could not have been greater than when, 
the very next evening, Kobert Hendershot stood 
before him. All entreaties and threats were un- 
availing. It was evident he would not go, and 
could not be sent, home. So the Captain tried 
to drive him home by telling him what dread- 
ful things he would do when they should get 
into a fight ; but failing in this to cower his 
pluck, he resorted to whipping, hoping that 



abuse would force liim away. Tliis only made 
the boy very mad, and lie declared he would 
not go home, but would join some other com- 
pany. The Captain, full of vexation, replied " he 
did not care where he went, if he only kept 
out of his company." I hardly think the Cap- 
tain meant this, for he really liked the boy, 
and would gladly have had him stay but for 
the fear that if anything happened to the youth 
his mother would have considered him to blame. 
Robert, however, took the Captain at his word, 
and going to the Captain of Company B, he 
soon won his good graces and became a servant 
for him. He now thought he was all right for 
a soldier, and went with the regiment the next 
day to West Point, a small but desolate place 
near the mouth of Salt Hiver, which stream 
flows into the Ohio some thirty miles south- 


west of Louisville. For some two montlis he 
served in this way, at first enjoying it greatly, 
but gradually disliking the whole business. 

It was winter, and the weather was peculiar 
to the climate of Kentucky at such a season ; 
the sun was scarcely visible for weeks ; the 
clouds hung in dark, heavy masses around the 
borizon, or extended to the zenith with leaden 
hue, pregnant with rain which drenched the earth 
for days at a time ; the mud was deep and 
treacherous, the dread of man and of beast ; and 
camp, too, was a perfect monotony, there being 
no enemy save a few guerillas within a hun- 
dred miles or more. 

No wonder that in such a climate and amid 
such dreary surroundings our hero should get 
homesick and begin heartily to wish himself at 
home. But this wish could not be granted then. 


the Captain said, for on the very day he made 
the request, the regiment was ordered to Mul- 
drough's' Hill. What his ambition had prompt- 
ed him to, necessity now seemed to demand ; 
and while thus feeling homesick and discouraged, 
ready for any fate, the Captain offered to mus- 
ter him in as a drummer-boy, and with a glad 
heart he accepted the proposition. Accordingly 
he became at last a soldier in reality as well as 
in name. His purpose was now accomplished. 
The sunbeams of cheerfulness again shone in his 
heart, and he soon began to display all those 
qualities of hardihood and recklessness so natu- 
ral to the soldier. 


Muldeotjgh's Hill is one of the jagged and bro- 
ken spurs of the Cumberland Mountains, and 
traverses tbe Louisville and Nashville railroad 
due east and west, about thirty -five miles south 
of the former city. It was near here, while, on 
the 17th of SejDtember, 1861, the rebel General 
Buckner, with a force of 20,000 men, threaten- 
ed the seizure of that city, and with it the 
State of Kentucky, that the chivalrous Rousseau, 
with his little band of 2,000 men, waded the 
turbid waters of the Rolling Fork, and placing 
them upon Muldrough's heights, defied the rebel 
horde. It constitutes a natural defence to all 
the country north of it. It was to aid in 



strengthening this naturally strong position that 
the Ninth Michigan was ordered here, and they 
at once commenced the construction of earth- 

While here Robert wsls armed and equipped 
with a Colt's revolver and a drum, and so 
good a master did he have, and so ambitious 
was he to excel, that he speedily became an 
excellent drummer. And while here, too, he 
commenced practising with the pistol, in case 
he should have occasion to shoot a rebel. He 
had possessed his pistol for some time, but had 
never been permitted to iire it. One afternoon, 
being sent to a neighboring town on an errand, 
he carried his pistol with him, and said to him- 
self, " Now I will shoot , it all I please, and the 
guards can't stop me either." When well on the 
way he discharged one barrel, then reloaded it, 


and soon after, seeing a good fat hog, lie was 
tempted to shoot it. When one ponders upon 
the commission of a wrong act, if he harbor 
the evil intent in his heart for a moment, hu- 
man nature is so weak that she generally sur- 
renders her fortress of honor and truth, and 
what was a mere thought becomes an accom- 
plished fact, and then, when too late, the wrong- 
doer repents his folly. And so it was in this 
case. For after Robert had shot the hog five 
successive times before killing it, he became 
frightened at what he had done, and ran to 
town with all his might. On the way he met 
a man and a boy, who inquired of him whether 
he had seen a hog, saying thej^ had lost one. 
His guilty conscience accused him, but he stifled 
it and boldly answered, " I have seen no hog 
at all on the road." He returned to camp by 



the same road, and upon passing the spot 
wliere the hog lay, there were two citizens, the 
boy and a soldier looking at it. He was again 
asked if he knew anything about the matter, 
and he again stoutly denied any knowledge of 
it. The idea was very prevalent among our sol- 
diery that all was fair in war, and that being 
in a Southern State they were of course in the 
country of the public enemy, and therefore that 
pillage, plunder, theft and the destruction of 
property in general, were the essential concomi- 
tants of that condition. To guard against the 
commission of these grave offenses, wherein the 
soldier constituted himself the judge with plen- 
ary powers of execution, orders were issued by 
military commanders prohibiting these acts of 
lawless violence, and declaring that the severest 
punishment would be inflicted ujDon those guilty 

of perpetrating tliem. Once safe in Ms own camp, 
the adventurer was so elated that lie could not keep 
the secret to himself, but told some of the members 
of his company, and that night he, with others, 
stole through the guard line, found the hog, 
cut it up, and packed it back to camp. The 
boys thought they would like fresh pork for a 
change. Robert got one leg for his share, and 
gave part of it to his Captain. He naturally 
asked him where he got it, and remarked that 
the man who killed it was not a very good 
butcher. Robert simply replied that he had 
bought it down town. The next day a man 
came into camp and complained to Colonel 
Duffield that his men had killed one of his 
hogs, and taken and cooked it. The Colonel 
replied, that he had heard nothing of the affair, 
but would investigate it. He then asked the 



man if he knew who had done it. He said,. 
he thought it was a small boy. The Colonel 
remarked that he would try to find out who 
were implicated, and make them pay for it. 
He directed the '' officers' call " to be beaten, 
and on presenting themselves, they were asked 
if they knew anything about the matter. The 
Captain of Company B said : 

" My Drummer-boy brought me a piece of 
pork for my breakfast this morning, but I do 
not know where he got it ; he said he bought 

Robert was then called up to the Colonel's 
tent, and the following colloquy ensued : 

Colonel. Robert, do you know anything about 
this man's hog \ 

Hohert. No, sir. 

Colonel. Where did you get the pork you 



gave your Captain ? 

Hobert. I bought it. 

Colonel. "Who from \ 

Roh&rt. From a man down in town. Here 
his face turned very red, and he could scarcely 
- Colonel. Have you a pistol ? 

Mohert. I have, sir. 

Colonel. Let me see it. After examining it, 
he said, " When did you fire it last ?" 

Hohert. Yesterday. 

Colonel. How many times ? 

Mohert. Five. 

Colonel. This man says, when you came to 
camp you passed him on the road, and you 
had no load — nothing in your hands ; besides, 
there were five pistol shots in the hog. 

Robert's guilt now flew in his face, coloring 

it deeper than before ; he saw that he was cor- 
nered, and resolved to tell the truth, so far as 
he was concerned ; but in no manner to betray 
his companions in the adventure. He therefore 
told the truth, only assuming that he had 
brought the hog to camp himself; and thus 
the affair was settled ; he, for his punishment, 
being sent to the guard-house for one week. 

The Colonel soon after found out that other 
members of Robert's company had helped him 
to cut up and bring the pork into camp : and 
althouo-h he condemned the act in all its details, 
nevertheless being a man of generous impulses, he 
could not but approve and applaud the firmness 
and integrity of the boy's friendship in assum- 
ing that he alone had committed all the wrong, 
thereby screening from punishment those who 
were also implicated, but who would not have 



been had he not divulged the fact of the kill- 
ing. Some very moral and religious people may 
question whether there be any principle of honor 
presented in this transaction. I have no dispute 
to make upon that point, and will simply re- 
mark that there are those who think one part 
of it highly commendable, and that the world 
would be better off were such conduct more 
frequently practised. 

The next day the Colonel released the drum- 
mer-boy from imprisonment, restricting his liberty 
for the week to the camp lines, and advising 
him to do wrong no more. 

A few days after this occurrence, the regiment 
was ordered to the foot of Muldrough's Hill, 
and encamped there for several days. One of 
the most noticeable features in the life of a new 
soldier is his exceeding wariness and watchful- 


ness, especially if lie is in the field and liable 
to be confronted by an enemy. Until lie has 
become a veteran, inured to the hardships, ex- 
posures and dangers of the soldier, he never 
ventures forth without a musket, bayonet and 
pistol, fearful of meeting a foe. 

Kentucky during the war was more or less 
hostile ground. A large majority of the people 
were true to the Union cause, but there existed 
within its borders a powerful minority, whose 
every sympathy was with the rebellion, and who 
constantly encouraged rebel invasions and raids. 
And therefore, while our armies were far ad- 
vanced southward, and the rebel hosts far down 
in Middle Tennessee, or Alabama and Georgia, 
still there was no security for persons or prop- 
erty, for the cavalry of the rebels Morgan and 
Forrest, and scores of guerilla bands under desper- 


ado lead, daslied through the country, hither 
and thither, with the seeming rapidity of a comet, 
carrying consternation, ruin and death all along 
their course. 

The new regiments which generally performed 
guard duty along our railroad communications, 
and at exposed points, were necessarily on the 
alert to prevent surprise and the destruction of 
the charge in their keeping. Outpost duty was 
therefore strictly executed, and so susceptible of 
fear is the imagination in time of real or sup- 
posed danger, that many false alarms result and 
many ludicrous scenes occur. Not unfrequently 
some poor animal paid the penalty of its life 
for presuming to venture too near the over-zeal- 
ous pickets in search of a stray bit of herbage-. 
Such an event happened at this time with the 
Ninth Michigan. One very dark night, about 


tlie hour of twelve, one of the guards heard 
something approaching him, and with gruff voice 
shouted ."Halt!" then repeated the well-known 
formula " TFA6> comes there f A second and third 
time this query was propounded, but no answer 
came. Hearing the noise continue, apparently a 
stealthy creeping through the bushes near him, 
fear, too, partly seizing him, so that now one 
foot-tread magnified into the tramp of a thou- 
sand, he fired his gun and at once raised an 
alarm. The entire camp was awakened, great 
excitement prevailed, men were ordered out, their 
guns loaded, the picket line reinforced, and the 
regiment held for action ; and so the long hours 
of that eventful night passed away in earnest 
w^atching and fearful suspense. But no enemy 
appeared, no attack was made, in fact, no fur- 
ther noise was heard ; this awful stillness made 


the suspense more terrible. Daylight came at 
last, and the object of the alarm was discovered. 
A few rods in front of the trusty guard was 
found an unfortunate pig, which, having got en- 
tangled in some briars, had naturally tried to 
get out, but not without making some noise. 
This had attracted the sensitive ear of the guard, 
resulting in the instantaneous death of the pig, 
without even a parting squeal to inform his 
enemy of the nature of his victim. 

And how did our hero behave ; he who had 
been so persistent in his efforts to become a sol- 
dier and shoot the traitors to his country ? The 
record exhibits no special bravery ; but on the 
other hand he very much resembled the courage 
of Jos. Sedley — a character so inimitably de- 
scribed by Thackeray in his " Vanity Fair." 
In the confusion incident to the alarm, our brave 

THE eappahanttoce:. 73 

warrior boy frantically rushed through the camp, 
having first beaten the long roll, and seeing 
Lieutenant Purdy — one of those officers who had 
taken such an active part in sending him home 
on a former occasion — he despairingly asked 
him " What shall I do ?" meanwhile hanging on 
his coat-tail and following him around as if he 
were his only friend on earth. The Lieutenant, 
ashamed of the ridiculous sight, peremptorily 
ordered him away, telling him that if he hung 
on him he would get shot. This remark had 
its weight, Robert evidently seeing the thing in 
a new light, and remembering there was a barn 
a little distance in rear of the camp, he ran 
and hid away in that till morning. Perchance 
at this time he thought with Hudibras — 



' ' Ah me I what perils do environ 
The man that meddles with cold iron 1 
For tho' Dame Fortune seemed to smile, 
And leer upon him for a while, 
She'll after show him, in the nick 
Of all his glories, a dog-trick. " 

He afterwards very sagely remarked in speaking 
of this affair, " I did not get killed that night, 
sure." But we must remember that this was the 
boy's first experience in an alarm of battle ; 
and we cannot wonder that a lad of twelve 
years should get frightened, particularly when 
we recall the fact that hundreds and thousands 
of full-g-rown men have run on similar occasions. 
A week after this affair the regiment was or- 
dered to Nashville, Tennessee, going by rail to 
Louisville, thence by steamer to Smithland, a 
small town at the mouth of the Cumberland 
river, thence across the country to their destina- 


tion on foot. Arriving here, Robert met witli 
another adventure. Anxious to see the city, he 
received permission from his Colonel to do so. 
Having satisfied his desire in this respect, he 
began to inquire the whereabouts of his regiment, 
but all his inquiries were unavailing. A very 
rigid system of Provosts was maintained at that 
time in the city, and as night approached they 
made their usual rounds, halting every soldier 
they met, and woe to him if he had not the 
requisite pass properly signed by his command- 
ing officer and approved at Post Head Quarters. 
Kobert, little knowing the existence of this 
strict rule, soon fell in with a squad of these 
patrols, and having no pass at all, save the ver- 
bal one received from his commander, and which 
the soldiers failed to see, was marched, in spite 
of all his protestations, to the guard-house, where 



he had the privilege of lying on the naked 
floor for the night. The next morning he was 
returned to his regiment, and again made a 
short residence in the guard-house for being gone 
all night. 


The regiment now proceeded to Murfreesboro, 
Tennessee, a place now famous in history and 
in song for tlie many liard-fouglit battles in and 
around it. It is a beautiful town of about four 
thousand inhabitants, situated on high rolling 
ground, bordering the north fork of Stone river, 
and thirty miles south of Nashville, on the 
Nashville and Chattanooga railway. It has many 
handsome houses, several churches, and a court- 
house very pretty in its architectural design, 
and which stands in the centre of a large pub- 
lic square, all around which are the business 
places of the town. The surrounding country 
stretches away in a plain-like surface, especially 


on the soutli and west, presenting a great va- 
riety of landscape. Here and there appear great 
tracts, cultivated with cotton or -R-ith grain, while 
ever and anon are seen the spacious mansions 
of the planters, environed with thrifty hedges 
and groves teeming with the tropical verdure. 

The Ninth Michigan, together with some other 
commands, including a battery, occupied the town 
for some months, guarding a considerable amount 
of stores which were placed there, making it an 
intermediate base in the operations of Buell's 
army. Company B — Robert's company — was con- 
stituted the provost guard for the town, its 
quarters being in the Court-house. 

In the early summer, sickness prevailed to con- 
siderable extent, and among the victims to ty- 
phoid was Robert tlie Drummer-boy. "With him, 
as with thousands of others thus prostrated in a 

strange land upon a bed of suffering and pain, 
memory recalled a home whicli then seemed more 
precious than ever. It rose before him — humble 
and homely — but a home nevertheless, blessed 
with a mother's love, a love which he felt, in 
its yearning sympathy, reached him, though 
never so far away, assuaging every sorrow, dis- 
pelling every grief, cheering his heart with new- 
found delight, purifying his soul with sacred 
influences, which lifted him above the meaner 
ambitions of life, and made him feel that his 
own home, so abounding with a mother's love, 
was the Heaven of his hopes and joys — a Hea- 
ven, perchance, lost forever. 

But he was not deserted in his hour of trou- 
ble. His comrades attended him and he had 
attentive medical care: and among the good com- 
pany who visited him at this time was a kind- 


hearted old lady who lived near by, named 
Reaves. She was assiduous in her attentions, 
and as he grew better, she brought him vege- 
tables to eat and buttermilk to drink. He felt 
very thankful to her, and soon as he was able 
to go about, visited much at her house. Now 
it happened that the good Mrs. Reaves had two 
daughters, youthful and florid beauties, and it 
will be no great stretch of the imagination if 
it should occur to the reader that sensations, 
sweet and delicious, perturbed the hearts of all 
three, and that compassion soon grew into es- 
teem, and at length ripened into a warmer 
regard. This state of thiugs might have been 
hastened from the fact that our hero was again 
taken sick with the measles, and at the request 
of his benefactress permitted to remain with Mrs. 
Reaves, where he was ministered to not only 


by tlie lady herself but by the two blooming 
damsels. But he was probably very far from a 
sanojuine assurance that his inclinations wo aid 
ever attain that acme of wedded bliss which 
such a passion, properly encouraged, under favor- 
able circumstances generally attains. He was 
too young for such an exploit ; however, Cupid 
is not at all particular in whose hearts he 
lodges his arrows of love, and alliances occur 
in which the ages of the parties seem to be 
considered the least important requisite. 

At any rate, nothing ever came of this plea- 
santry. Perhaps it was because a cruel and in- 
exorable fate, in the shape of a swift-coming 
military disaster, prevented it. Ah, fate ! how 
omnipotent thy power ! Indeed — 

' ' We are the victims of its iron rule, 
The warm and beating human lieart its tool ; 
And man, a mortal, godlike, but its fool." 


Among other incidents that occurred in the 
career of our hero while at this place is this 
one : One day while at the depot waiting the 
Southern train, he met a comrade, and the two 
resolved to go to Nashville, although without 
leave or license. When near La Vergne the 
train ran off the track, piling up into an inex- 
tricable wi'eck. The result was the two runa- 
ways had to walk back a distance of fifteen 
miles. Of course he had been missed, and upon 
giving an account of himself he was consigned 
to the guard-house for three days to expiate the 
offense. This guard-house was a two-story con- 
cern, in which all sorts of offenders were placed. 
At this time there were seventeen poor slaves 
in confinement up stairs, awaiting reclamation 
by their masters, it being the policy of our 
government then to make the army, to a certain 



extent, tlie custodian of that species of property. 
These poor slaves, having an aspiration for free- 
dom in their hearts, had fled from their masters 
and come within the Federal lines at Murfrees- 
boro, expecting to find that sacred boon beneath 
the stars and stripes. How great their disap- 
pointment, when under the command of a Federal 
ofl&cer they were locked up for a speedy return 
to bondage ! That night as the drummer-boy 
lay on the floor in a room below them, and 
heard their moans and the tales of their sor- 
row, his heart felt for them, and he resolved 
if possible to set them free. So, making an 
excuse to the solitary guard that the graybacks 
in his room were too numerous for his comfoif, 
he asked permission to sleep up stairs in tlie 
hall. This was granted, and in the course of 
the night he managed to force the door, and 



silently, one by one, the slaves stole across the 
guard's beat and escaped. This task accom- 
plished, he returned to his old sleeping place, 
and in the morning when it was found the 
slaves had flown he knew nothing about it. 
Here was evinced more sympathy for the unfor- 
tunate blacks than had often been manifested 
as yet by our army ; and the act of freeing 
them was certainly a most daring achievement 
in one so young. Evidently he had not the 
fear of a violation of the Fugitive Slave Law, 
the compromises of the Constitution, or the mili- 
tary orders in respect to the institution of sla- 
very, the least in his mind. He could see no 
justice in confining any human being simply 
because he desired his freedom; and, acting upon 
this impulse, the foundation of Natural and Di- 
vine, if not of Human Law, he performed 





the deed. And who, to-day, will condemn it ? 

On the 29tli of June, 1862, an expedition 
was made to Chattanooga, Tennessee, under the 
command of Gen. James S. Negley. A portion 
of his forces moved easterly from Rogersville, 
Alabama, while the remainder advanced from 
Murfreesboro, the two forces concentrating at 
Sweden's Cove, in the Cumberland Mountains. 
The Ninth Michigan constituted a part of the 
Murfreesboro force, and as a matter of course 
the Drummer-boy accompanied it. Chattanooga 
was a distance of fully one hundred and thirty 
miles, and the march was rapidly made. A 
slight skirmish ensued at Sweden's Cove, but no 
great resistance was offered. 

By the 4th of June the entire command was 
in front of Chattanooga. The troops were drawn 
up in line of battle on the north bank of the 


Tennessee, and the artillery commenced playing 
upon the town, and to-day many houses are 
evidence of the cannonade. All along the south 
bank of the river were rifle-pits and redoubts, 
mounted with heavy guns, capable of maintain- 
ing a vigorous assault. The demonstration, how- 
ever, was confined almost entirely to our side, 
and, after a few hours of indiscriminate firing, 
confined principally to the artillery, our forces 
withdrew, concluding that Chattanooga was too 
strongly fortified, and might be too well filled 
wdth rebels, silent and concealed, to justify any 
attempt to take possession of the place. And 
thus the expedition ended. The troops marched 
back to Murfreesboro and other posts, and set- 
tled down into the usual routine of camp life. 
In this affair our Drummer-boy performed no 
feat of arms, but made a very successful forage 



raid. The wagon-train having gotten well behind 
the troops, and the men having exhausted their 
haversacks, the drum corps received permission 
of the Major to scour the country for a short 
distance and supply themselves with something 
to eat. They soon came to a negro-hut, and 
asked the blacks where there was a rich rebel 
lived. They said their master was a rich rebel, 
and that he lived just down the road and over 
the hill. They soon found the house, and as it 
was then early in the war, when the poor igno- 
rant Southern people had been taught that the 
Northern soldiers were monsters and wore horns 
on their heads like an ox or cow, the inmates 
became very much frightened, and the old man, 
the mothers and the daughters, all fell upon 
their knees, begging the drummer band not to 
touch them, saying, " Indeed we are Union peo- 



pie." The boys replied that they would not harm 
a hair of their heads, but that they were hungry 
and wished something to eat. They then pro- 
tested that they had nothing for themselves, 
that the guerillas had only the day before taken 
everything from them — flour, meal and all. As 
the negroes had said these people were rebels, 
they did not believe their story, although told 
ever so affectingly, so they proceeded to search 
the house to satisfy themselves of the truth of 
what had been said. The discoveries did not 
verify the statements made^ for in the cupboard 
were found rolls of corn-cake, plates of biscuits, 
pies, jars of preserves, and many other niceties 
not likely to have been left by rebel raiders. 
They therefore helped themselves to the goodies 
most plenteously. They then descended into the 
cellar. Here our Drummer-boy found a barrel 



of whisky — pure Robinson county — and soon 
every canteen was filled. Other soldiers now 
coming up, they were supplied, and having stowed 
away all that was possible, not only in their 
stomachs, I am sorry to say, but in their can- 
teens, cups and other utensils, they knocked in 
the head of the barrel and sj)illed the remain- 
der on the ground. They then proceeded to 
another house, where they found several pans of 
milk, which they drank, and then killed a pig, 
one of the number shouldering and carrying it. 
Coming to a shady hollow, through which mean- 
dered a rivulet, they kindled a fire and pre- 
pared their evening repast, cutting the pig into 
small pieces and roasting them on a stick. 
Here, too, the regiment had encamped for the 
night. Another time he stopped at a house and 
asked the lady if she had any chickens to sell. 


She said, " Yes, if you will pay me in silver." 

He replied, " I have no silver, but will pay 
you in greenbacks." 

She retorted, curling her lip and looking very 
contemptuously at one which he held in his 
hand, " Humph ! they are not worth the paper 
they are printed on." 

He then concluded she was a rebel " dyed in 
the wool," and so helped himself to the chick- 
ens — a donation by the lady because of her 
prejudices against Uncle Samuel's money 

On the 11th of July, 1862, the news came 
to Murfreesboro that the famous raider, John 
Morgan, had dashed into Lebanon, Tenn., with 
his cavalry, and was carrying on with a high 
hand ; that the force stationed there had been 
taken prisoners ; that two citizens had been 
killed ; and that the depot of commissary and 



quarter-master's stores had been destroyed. A 
regiment of cavalry chanced to be in Murfrees- 
boro at that time, and it was ordered to go 
to the relief of the town, distant some fifteen 
miles. Our Drummer, not yet distinguished by 
his display of heroic valor, but longing to wipe 
out the stigma which he felt attached to him 
at Muldrough's Hill, hearing that the cavalry 
regiment was going to Lebanon to fight John 
Morgan, and being acquainted with some of the 
men, gained the consent of his Captain to ac- 
company them. Mounting one of their horses, 
armed with his own pistol and a sabre, he was 
ready for the fray. Away dashed the squadrons, 
and in an hour and a half Lebanon was reached. 
The company with which the Drummer served 
was deployed into a skirmish line, and soon met 
the rebels. A volley of balls came whirring 



tbrougli the air as they entered into the streets 
of the town, one of them wounding the Lieu- 
tenant, by whose side Robert rode, in the leg. 
This frightened our hero a little, and he gal- 
loped around a corner close at hand to get out 
of danger, and ran into a whole parcel of rebels, 
several of whom fired at him. Now, seeing 
rebels all round him, he seemed to get suddenly 
courageous, and, straightening up in his saddle, 
discharged the six loads of his revolver at the 
" Johnnies," who stood and looked on in amaze- 
ment at the temerity of so small a boy. Then 
he wheeled his horse around the corner again, 
dashed on to his company, which was now skir- 
mishing in another direction, and remained with 
it until Morgan's men cleared the town, and, 
amid a great cloud of dust, hurried away to- 
ward McMinnville. This exploit won the little 


Drummer a name. The daring deed gained cir- 
culation tlirougli tlie public press, and ere he 
knew it the name of " Robert Hendershot, the 
Drummer-boy" was familiar to thousands all over 
the land. He returned to Murfreesboro that 
night, little dreaming that on the morrow he 
would add another laurel to his wreath of fame. 


Sunday, the 13tli of July, 1862, witnessed a val- 
iant but unequal contest between the rebel and 
federal soldiery in and around Murfreesboro. 
The troops assigned to the defense of this place 
consisted of six companies of the Ninth Michi- 
gan volunteers, Lieut. Col. Parkhurst ; a squad- 
ron of the Fourth Kentucky Cavalry ; the Third 
Minnesota Volunteers, Col. Lester; and Hewitt's 
First Kentucky Battery — a total force of about 
eight hundred men, all under the command of 
Col. Lester, as post commandant. Exercising a 
questionable generalship, Col. Lester had sepa- 
rated this small force into two detachments, 
scattering it at a distance of fi'om a half to 



three quarters of a mile east of the town, and 
fully a mile apart, and was illy prepared to 
receive the blow. Gen. T. L. Crittenden, just 
assigned to the command of the post by order 
of Gen. Buell, and Colonel Duffield, who had 
been absent on leave, arrived on the evening 
of the 12th, and having inspected the location 
of these troops, discussed the impropriety of a 
divided command, and decided upon concentra- 
tion, but concluded to defer it until the morrow. 
A fatal delay ! it was then too late. 

The sun had not yet risen, and the men were 
still slumbering, when the clatter of horses' 
hoofs, and the sharp, quick rattle of numberless 
guns, told too fearfully that the enemy was 
upon them — that they were indeed surprised. 
They rushed from their tents and made the best 
resistance possible, but, all unformed, their ran- 



dom shots were without effect. Crittenden was 
captured in his bed ; Duffield, springing into 
the centre of the combat, received two wounds 
which disabled him for further duty ; and Park- 
hurst, after several attempts, formed a hollow 
square to resist the heavy cavalry charge, which 
was again sweeping heavily down upon him. 
In this compact form they repulsed the rebel 
onslaughts for full twenty minutes, hurling volleys 
of bullets into their advancing line, compelling 
them to retire. But they returned with increased 
force, and the Ninth Michigan was dislodged 
from its position, scattered, and thenceforward 
fought in squads and on their own hook. Capt. 
DeLand alone, maintaining his company forma- 
tion, dej^loying them into a skirmish line, and 
fighting behind trees, stumps and bushes, did 
effectual service. The Third Minnesota, in its 


isolated condition, fared no better, and by ^jleven 
o'clock in the forenoon the whole command v^as 
forced to surrender. Company B, Lieut. Eice 
commanding, Captain Rounds being absent, occu- 
pying the Court-house, did their duty bravely. 
When the Texas Rangers and the Georgia Chiv- 
alry awoke the still morning with their terrific 
yells, as they rushed into the public square, 
Robert Hendershot, the Drummer-boy, raal^le 
to sleep, had already risen, and chanced 'o be 
looking out of a window. Seeing a long line 
of horsemen on the gallop, and hearing xhAr 
yells, he knew it must be the enemy. A.l ox- 
cited, he rushed for his drum, and beat up^n 
it the long roll with such tremendous e lergy 
that in an instant every occupant of the (^ou^t- 
house was as wide awake and as excited as 
himself As soon as the rebels entered the 



square they poured a volley of bullets wliicli tore 
through the windows (to use the language of the 
Drummer-boy), "like sand through a sieve." 
The action now commenced in earnest, with the 
advantage decidedly in favor of the occupants 
of the Court-house, for it served them as a bar- 
ricade, and, with unerring aim, they laid low 
many a misguided Southron who that day en- 
tered the fray. Finally, the rebels got posses- 
sion of the lower story of the building, and 
after a bloody hand-to-hand conflict on the stair- 
way, failing to subdue the heroic band, set the 
house on fire, determined that it should either 
surrender or burn up. As human nature can 
more easily endure captivity than burning, and 
finding no escape from the one or the other, 
the men surrendered. 

None in this heroic band acted a more dis- 



tinguislied part tlian tlie Drummer-boy. After 
beating tLe long roll lie seized a musket and 
cartridge-box whicli lay upon the floor, and pro- 
tecting himself behind the wall near a window, 
deliberately picked out and shot at man after 
man. Among others was a rebel Colonel, who 
stood on the side-walk in front of a house 
within easy hailing distance. The Drummer hal- 
looed to him and said, " Go into the house 
there, you rebel, or I'll shoot you," to which 
command the Colonel roughly replied, with a 
profane imprecation, " I'll go into the house 
when I get ready." The Drummer made the 
same demand again and received the same reply. 
The gun was then discharged, and the rebel 
Colonel, reeling for a moment, sank to the 
ground a corpse. Some citizens, who knew the 
Drummer-boy, saw him commit this deed, and 



it did not help to assure liim any better treat- 
ment, now tliat lie was captured. The rebels 
gathered around the men as tliey marclied out 
of the Court-bouse, and robbed tbem of every- 
thing valuable they had. One rifled the Drum- 
mer's pocket of the little money he possessed. 
The Federal sick and wounded havins; been 
paroled, the balance of the command was marched 
to McMinnville, a distance of fifty-eight miles 
south and east of Murfreesboro. This Ions; and 
tedious journey they were compelled to make 
in fifteen hours, and a portion of it under a 
hot July sun. Our hero having for several days 
had a severe attack of camp diarrhoea, was in 
no condition to make this forced march. Soon 
after .starting, the rebel Gen. Forrest passing 
him, he asked if he could ride. The General 
replied in a very severe tone, "Xo." This made 


him mad. He fell out of the ranks and de- 
clared he was sick, that he might shoot him, 
but he would not walk another rod. Forrest 
then told one of his men to take him back to 
the wagon train and let him ride. The man 
did so, and gave him a six-mule team to drive. 
The wagon was full of rebels who had fallen 
sick during the campaign. But a great mistake 
was made in trusting this charge to the Drum- 
mer-boy; for as the train moved at a very 
rapid rate he took special delight in running 
over all the rough places in the road, and after 
a time, coming to a deep creek over which 
was a bridge without a railing, he purposely 
ran the wagon off, capsizing the sick rebels 
into the stream, compelling them to swim out, 
and greatly endangering the lives of some few 
who could not swim. He then pretended the 



mules had become unruly and that he could 
not help the accident, and furthermore that he 
had injured one of his limbs so he could not 
walk, and altogether seemed to feel very badly 
over the occurrence. The sick rebels having all 
been rescued, were put into another wagon — 
the former one having been w^ell broken to 
pieces — but they would not consent that the 
Drummer-boy should drive any longer, and so 
he was put upon a very quaint-looking, antedi- 
luvian steed which must have borne a very 
striking family resemblance to Orpheus C. Kerr's 
famous Pegasus. While he was thus journeying 
on, the rebels talked with him and frightened 
him by saying they should send him to a 
Southern prison and keep him during the war, 
because he ran the wagon off the bridge, and 
killed one of their colonels in the street at 


Murfreesboro. He stoutly persisted that the for- 
mer was an accident, and that he did not 
do the latter at all. They however declared 
they saw him do it, and told him if he would 
tell them all about it, own it, be frank and 
honest, they would let him go. So, taking the 
rebels at their word, he minutely related the 
whole affair. His story concluded, they gave 
him his liberty by placing him inside an armed 
guard who kept close watch over him until 
they camped for supper just at night. A part 
of the wagons were unloaded, and among the 
rubbish that strewed the ground — captured pro- 
perty — he saw his old drum, the one with 
which he had sounded the long roll that very 
morning. He asked one of the guards if he 
might lie down by the pile they had unloaded 
and sleep a little while. The request was 


granted, and witli joy in his heart he lay close 
beside his dear lost treasure and soon fell 
asleep. Upon awaking he found it was raining, 
and that all his comrades had been moved over 
into an adjoining field. He saw also that he 
was alone, while a solitary guard, whose beat 
was full five rods long, kept watch and ward 
over him and the property. Soon the rain 
descended in torrents, and the night clouded 
into Cimmerian gloom. 

The mind of our hero was greatly disturbed 
by the threats made against him during the 
day, the putting a guard around him, and the 
fact that now he was kept separated from his 
companions in arms. Strange alarms seized him, 
and he fancied himself rotting in a Southern 
prison, hanging on a gibbet, or standing against 
a tree, the target for a shot. Not relishing any 


sucli possible fates as these, lie determined to 
escape. So wlieu, by the sx3lash, splash of the 
sentry's feet he knew he was at the further 
end of his beat, he noiselessly lifted his drum, 
then rolled it before him and cautiously crept, 
foot by foot, to a fence which, in the day- 
time, he had observed ran along in the rear 
of the wagons, and beyond which were many 
bushes and some trees. He soon reached the 
fence. He first attempted to crawl through it, 
but could not ; he then climbed it, but it 
creaked and made a noise. He thought now 
he was surely ruined, and expected that instant 
to hear the gruff " halt " of the sentry, and 
perchance, feel the contents of his gun. He sat 
for a moment or two, motionless as a statue ; 
but hearing no commotion, lowered his drum to 
the ground and descended himself. He then 


crept in the same way upon his hands and 
knees through the mud and wet grass, over the 
rocks and through the bushes for more than 
half a mile. Then he walked on .utterly igno- 
rant whither. At last, in the darkness, he 
blundered into a spring, upsetting several pans 
of milk which the good people in the house 
close by had placed in and around it to keep 
cool. The terrible racket they made, at first 
startled him. Hearing no alarm he grew bolder, 
and groping about, found other pans, and drank 
sweet milk to the verge of his capacity. Pos- 
sessed with that spirit of spite which seems to 
animate all soldiers, he emptied the rest and 
proceeded on his way. At length, feeling very 
tired and sore, he concealed himself in some 
bushes and slept until morning. He then found 
out by some negroes that he was, near the 



Murfreesboro road, and that he had come in 
the right direction during the night. So, having 
gained the road, and not caring to go alone, 
he lay down behind the fence and waited the 
return of his comrades when they should have 
been paroled. They, came at last, and he rushed 
from his hiding place to join them. They all 
thouo;ht he was a rebel, and indeed he was a 
pitiable sight. His clothes were no longer blue, 
but reddish brown in color, owing to his great 
familiarity with the mud through which he had 
crawled and so frequently lain down. In due 
time they * reached Murfreesboro, and at once 
inquiries were made by the citizens about the 
Diummer-boy. Several saw him and looked 
daggers at him, evincing clearly a determination 
to kill him should they ever have a chance. 
Robert felt that it was too warm a country 



for him, aud hastened on to Nashville in advance 
of the ]'eo;iment, and there awaited its comiuo-. 
It was ordered by Gen. Buell to " Camp 
Chase," Columbus, Ohio, to await exchange. On 
arriving at Cincinnati these paroled men were 
treated as if they were rebels. Another regi- 
ment guarded them through the city, keeping 
every man in the ranks ; and little Robert having 
once left the ranks, one of the guards exclaimed, 
" Come back, or I'll shoot you ! " and he, greatly 
enraged at this treatment, retorted, " Shoot a 
small boy like me if you want to." The guard 
did not shoot, but he pricked him with the 
point of his bayonet and made him return to 
the ranks. Now, the reason why these men 
were thus strictly guarded was, not because of 
any spite against them, but because being par- 
oled ,prisoners of war they might attempt to go 



to their homes without proper authority, and 
some of them might embrace the opportunity to 

A week of semi-prison life in " Camp Chase " 
made our young hero homesick, and he applied for 
a discharge from the service, which was readily 
granted, and 'he was speedily returned to his 
mother. It never cost him anything to travel, 
for he was always j)assed by the conductor or 
engineer. On this homeward trip he rode with 
the engineer, and had the misfortune, while . on 
the way to Cleveland, of meeting with one of 
those accidents which so frequently occur in our 
country, in which engine, baggage and passen- 
gers are piled together in one common ruin, 
and by which scores of people, good and bad, 
are hurried out of the world without a moment 
of warning. In this affair some of the passengers 


were killed, and many others wounded and 
"bruised. The engineer escaped unhurt, the fire- 
man with a broken leg, and our Drummer with 
a badly injured head and shoulders. While on 
the road from Cleveland to Jackson some ladies 
took a great fancy to him, talked with him a 
great deal, and said they had heard of the brave 
deeds of the little Drummer-boy of the Ninth 
Michigan, and even went so far as to show their 
appreciation of him by oft-repeated kisses. He, 
though daring as a youthful Chevalier Bayard in 
the field of Mars, was excessively modest in the 
presence of so many ladies, and the attentions 
he received nearly overwhelmed him. Although 
by no means displeased with these little kind- 
nesses, he was, nevertheless, truly grateful when 
they had surfeited their admiration and left him 
alnne in his glory. 


Robekt's inotLer received Inm most affectionately, 
and imprinted kiss after kiss upon his lips, for 
with all his faults — faults wliicli the war had 
generated — she dearly loved him. Besides, he 
was to her as one newly risen from the dead, 
for she had heard once that he had been killed, 
and again that he had died from fever, and a 
third time that he had been taken a prisoner 
and died in the hands of the rebels. And the 
poor woman actually showed her son letters 
from different parties setting forth these facts, 
one further stating that he had been captured 
by the rebels and shot for killing one of their 
colonels at Murfreesboro. 


It was midsummer when lie returned — in the 
last days of July — long days, blazing sunshine, 
fervid heat. A feeling of intense laziness stole 
over him, and he dreaded moving or doing. It 
had been hot weather enough in Tennessee, but 
it seemed hotter just then in Michigan. A 
perfect ennui possessed him, and he knew not 
what to do with himself. His mother had ex- 
acted a promise from him that he would go 
into the army no more, and she told him if 
he did she would follow him. AVhat should he 
do ? His life for the past year, nearly, had 
been full of adventure. He had seen a great 
deal of country and many new people. He was 
now impatient to be going ; his soul thirsted 
for new excitements ; his mind longed to em- 
brace more of the world, to experience still 
further conflicts with its masses, its rough cor- 



ners, that thereby the boy might develop into 
the man, strong, experienced, symmetrical, with 
a full knowledge of the right and the wrong — 
firm in purpose to do the one and shun the 

It were wrong to retard such a development ; 
and it was very clear that such a will as his 
could brook no restraint if it once wished to 
be free. 

In a day or two he visited the Union school 
to see his little playmates, and the teacher in- 
troduced him to all the scholars as the " Drum- 
mer-boy of the Mnth Michigan." At recess he 
shook hands with all the children and then 
bade them good-bye, saying he was going to 
the war again. Whence came this resolution ? 
What hidden spring had been so suddenly 
touched ? What unseen hand had now swept 


across his fancy, impelling his ambitious nature 
so soon to leave mother, and friends, and again 
go among strangers ? 

He returned home from the school and entered 
into a long and pleasant conversation with his 
mother, telling her the many things that had 
happened to him since he went away, filling 
her bosom with a joyous pride, when suddenly 
the shrill whistle of the western train greeted 
his ear, and he abruptly ended the conversation 
by saying, "Mother, I'll just run over to the 
depot and see the cars come in!" The train 
arrived, and he again left home for Detroit 
without bidding his mother farewell. Again was 
her heart wrung with grief when she learned 
that her son had thus left her. He wandered 
around the city, until finally coming to the foot 
of Jefferson Avenue, he noticed a recruiting ofiice 


in tlie charge of a Captain Hogan, and after a 
little conversation with him, enlisted as a Drum- 
mer-boy in the Eighth Michigan Infantry. This 
regiment was already in the service, and ■ was 
attached to the Army of the Potomac. And thus 
had he broken the pledge made his mother, 
that he would not go into the army any more. 
Not willfully and maliciously did he grieve his 
mother : it was an innate something, a panting 
for army life, its excitements and glories, that 
impelled him to it. And afterwards, when taken 
to task about it, he laughingly replied, " that 
promises to stay at home were not good in 
time of war." Within a week after his enlist- 
ment he heard that his mother was coming for 
him, and determined not to be captured, he 
adopted the course of many of our weak-kneed 
countrymen, who were fearful of the draft, and 



fled to Canada, where lie remained a full week. 
On his retm'n to Detroit, he was arrested by 
the guard as a deserter, and placed in confine- 
ment. Captain Hogan, hearing of his arrest, 
called to see him, listened to his story, and 
then took him to Colonel Smith, the Post Com- 
mandant, who, upon learning the reason for his 
running away, released him. He was then fur- 
nished with a drum, and he, with another boy and 
a fifer, played daily at the office, " drumming 
up recruits." Captain Hogan treated our hero 
very kindly, giving him many little comforts 
and licenses, and he in turn formed a strong 
attachment for that officer. 

About the 1st of September, Captain Hogan 
was ordered to the Potomac with some men. 
Robert desired to accomjDany him, but was 
persuaded to remain as di'ummer at the offi c 


until his return, whicli lie said would be in 
from two to three weeks. 

Meantime another officer, a Second Lieutenant, 
was i3ut in charge of the station. Robert did 
not like him, and the dislike soon became 
mutual. This man was the very oj^posite of 
Captain Hogan, and was a worthless fellow, who, 
" clothed in a little brief authority," grossly 
abused his men, and spent the greater portion 
of his time in carousing and drinking. Every 
one who had the misfortune to be under him 
hated him, and Ilol)ert plainly told him once, 
that " he was not fit to command a Corporal's 
guard of dogs." He scolded the little drummer 
corps because they did not play every minute 
in the day, and threatened to put them in the 
guard-house if they did not salute him every 
time he passed them. Robert, smarting under 



this servitude, was determined to " pay him off," 
as he expressed it, at the first opportunity. So, 
one day noticing that officer in a crowd of 
people, and seeing that he was sober (which 
was a rare thing), he stepped into the circle, 
and upon being ordered away very insolently 
by the man of such exalted rank and conse- 
quence, full of madness and venom, he retorted : 

" You think you are a great man^ but you 
are only a Second Lieutenant. You have abused 
and insulted- me just as long as you can; and 
if you don't stop it I will run away." 

This enraged the man terribly, and seizing 
the boy who had thus so publicly denounced 
and defied him, he dragged him into his office 
and demanded him to take back what he had 
said. Robert, full of pluck, and feeling that he 
had simply spoken the truth, replied, "No, sir, 


never, never ^ so long as I live." He tlien threat- 
ened to put him in the guard-house, and went 
out for that purpose, but soon returned, saying 
he had changed his mind, and that if he did 
not take back his saucy, impudent words, he 
would give him a good whipping. Robert 
laughed to scorn this threat, and said, " You 
may whip me to death, if you dare to, Mr. 
Lieutenant, but I'll never take it back; besides, 
you dare not whip me, and you canH do it 
either." Then the man slapped him very hard 
in the face and made him cry with pain. Some 
person coming in at this juncture, the affair 
ended. The poor boy went out and told the 
soldiers what had happened, and they all heartily 
cursed the brute, and advised him to run away. 
That night he stole down to the wharf and 
found a steamboat which was to leave for Sagi- 



naw in an hour. He got permission to go, and 
soon after hired out to the saloon-keeper as bar- 
tender. Arrived in Saginaw, he saw one of his 
older brothers and told him what he was doing. 
He promptly wrote his mother and she replied, 
directing him to be sent home. The letter came 
too late, how^ever, for the truant was back again 
in Detroit, where he had fallen into other hands. 
By some means it had Ijeen ascertained that 
Robert was on this boat, and the instant it 
touched the landing he was again arrested for 
a deserter and put in prison. Colonel Smith 
was a second time his friend, and upon learning 
that he had run away because of the recruiting 
officer's abuse, he was set free and returned to 
his former duty as Drummer. Nor was this all. 
The Lieutenant was placed under arrest for 
abusing his men, tried, and dismissed the service. 




And thus what was his loss became the country's 

In another week CajDtain Hogan returned, and 
all passed j^leasantly. About the 1st of October 
Chaplain Taylor, of the Eighth Michigan, came 
to take charge of a number of men, recruited 
for that and other regiments in the Potomac 
army, and Robert wished to go with him. He 
asked Captain Hogan' s consent. He replied : 
"No, I wish you to stay here to drum." 

Robert did not relish this, and said : "I don't 
want to stay here any more. I am tired of it. 
I enlisted for the Eighth Michigan, and I want 
to go where it is : and I ivill go, too." 

The Captain merely responded, " I will see 
about that," and went to get a guard to put 
over him for safe keeping. 

The boy, divining his purpose, ran to Colonel 


Smitli and asked him if lie could not go to 
the front with Chaplain Taylor, and he assented. 
Oveijoyed at his success, he hastened to the 
camp and told the soldiers that he was going" 
with them. But his enthusiasm was dampened 
when Captain Hogan appeared with a guard 
and said, mildly, but firmly, " Come, my boy, 
I will see if you will go when I say noT 
Robert persisted that Colonel Smith said he 
could go. The Cai)tain hardly believed it, and 
ordered the guard to take him. After quite a 
struggle they secured and carried him (as he 
would not walk) to the guard-house. The next 
morning he was released and (Erected to ren- 
dezvous in the camp with the other men. 

Another week elapsed, and then came the 
order to go. Eobert was pleased, for he longed 
again to see the army, and just before leaving 



the city lie wrote Ms mother that he had en- 
listed and in an hour would be on his way. 
Fortunately, Kobert was acquainted with the 
chaplain, and was glad to be placed in his charge. 
He was an excellent man, and very attentive to 
the wants of his men. His little protege says 
of him, "He is as good a man as I ever came 



Soon the cars whirled away, and his home, 
his friends, his own noble State, were all left 
far behind him, and perhaps forever. 

CHAPTER yill. 

Iisr due season Washington city, with its mag- 
nificent marhle capitol, glowing with the purity 
of alabaster in the morning sunlight, came to 
view. Robert thought that nothing in the wide 
world could equal in grandeur this beautiful 
structure. As he stood upon the platform of 
the car, his soul drinking in the gorgeousness 
of the scene, he fell to the ground badly injured 
and narrowly escaping death. He had fallen in 
a fit, from which he did not recover under an 
hour. Then he seemed all right. Mr. Taylor, 
the kind chaplain, attended him closely, and 
when he was recovered asked him if he did 
not wish to return to Detroit. With a brave 


heart lie said, "No, sir, I have started for the 
regiment and I wish to join it." 

The men were placed in comfortable barracks, 
and awaited an order for transportation. Some 
three weeks thus passed away, they getting very 
impatient at the delay ; but the War Depart- 
ment and its sub-officials were in no hurry then 
more than now, and it is questionable if any 
event, however important or startling, short of 
the presence of an armed enemy, could disturb 
the red-taped punctilio of that august power. 

Our hero, however, was delighted. He saw 
much to please him, and spent days in rambling 
th?'ough the Capitol, around the docks of the 
navy yard, and through the extensive grounds 
around the President's house, embellished with 
fountains, lawns, terraces, avenues, and well- 
gravelled serpentine walks. And he frequently 


entered tlie White House, looked into the famous 
East Room, and watched with a feeling of awe 
the hosts of people who daily ascended the stair- 
case to seek interviews with that great and 
good man, Mr. Lincoln. Here, too, our . hero 
made the acquaintance of "Little Tad," as he 
is familiarly called, and used to amuse him 
greatly by drumming for him. And even Mr. 
Lincoln noticed him several times and smiled 
upon him and remarked he was very small for 
a Drummer-boy. 

At last it was decided that the men whom 
Mr. Taylor had brought to "Washington, should 
remain, and go in company with a large mass 
of other recruits to be shipped in a few days. 
So, keeping Robert still in his charge, he de- 
parted for the regiment. It was a beautiful, 
yet clt ar, cold day, near the middle of Novem- 


ber, wlien, stepping on a steamer already crowded 
witli soldiers, at the foot of Seventh Street, 
Robert found himself gliding down the Potomac. 
His youthful heart was fired with enthusiasm. 
In the little geography which he had studied 
while at school, much was said about this river 
and the hallowed associations connected with it. 
Opposite Washington was Alexandria, henceforth 
memoral)le for the dastardly assasination of the 
youthful and chivalrous Colonel Ellsworth. Ra- 
pidly they passed the navy yard, and the 
anchorage ground of the British fleet, when the 
British troops disembarked and destroyed our 
former Capitol building, losing to history and 
the world most precious records. Farther down 
the river was the ancient manorial estate of 
Mount Vernon, where the "Father of our Coun- 
try," the immortal Washington, lived, died, and 


was buried. And they recollected, too, that it was 
here Lafayette, who had served our country so 
well, near half a century after Independence 
Day, descended into the tomb of his illustrious 
chieftain and for an hour remained alone, thinking 
of the glorious past and weeping over its sad- 
dening memories. Can a thought of AVashington 
do otherwise than inspire us with a nobler, 
purer and holier love for America, her unity, 
prosperity and peace ! 

Upon reaching Ac(pia Creek, the point of 
disembarkation, the steamer grounded in trying 
to land. Small boats were used, and after a 
time its great load of living, human freight 
was safely put ashore. Many, alas ! then trod 
Viro;inian soil for the last time, and never asj jn 
would joyfull}^ hasten homewards, away towards 
the sun-setting. 


The Army of tlie Potomac lay up tlie Rap- 
pahannock, and opposite Fredericksburg. Tliitker- 
ward the chaplain and his little protege started 
on foot. At length growing weary, and seeing 
a horse which had been abandoned, but which 
was now busily engaged in eking out a very 
doubtful subsistence, the chaplain proposed to 
catch him, and then each one take his turn in 
riding the noble brute. Robert at once ran to 
carry out the suggestion, and after quite a chase, 
being more fleet of foot than his companions, 
caught him. And thus they journeyed on, until 
coming to a very pleasant spot, they stopped 
to rest, and accidentally falling asleep, awakened 
to find their four-footed companion a deserter. 
So, footsore and lame, they moved slowly on, 
trusting to reach some camp where they could 
both rest and satisfy the wants of the inner 


man. Meeting a dilapidated piece of mechanism, 
termed by the negroes " a white trash," they 
asked the distance to Fredericksburg. He replied 
that it was "a right smart piece," but how 
far he did not know. With this satisfactory 
information they j^ushed ahead and finally came 
to a camp, and it was hailed mth as much 
delight as are the oases of the desert by the 
hahf-dying traveler who for days, has wandered 
over its treacherous sands. Here they were wel- 
comed to a comrade's fare. They ate heartily 
of hard-tack and fried pork, slept sweetly and 
refreshingly on a blanket spread upon the ground, 
and in the solace they then received the past 
was all forgotten and the future all unthought of. 
The camp of the -Eighth Michigan Infantry 
was gained at last, and then followed a respite 
for a season. Robert was sent by the Colonel 



to the Drum-major of the regiment, and was 
assigned by liim as Drummer for Company B, 
commanded by Captain Lewis. Our hero soon 
became generally acquainted with everybody in 
his regiment, and in a few days knew every 
General in the Mnth Army Corps. 

There was another little Drummer-boy, a year 
his senior, to whom he became greatly attached. 
They would go out into the woods, and for 
hours play together. They loved one another 
greatly, and gladdened each other in the com- 
munion of their thoughts, as the sunshine lends 
brightness to the clouds. But alas! like all of 
earth's loves and friendships, this one, too, was 
doomed to be blasted. A bullet from one of 
the enemy's sharpshooters accomplished its fatal 
mission, and all that was spiritual and noble of 
his "dear, good. God-fearing companion," as he 



calls him, passed from eartli to tlie realms of 
never-ending bliss. For a while a shadow rested 
on the heart of Robert; but the excitements of 
camp — constant skirmishing, arrival of new troops, 
terrible cannonades — finally swept it away; and 
a ray of hope stole down into the depths of 
his soul, all faint and quivering, but, nevertheless, 
a hope that he might not be killed, but live 
once more to see home and mother. 

Soon after his arrival, he was taken sick and 
lay in the hospital a week, during which time 
he took the usual allotment of quinine and opium. 
And once after this he was sick. One day he 
went down to a spring to get some water for 
cooking purposes, when he was seized with a fit, 
and fell into the mud and water around it. 
The boys in his Company, after waiting for some 
time for the water, went to the spring, found 



him still insensible, and took him to the hospital, 
where he lay for seven days before he thoroughly 
recovered from the prostration. For a time 
all was well. But a day was near at hand, 
between the rising and setting of whose sun 
would be witnessed a more desperate battle than 
had yet occurred in the Potomac Army. 


On the 5tli of November, 1862, General A. E. 
Burnside superseded General McClellan in the, 
command of the Army of the Potomac. The 
famous Peninsular campaign of the latter had 
proved a failure, and the Government and the 
people were clamorous for a change. McClellan, 
under positive orders from the President, had 
again moved his army towards the enemy, and 
had established his headquarters at Warrenton 
when relieved from command. Ten days aftei-, 
Burnside broke camp, and, by a rapid march, 
pushed forward to Fredericksburg with the in- 
tention of capturing that place before Lee could 
join it with his main army, thereby cutting off 



his retreat to Riclimond, and forcing him, if 
possible, to a decisive battle on the field. 

But the authorities at Washington were to 
send forward a series of pontoon trains so the 
army could cross the Rappahannock. These, 
however, were delayed, and consequently Burnside 
lay idly on the banks of the river until near 
the middle of December. Meantime Lee accom- 
plished all that Burnside had aimed to prevent, 
and now, although the odds of battle were 
desperate, still the Federal General resolved to 
attack the enemy, and confound him by the 
boldness of a direct assault. 

Fredericksburg is situated on the Rappahan- 
nock, and on quite level ground. The country 
back of the town rises in a succession of ter- 
raced heights, upon which the rebel army lay — 
a heavy force — in strongly intrenched lines, and 



to assail which the Federal troops must be 
exposed to a murderous fire of cannon and 
musketry while climbing the long open slopes. 
For two days previous to the battle, all was 
bustle and excitement on the banks of the 
Rappahannock. Great masses of troops were 
moving to and fro, the pontoons were dragged 
to the river's edge, and the sullen booming of 
long rows of cannon presaged a conflict, terrible 
and grand. Thursday witnessed one of the most 
fearful bombardments that occurred during the 
war. A large number of rebel sharpshooters 
lined the Fredericksburg bank, and by their 
deadly fire had successfully resisted Burnside's 
efforts to lay his pontoons, over which the army 
must cross to attack Lee's position. To dislodge 
these was the first task. One hundred and 
seventy-nine cannon opened instantaneously on the 


fated town, and continuously tlirougli all tlie 
day and the following night they vomited forth 
shot and shell, carrying consternation to thou- 
sands of hearts, killing and wounding numberless 
others. It was early morn when this bombard- 
ment began. The city was shrouded in a dense 
fog, being imperceptible save here and there 
where a church spire towered loftily through it. 
Soon the earth shook with heavy rumblings — 
the reverberations of the "deep-mouthed dogs of 
war" — and great clouds of smoke, sulphurous 
and choking, rolled heavenward, commingled with 
bursts of sheeted flame which ascended through 
the sea of mist, proclaiming too surely the 
destruction dealt below. Near noon the fog lifted 
and drifted away, disclosing the city half in 
flames. And Headley says, " When the blood- 
red sun w^ent down in the hazy sky, it shed a 


lurid light on field and river, and frowning 
heights, and miles of quiet tents." And another 
writer says, "As the air darkened, the red 
flashes of the guns gave a new effect to the 
scene — the roar of each report Toeing preceded 
by a fierce dart of flame, while the explosion 
of each shell was announced by a gush* of fire 
in the clouds. Towering between us and the 
western sky, which was still showing its faded 
scarlet lining, was the huge, sombre pillar of 
grimy smoke that marked the burning of Fred- 
ericksburg. Ascending to a vast height, it bore 
away northward, shaped like a plume bowed in 
the wind." 

But all this cannonade failed to accomplish 
the desired end. The guns could not be suffi- 
ciently depressed to drive out the sharpshooters, 
and now they must be dislodged by, some other 


means. Robert, " our Drummer-boy," had mani- 
fested a great interest in this undertaking, and 
had hung around the pontoons all day, greatly 
excited, and longing to participate in the fray. 
Long before morning of that day the rebels 
had startled our camps by firing a shell which 
burst within a few feet of the Drummer's tent. 
Robert sprang from his bed and beat the "long 
roll," with a vim which brought the regiment 
to arms instantly. But finding that it was only 
a rebel gun over the river, the men went to 
quarters and slept undisturbed until six o'clock 
the next morning. Then they were ordered 
down to a position near the pontoons, where 
they were to perform guard duty for the day. 
This was too tame business for our young hero, 
so strapping on his drum and pistols, he hastened 
down to the contested point of passage, where 


the Seventli Michigan and the Nineteenth and 
Twentieth Massachusetts regiments lay, arms 
stacked, awaiting orders from the commanding 

Burnside having resorted to every device pos- 
sible to disperse the rebel annoyance secretly 
posted in the houses, and behind rifle-pits, and 
heaps of rubbish, at last called for volunteers to 
man the pontoons and effect a lodgement by 
rowing across the river. His great heart bled 
at the thought of the saciifice thus to be made, 
but fate was imperative that something must be 
done. The Seventh Michigan, with a shout, 
clear and resonant with a courage which foretold 
success, responded to the General's appeal. In 
ten boats, each holding twenty-five to thirty-two 
men, they pulled straight on through the volleys 
of leaden hail which the rebels poured upon 



them, and reached the opposite shore. The two 
Massachusetts regiments, inspired with equal 
heroism, followed, and the three together in a 
grand charge routed the rebels from their hiding 
places, killing and wounding many, and putting 
the rest to flight. Three bridges were now 
quickly laid, and soon shook under the tread 
of the Union host. 

And where was our Drummer-boy during all 
this fiery ordeal? When the call was made for 
volunteers, and the Seventh so gallantly responded, 
he was the first to shout, "I will," and the 
foremost one in the boats. The Captain in 
charge of the Company in this boat, seeing the 
boy with his di'um slung to his back, ordered 
him out, telling him he was too small for such 
business, and that he would surely be killed. 
The reply of the brave lad was noble — Spartan 



in expression, and a trutliful echo of tlie heart- 
throbs of the chivali'ous crew that surrounded 
him. Standing up in the further end of the 
boat, swelling to his fullest height, he exclaimed, 
"I do not care if . I am killed ; I am willing 
to die for my country." The soldiers with him 
could not bear the idea of one so young as he 
falling a needless victim in this dangerous enter- 
prise, and the Captain's orders were imperative, 
so deeply chagrined he hastened ashore. But a 
new idea flashed through his mind. With his 
face brightening up, he asked the Cajotain if 
he might help push the boat off. And he, not 
thinking of the ruse the boy was playing, said, 
" Yes, if it will please you." So when all was 
ready he pushed the boat off and let it drag 
him into the river, he clinging with his hands 
to the edge, and in this way he crossed the 


river. More than half the men in this boat 
were killed before touching shore, and so it was 
with those who came after. As Eobert climbed 
up the river's bank, his drum was struck by a 
piece of broken shell and torn to pieces. This 
enraged him, and he seized a musket belonging 
to one of his comrades who had been shot 
close beside him, and went into a house near 
by, where he encountered a tall, gaunt looking 
rebel just loading his gun. Robert brought his 
gun to a ready, and ordered him to surrender. 
The gray-coat threw down his gun and cried 
out : " Don't shoot : I surrender." He then 
marched him back to the river, and found the 
first pontoon just completed. The Seventh 
Michigan seeing the boy and his prize, grew 
wild with excitement, and gave three rousing 
cheers for the "Drummer-boy of the Rappahan- 


nock." Just tlieii and tliere was tliis title ac- 
quired. It was a proud one for the little hero, 
and it was deservedly his. Several asked him 
if he wished help to guard his prisoner. He 
replied, " No ; I am enough for him." All the 
way across the bridge and up the bank to the 
guard of the Seventh Michigan, where he left 
the captured rebel, he was cheered vociferously 
by the passing troops. And General Burnside, 
flushed with pride at the daring and gallant 
action of the boy, exclaimed, "Boy, I glory in 
your spunk; if you keep on in this way a few 
more years, you will be in my place." Having 
delivered his charge, he returned again to the 
Seventh Michigan. Every where he seemed sud- 
denly known to all ; and never was actor greeted 
with more hearty plaudits from never so excited 
an auditorium. 


The three regiments were now prepared to 
charge through the city, and our hero, burning 
with the fire of a freshly kindled ambition, 
took his place in the ranks, ready for more 
glory or death in the doing. And when the 
cry resounded along the line, Forward^ Forwakd, 
onward rushed the " boys in blue " with 
irresistible force and purpose, while the rebels, 
astonished and dumbfounded, popped up from 
their hiding-places and sought safety away up 
the terraced heights where Lee himself, secure 
behind his treble line of ramparts, grimly sur- 
veyed the scene below. Reaching the summit 
of the first terrace, stout opposition was made, 
and the din of warfare raged furiously — but the 
contest was unequal and could be of no more 
avail than the heaving of the sea-billows against 
the rock-bound coast, ^till spirit was evinced, 


a determined and reckless daring displayed, 
which might well make the rebel host feel that 
when the real battle should commence the 
struggle would be desperate. In this spirited 
affair our Drummer was struck near the knee 
by a minnie ball; but it being merely a flesh- 
wound, he stopped not. Among the foremost, 
he once got mixed with the rebels, and they 
gaining a temporary advantage, he found him- 
self virtually a prisoner. His tactical shrewdness 
again assisted him out of the difficulty. Tumb- 
ling down on the ground, right in the midst 
of mud and blood, he seemed to be dead, and 
so very quiet did he keep that several rebels 
gazed upon him and called him dead, remarking 
that " he was mighty young and mighty small 
for a soldier, and that he must have had a 
right smart of pluck, and that it was a pity 

THE rappahaitnoce:. 147 

he was dead." Soon they were forced back by 
a renewed assault from our troops, and the rebels 
were astonished to see him soon after rolling 
down the slope to the Federal line. Again the 
hills resounded with cheers for the Drummer-boy, 
and his escape was considered miraculous. After 
wiping the blood away from his wound, and 
bandaging it, he went down into the city ramb- 
ling among the smoking ruins and going through 
several of the houses left standing, in search of 
relics. Among other prizes which he bore away, 
was a large clock. This he took to his own 
regiment. His comrades all cheered him as he 
trudged into camp with his load, and some 
laughed at him immoderately, others said they 
heard he had made a hero of himself and been 
killed as a penalty for it. He received their 
jokes complacently, told them all about his part 


h the affair, and wound up by declaring tliat 
" the rebel bullet was not made yet to kill him." 
Ihey then complimented him for his bravery, 
aitd told him that he had won glory enough 
fcr one day and that he had better stay with 
tl em. Still excited and flushed with the proud 
n^'me he had that day gained, he heeded not 
t) is advice, but again crossed the river, and 
tl is time brought back as a trophy a very rich 
pi k Confederate flag. He now cooled down 
s' me what, the excitement which had nerved him 
p-.vssed away, and the reaction, so prostrating, 
s( weakening, set in, and in a few hours after 
he was in bed with a high fever. And thus 
ei ds his share in the great battle of Fred- 
eilcksburg. And it was enough for so young a 
boy, now but thirteen. His fame was a golden 
one, and the news of his exploits flashed all 



over tlie land on the liglitning-wing of the 
electric wire. The public press teemed with 
glowing articles on the display of such heroism 
and daring, and pointed the moral that, our 
country teeming with boys in whose bosoms 
were germinant the same seeds of patriotic de- 
votion, could never be conquered by a rebel or 
a foreign power, and gloriously re-echoed with 
all the enthusiasm incident to a Fourth of July 
anniversary, the sentiment, " That there is hope 
still for America ! " 

The country alas ! knows too well, too sadly 
well, how vain was the valor displayed by our 
troops on the 13th of December, when the grand 
assault was made and proved so signally a 
failure. Death held high carnival all that day 
in front of the rebel position. Not a rebel 
work was taken ; not a rebel gun was captured ; 




but near twenty thousand of our brave 
strewed tlie terraces, the plateaus and the streets 
of the city. For two days after this, cannon- 
ading was kept up, and the rebels led to believe 
that the assault would be repeated; but on 
Monday night, the 15th instant, the entire army 
quietly, silently withdrew, the pontoons were 
taken up, and the campaign ended. 


Three weeks after the battle of Fredericksburg 
Robert was again discharged for disability on 
account of sickness. Whither should he go now ? 
What should he do? The record of the past 
was all-glorious. His dreams of the future were 
strange and perplexing. They shifted and ran 
into each other like the showman's dissolving 
views ; but it was some time before he could 
definitely decide where to go — whether it were 
better to return to Michigan, home and mother, 
or to the great city of New York — a place 
which his fancy had dressed out as full of high- 
roofed buildings, crowded and packed into im- 
penetrable closeness, and whose people were all 



overflowing with the riches and products brought 
by the great ships from all parts of the world. 
Finally he decided on visiting the great 
metropolis of America — the London of the new 
world. In company with some oflicers going 
home on leaves of absence, he arrived in New 
York. Taking an omnibus to the Astor House, 
he registered his name as "Robert Henry Hen- 
dershot, the Drummer-boy of the Rappahannock." 
The landlord observing it, said to bim, "Are 
you the Hendershot, the Drummer-boy of whom 
we have read so much in the papers lately ? " 
He replied, "Yes, sir, I suppose I am. I have 
heard my name has been in the papers con- 
siderably." Then a crowd of people gathered 
around and shook his hand and praised him 
greatly for the. gallantry he had displayed, and 
for the good name he had won in the war of 


the rebellion ; all of which was very flattering 
to the youthful hero, and may, perhaps, have 
made him a little vain. 

That night, too, a great meeting was held at 
the Cooper Institute and he was taken there 
by some of his admiring friends, and was pub- 
licly introduced by the chairman of the meeting 
to the great sea of people crowded within its 
halls. The vast audience gave him a hearty 
cheer, which resounded in deafening echoes around 
its spacious halls. Winfield Scott, too, was 
there — that veteran and honored chieftain now 
no more — and he was introduced to him. The 
General shook his hand warmly, patted him 
upon the head, told him he was a little hero, 
and advised him to resist temptation — not to 
swear, drink or smoke ; but in all things learn 

I to be a man. His youthful heart was touched 



with the impressive manner in wliicli the General 
addressed him, and his wot'ds of counsel sank 
deep into his heart. The meeting over, another 
hand-shaking was endured, and a great many 
ladies kissed him. 

Returning to the Astor House, he was again 
beset by a crowd eager to see him, and it 
was some time before he could escape. And to 
their shame be it said, many that night tempted 
him to both drink and smoke ; but he heeded 
well the advice of the old General. He was 
taken around the city, and to all the newspaper 
offices and introduced to the editors, and again 
the countiy was fired with pride for the boy 
who was so brave 

"By bloody Rappahannock's side." 

Our public orators roused the war spirit in our 
people by dilating on the splendor of his daring 


deeds. The clergy commended in glowing terms 
his behavior in the cause of country, and coun- 
seled an equally persistent spirit in the soldier 
of the Cross. The " Tribune Association " treated 
him with marked kindness, and informed him 
that they would present him with a new and 
much nicer drum — a drum of silver, as compen- 
sation for the wooden one he had lost at 

Poesy, too, contributed her share towards the 
full meed of praise deserved by the little Drum- 
mer-boy; and many a contribution to the public 
journals, perfect in beauty of language and grace 
of thought — full of passion and fervor — aided in 
moulding and developing that lofty patriotism, 
that sense of self-sacrifice which brought into 
the field "six hundred thousand more," and 
finally, under gallant and safe leadership, saved 



our country to the cause of freedom, of justice, 
and of God ! Here is one of the excellent 
written hj one of our sweetest poets, 


George W. Bungay : 


The drummer with his drum, 
Shouting ' ' Come ! heroes, come ! 

Forward march, nigher, nigher 1" 
TThen the veterans turned pale, 
And the bullets fell like hail, 
In that hurricane of fire 
Beat his drum. 
Shouting " Come I 
' Come I come ! come I" 
And the fife, 
In the strife, 
Joined the drum, drum, drum — 
And the fifer with liia fife and the drummer with his drum, 
Were heard above the strife and the bursting of the bomb. 
The bursting of the bomb, 
Bomb, bomb, bomb. 

THE eappahan:^ock. 157 

Clouds of smoke hung like a pall 
Over tent and dome and hall ; 
Hot shot and blazing bomb 
Cut down our volunteers. 
Swept off our engineers ; 
But the drummer beat his drum, 
And he beat 
"No retreat!" 
"With his drum : 
Through the fire, 
Hotter, nigher. 
Throbbed the drum, drum, drum, - 

In that hurricane of flame and the thunder of the bomb, 
Braid the laurel wreath of fame for the hero of the drum 1 
The hero of the drum, 

Drum, drum, drum. 

Where the Eappahannock runs, 
The sulphur-throated guns, 

Poured out iron hail and fire ; 
But the heroes in the boats 
Heeded not the sulphur throats, 

Por they looked up higher, higher, 
While the drum. 


Never dumb, 

Beat, beat, beat, 
Till the oars 
Touched J;he shores, 
And the fleet feet, feet, 
Of the soldiers on the shore, with the bayonet and gun, 
Though the drum could beat no more, made the dastard rebels run. 
The dastard rebels run, 
Run, run, run. 


Among other newly formed friends who took a 
great interest in him, was the Captain of one 
of our ocean steamers, who invited him to make 
a trip to Liverpool, the second largest city in 
England. He accepted the invitation, and on 
the Saturday following bade adieu for a time 
to the soil of his birth. His trip across the 
Atlantic was very pleasant, with the exception 
of a day or so when the wind, blowing quite 
fresh, rolled the sea into great round billows, 
creating very unpleasant sensations, in other 
words sea-sickness. This over, he was full of 
enthusiasm, and learned many new things. At 
night he would stand on the quarter deck for 

hours and look up into tlie sky and admire its 
beauties. And then as he felt the impressive 
grandeur of the scene, the immensity of the 
ocean, the infinity of God, his soul flooded with 
raptures, welling from its deepest, purest springs. 
Over head was the moon, full-orbed, and mild, 
wheeling her onward flight through the heavenly 
empyrean ; and the stars — the troops of beaming, 
twinkling stars — so bright, so pure, so profuse 
in shedding their spiritual magnificence upon man 
below, that while his crude thoughts became 
purer and loftier, like the stars above him, and 
his soul, filled with a longing, unquenchable 
thirst, inspired by the purity of the majestic 
heavens, and upborne by the wings of faith, 
soared aloft and seemed to pluck from the very 
stars — those divine intelligences — that religious 
spirit which, pure and undefiled, untrammeled by 



the dogmas of sects, alone proves the soul's 
elysium — the soul's immortality. 

Around and beneath him was the sea, the 
deep-toned sea, rolling restlessly its great green 
waves, murmuring like the sea-shell the song of 
its endless toil. On its surface was reflected the 
starry host away above in heaven's azure vault, 
and as he gazed upon these, he thought the 
sea and sky were one — formed in joint com- 
munion, which no earthly power could break — 
none but that of Him who orders all things well. 
And there, too, was the ship, so symmetrical and 
so grand, to whose staunchness he had intrusted 
his life, plunging through the foam-crested waves, 
huge volumes of smoke rolling from her pipes, 
emblematic of the mighty power within her, 
and every yard of' her snowy canvas spread, 
as she speeded nobly to her far-off destination. 

Thoughts from these inspirations are positive 
and commanding. Power and love mingle in 
them. They open wide the heart, enlighten the 
understanding, and woo the affections. They 
smooth the rough corners of life, and soften its 
asperities. They become like those 

" Elegies 
And quoted odes, and jewels five words long, 
That on the stretched forefinger of all time 
Sparkle forever." 

And could such scenes, such thoughts as these, 
fail to ennoble the growing mind and heart of 
our Drummer-boy ? It was generally past mid- 
night when he retired to his state-room and 
sought the balm of slumber ; and he was up 
in the morning, refreshed as a lark, in season 
to behold the sun rise from his oriental couch, 
imparting glorious colors to the heaving sea. 



At length Cape Clear was passed, and the 
Irish Sea was entered. Soon after, with the aid 
of a glass, Caernarvon appeared sparkling like a 
ruby on the rough coast of Wales. Old Snow- 
don, too, raised aloft his hoary brow, and the 
morning sunlight bestowed upon him a blessing. 
And away in the night Rose Light was an- 
nounced, glad word to those who have tired of 
the voyage, for Liverpool lies close at hand, 
only a few miles up the Mersey. By morning 
the steamer lay along side of the quay ; and 
then came farewells among the passengers, and 
our hero came in for a goodly share (for he 
had become a favorite among them), and the 
separations — some to their homes, or the homes 
of their kindred in different parts of England 
or Scotland, and others to make a trip on the 


The Captain wlio had treated his little guest 
with great courtesy, now took him ashore, and 
introduced him to several very wealthy and in- 
fluential merchants, telling them who he was 
and what a great name he had won by his 
daring feats in the war. They in turn treated 
him like a prince, invited him to ride with them, 
and showed every thing of interest in that great 
city. He visited the great St. George's Hal], a 
truly magnificent structure, and one which, for 
completeness in design, proportion and finish, 
has but few, if any, equals. The citizens point 
with pride to this noble edifice, and exultingly, 
almost declare that it stands peerless, aye, 

, " Unapproached, unapproachable." 

The Exchange, too, shared his attention. This 
is a fine quadi-angular structure, inside of which 


is a court. This court is surrounded by a range 
of columns or porticos, witli marble pavements. 
In tlie centre stands a lofty and beautiful monu- 
ment to the immortal Nelson, resting upon a 
very heavy base, elaborately sculptured on each 
side with figures and devices of various scenes — 
the events of his life. It was he who exclaimed 
to his men as he was about engaging the enemy 
in that terrible conflict : " This day England 


hero imagined the enthusiasm which these words 
must have had upon the English tars, and he 
spontaneously uttered, " And so to-day America 


utterance, worthy so brave an American youth ! 

He also visited the spacious town hall, the 

post-office, supported in the centre by huge Ionic 

columns, the Seaman's Home, and the Zoological 


Gardens. He roamed around and tbrougli the 
gigantic docks and wareliouses, and saw the piles 
of merchandise, cotton, corn, wheat, flour, wine^ 
and the products of every clime upon which the 
sun shines. He saw the immense forest of ship- 
ping, extending as far as the eye could reach, 
carrying the flags of every nation — ships, steamers, 
tugs, lighters, and wherries. He saw the me- 
chanical establishments for the working of iron, 
copper, lead and brass — the great factories for 
the manufacture of cotton and wollen goods, 
and he felt that surely Liverpool is the New 
York of the Old World. 

The steamer was now ready to return to New 
York, and so he bade good-by to his many kind 
friends, and in the evening silently glided down 
the Mersey and gazed upon the fast-receding 
land. Soon all disappeared — the great city with 



its masts, and spires, and palaces — tlie shore 
with its villas, villages and 

"All its solemn imagery of rocka 
And woods. ' ' 

Nothing of interest transpired on the home- 
ward voyage, and our description of the outward 
trip will suffice for this. liarly in the New 
Year of 1863 he was moored safely in New 
York bay. Providence had been his guide, 
averting all troubles and dangers. O, how rap- 
turous the emotion that filled his mind upon 
the first sight of his native land, after a month 
of absence ! What scenes rushed upon his mem- 
ory! What queries pressed for answer! How 
proud he felt when he touched the shore again ! 


Upon arriving in New York our hero was heart- 
ily welcomed by his numerous friends, and for 
a few days enjoyed their hospitality. Then he 
made a flying visit home, and again astonished 
his mother by his sudden presence. She was 
deeply affected with the simple story of his ex- 
perience, and the manner in which he had been 
honored by so many distinguished citizens of the 
country; and her heart again swelled with noble 
and womanly pride as she strove to realize that 
all this fame was true. Then she thanked God 
for the protection which he had thrown over 
him and her, and that all her fears for her 
son's life and good name had been happily dis- 
pelled — by no illusive hope, but by a realization 


whicli proved Lim honest, noble and heroic. 
Many an anxious night had she passed, smother- 
ing a grief which the eye of the Omniscient 
only saw; but now her tribulations and sorrows 
were over, and her soul, serene in faith, looked 
upwards through the storm-cloud and saw the 
stars in heaven's own blue, emblematic of peace, 
and joy, and love. 

His ambitious nature was now fully aroused — 
never more to be cramped into the circumscribed 
sphere of action afforded by a country town — 
and so, after a few days spent among his nu- 
merous friends, he hastened again to New York 
to receive the drum which the " Tribune Asso- 
ciation" had promised him. 

This drum was manufactured by Wm. A. 
Pond & Co., of New York, the famous makers 
of military musical instruments, and whose drums 


and German silver fifes liave tlirobbed and piped 
on many a battle-field. 

The shell of this beautiful drum is of German 
silver, elegantly polished, and having all the 
glow of pure silver; the hoops are of solid 
rosewood ; both the batter and the snare heads 
are made of transparent calf skin, so clear one 
can read through them ; the braces are of a new 
and unique pattern, with a German silver crest 
on each cone ; the snare-fastener is of German 
silver. On the body of the drum is the beau- 
tifully engraved presentation inscription of the 
Tribune Association, which reads as follows : 


BT TirB 




fntrg 1 


Of -the Eighth Michigan Infantry, 

for his gallantry 

at the 

Attack on 


nth Dec, 1862. 


Many of our generals, colonels, and subaltern 
officers received, during the war, presents of 
houses, stocks, money, swords and pistols as tes- 
timonials of the appreciation of the donors, for 
distinguished gallantry, good service, and gentle- 
manly deportment as officers and men ; but it 
was seldom that officers of the army or civilians 
at home ever thought it worth their while to 
thus signify their approbation of soldierly conduct 
in the non-commissioned officers and privates of 
their commands or favorite regiments. They 
seem to have been regarded as machines — mere 
automatons on the great chess-board of war — 
and that any action on their part, however heroic, 
noble or manly, was a mere incident to their 
position, and that if any merit had deserved 
commemoration, it was the guiding, directing 
hand or will of the commander, upon whom the 


mantle of glory or reward should descend. Many 
are the instances where the humble, private 
soldier, known to none save the few comrades 
in his own company or regiment, deserved con- 
spicuous mention for his conduct, but who never 
received it. This recognition, therefore, by the 
Tribune Association, of the young but faithful 
Drummer-boy, is worthy of all praise. For the 
honor of the country let it not be said here- 
after that the soldier is forgotten. 

Question him the story of his life; 

Of many accidents by flood and field; 

Of hair-breadth escapes in the imminent, deadly breach, 

An d love him for the dangers he has passed, 

As he would you, that you did pity them. 

P. T. Barnum, so famous throughout the civi- 
lized world as a great showman, next took our 
hero in charge, and for eight weeks he was 
one of the attractive features of his museum. 


He had free access to all the halls, and whiled 
away the time most pleasantly in examining the 
many specimens of the natural world, as well as 
the unnatural, and in answering the many ques- 
tions with which he was constantly plied, prompt- 
ed by the admiration and the eager curiosity 
of the multitudes who gathered there. 

Upon the expiration of this service, Professor 
Harvey G. Eastman, LL.D., President of Eastman 
JSTational Business College, at Poughkeepsie, New 
York, one of the most eminent educators and busi- 
ness men in the land, and who has established one 
of the most popular and useful institutions of 
learning that ever supported the commercial in- 
terests of this nation, generously offered to 
educate, board and clothe him free of charge. 
The proposition was gladly accepted, and so, 
elegantly dressed in a suit of finest blue, trimmed 

174 THE deum:mee boy op 

with red, and carrying Lis splendid silver drum, 
he proceeded to Poughkeepsie, accompanied by 
several distinguished citizens. They were met 
at the depot by about two thousand students 
of the Eastman National Business College, besides 
a large number of people, all of whom had as- 
sembled to do honor to the brave little boy. 
The magnificent cornet band of the institution 
discoursed familiar airs, charming all with their 
skillful performances. The school then formed 
into a procession and marched to the college 
buildings, where the youthful hero was introduced 
to the students and citizens generally. The re- 
ception was very flattering, but was accepted in 
a becoming spirit of modest worth. 

Professor Eastman kindly took him into his 
own family, giving him the comforts and nice- 
ities of an elegant home. And Kobert, in sj)eak- 


ing of Ms generous benefactor, always says in 
his plain, frank way, "he used me like a son." 
He remained here at intervals, pursuing his 
studies with tolerable avidity, slowly acquiring 
an education which shall in due time insure the 
means of support and lay the foundation of his 
success in future life. But so used had he become 
to roaming around and seeing the country and 
the people, that his first essay at learning was 
confined to a pupilage of five months. AVhile 
here an incident occurred which proved that he 
still possessed the same heroism which character- 
ized him on the battle-fields of the Republic. 
One of the Poughkeepsie papers thus narrated 
the event : 

" As Robert Hendershot, well known as the Drummer-boy of the 
Rappahannock, was entering the Vassar-street building of Eastman's 
College in Poughkeepsie, he was set upon by three burglars who had 
gained an entrance into one of the rooms of the building. One of 



the thieves fired two shots at Hendershot in quick succession, the 
balls striking a Testament in the breast-pocket of his coat, doing him 
no injury whatever. Hendershot immediately drew a revolver and 
returned the fire rapidly. During the confusion the burglars made 
their escape. Upon examination, it was found that an attempt had 
been made to carry off Hendershot's beautiful silver drum, which was 
presented to him by the Tribune Association, and a quantity of money 
belonging to the stationery department of the college. The affair 
created considerable excitement, and the police are working up the 

Suddenly he conceived the idea of visiting 
Washington and paying his respects to President 
Lincoln. Accordingly he bade good-by to all his 
friends in Poughkeepsie, and started for the cap- 
ital of this great Union. In due season he was 
introduced to the President, who received him 
with that perfect simplicity which so endeared 
him to all those who ever had the honor of his 
acquaintance. That noble man spent some little 
time in pleasant conversation with him, and gave 


him some good advice — words of wisdom, beau- 
tiful as "apples of gold in pictures of silver" — 
words whict, we trust, he has treasured in the 
heart and will use as a polar star, guiding him 
onward to the noble and the true all through 

As the interview ended, the President invited 
our hero of the drum to dine with him. He, 
awed by the surroundings of the great man, and 
abashed even by his simple presence, felt that 
he had not nerve enough to face a table full 
of honored ladies and gentlemen, and excused 
himself by saying he thought he was illy clad 
for such an occasion. The President kindly re- 
marked, as he patted him on the head, "My 
young boy, it is not the dress that makes the 
man." Dinner over, he took his leave, with the 
kindly regards of the President, who in bidding 



him adieu, said, " Robert, if I can serve you in 
any way, come to me and I will do so." 

Robert spent six months in Washington at this 
time, serving as a messenger in Mr. Spinner's 
office. Then the old love came back upon him. 
The idol of glory again stood out in her mag- 
nificent proportions, dressed in robes of crimson 
and gold, radiant with smiles, her head crowned 
with the wreath of laurel, which only he could 
wear, who, by daring deeds and chivalrous bear- 
ing, had won a name as one of his country's 

Now he entered the navy. He was assigned 
for duty on the United States steamer "Fort 
Jackson," Captain Sands commanding, and sta- 
tioned near Fort Fisher. This officer was much 
impressed with the carriage of the boy and took 
kindly care of him. While lying off here an 



expedition was planned to destroy some salt 
works, whicli lay some little distance inland, and 
volunteers were called for to consummate the 
enterprise. As at Fredericksburg, on a much 
more perilous occasion, Robert was the first to 
respond. The party pulled ashore in small boats, 
landed without opposition, and set fire to the 
works, the few workmen running at the approach, 
of the marines. They then returned to the boats 
and hurriedly pushed from shore, accidentally 
leaving Robert behind, who unwisely had strayed 
from the party in quest of relics. His dismay 
was great when, upon reaching shore, he saw the 
boats a full half mile away. Full of pluck, and 
not relishing the thought that if the rebels' should 
appear, his probable fate would be death, he swam 
to an island, and there awaited deliverance. 
Upon gaining the steamer the loss of Robert 



was noticed, and the captain ordered a boat 
back to find him. As it passed near this island, 
his shouts attracted attention, and he was speedily 
freed from his unpleasant dilemma. 

Soon afterwards the boat proceeded to Norfolk, 
Virginia, and Robert was discharged from the 
service. The name of home sounded sweetly in 
his ears. The thousand quiet thoughts and en- 
dearing associations — rendered the more dear from 
the contrast of his waywardness — attuned his 
heart to the full melody of that sympathy which 
sanctifies the soul, and relieves life of all its 
dreary features. Then his heart yearned truly 
for his home, and he felt, if he did not express, 
the beautiful lines of George W. Bethune : 

"Mother! thy name is widow — well 

I know no love of mine can fill 
The waste place of thy heart, or dwell 

Within one sacred recess: still 
Lean on the faithful bosom of thy son, 
My parent, thou art mine, my only one I" 


His stay at home, however, was very short. 
Hardly twenty-four hours had elapsed before a 
letter to his mother, from an elder son, informed 
her that he was very sick. This brother was a 
member of the Second United States Artillery, 
and was attached to a division in the Army of 
the Potomac. The mother's anxiety was very 
great, and so Robert hastened at once to him 
and gave him kindly care — those tender assi- 
duities which flow from hearts allied by the 
chords of love drawn from a common mother's 
breast — a social love and sympathy which goes 
far to cheer the heart, enliven the brain, and 
drive far away the inroads of physical suffering. 
His brother soon recovered, and then Robert 

devoted himself to tlie generous task of nursing 
the wounded who had fallen while so stoutly 
and bravely fighting in the battles around Rich- 
niond; but this tender mission was soon sus- 
pended — for one day, while visiting a friend 
who was stationed in Fort Steadman, near 
Petersburg^ the rebels attacked it, and a des- 
perate battle ensued, during which he and his 
friend were taken prisoners and sent to Libby 
Prison in Richmond. They remained there to- 
gether for a month, and then Robert being a 
mere boy, was allowed to come out and walk 
around the prison. They soon made overtures 
to him to enter the rebel army as a drummer, 
and thinking it a speedy way of getting home 
again, he enlisted under the " Stars and Bars," 
and was at once sent to Petersburg. The very 
first night after his arrival at the front he 



crawled througli the rebel picket line and over 
into the Federal, when he was arrested; but 
upon proving himself the Drummer-boy of the 
Rappahannock, which was no difficult task, he 
was released, and at once repaired to Washington. 

He put up at the Kirkwood House, a first- 
class hotel then kept by C. C. Sprig, who 
extended every kindness to him free of charge. 
Here he remained for two weeks, moving daily 
among the " stars " and " eagles," which, content 
with the empyrean height attained, and surfeited 
with the glory gained, mistily glimmered and 
M'"heeled in their particular orbit of Washington 
society, like the meteor's flash, kindling a flame 
of admiration for an instant, and then passing 
away into the depths of the great unknown 

Fortune next drifted him into a news-agent 



on board tlie steamer "James T. Brady," wliicli 
runs regularly between Washington and City 
Point. While in this business he greatly aided 
the soldiers in procuring the boxes of nick-nacks 
and goodies sent them by the loved ones at 

Then he visited his brother again in the 
Second Artillery, and was with him in Sheri- 
dan's famous battle of the Five Forks, the last 
engagement of the war, and gained additional 
laurels for his heroism and kind-heartedness. He 
was with General Custer, and in the thickest of 
the fray. In one of the rebel charges he was 
run over, but again played possum, lying mo- 
tionless, as if he were dead. Soon Custer's in- 
vincible host charged the rebel van, driving it 
like sand before the wind, and Robert, once 
more secure, returned to life. His unremitting 



attentions to the wounded in this affair won Lim 
troops of friends, and the chief surgeon, in be- 
half of the wounded, made him a present of a 
beautiful silver watch and a pistol. On the 
inside of the watch was engraved quite neatly, 
the work of some soldier, the following inscrip- 
tion: "Presented to R. H. Hendershot, Drummer- 
boy of the Rappahannock, for his kindness and 
services to the wounded soldiers of Sheridan's 
Cavalry, on the 3rd of April, 1865." 

Among the many characteristics of the soldier, 
generosity is perhaps the most prominent and 
the most impressive. However knotted and 
gnarled may have been his heart when at home, 
even though a kindly emotion may never have 
welled from his bosom, yet when the rough 
experiences of soldier life — common trouble and 
danger — have developed his character, he will 


sympatliize deeply witli those in distress, and 
divide Ms last penny with the unfortunate — the 
rich fruit of a harsh culture, ripening and crack- 
ing like the persimmon under the influence of 
the cold and wintry frost. And the spirit of 
gratitude exemplified by these brave men in 
thus giving our Drummer-boy such tokens of 
esteem, is evidence strong " as proof of Holy 
Writ," that they are not forgetful of those en- 
dearing acts which so knit together heart with 
heart in mystic bonds of love. 

Now that the war was ended, and the birds 
caroled their songs of peace, and the voice of 
the turtle was heard in the land, now that the 
strong muscle, the indomitable resolution, the 
unshrinking courage were no longer required to 
maintain the honor of our starry flag and the 
perpetuity of the government, Robert again re- 

turned to his kind benefactor at Poughkeepsie, 
New York, and resumed his studies. At length, 
Mr. Eastman's famous band made a musical tour 
through the Middle and Western States, and 
Robert accompanied them as a drummer. The 
band won high encomiums from the people and 
the press of the country. This trip over, he 
accepted a very kind offer of Reeder Smith, Esq., 
of Appleton, Wisconsin, to live with him, and 
pursue his studies in the academic department 
of Lawrence University. 

Appleton is a beautiful town, and nestles lov- 
ingly on the banks of Fox River, a stream 
bordered with scenery as classic as that of the 
Arno, and abounding with legendary lore as 
touching as the most pathetic in Hiawatha. 
And here, too, Lawrence University — the bene- 
faction of two liberal and noble men of Massachu- 



setts, Appleton and Lawrence — rises from amidst 
a mass of leafy foliage, like a grand Pharos of 
white stone. 

He remained here but one term, but this 
period is among the brightest epochs of his 
young eventful life. Mr. Smith had a boy 
named Lawrence, a lad the same age as Robert, 
and every Saturday was a holiday with them. 
They generally went hunting or fishing, and 
frequently some episode occurred, full of exciting 
interest and even of danger. 

One bright morning the two boys, jubilant 
in spirit, and with a basket laden ^dth a nice 
lunch, started on a fishing excursion up the river 
towards Lake Butte des Morts, a wide expanse in 
the stream, abounding with fish of excellent quali- 
ty. They trolled for some time with excellent luck, 
placing in the bottom of their boat about fifty 


elegant pike and black bass. It was nearing 
sunset wlien they started for home. Lawrence 
first took his turn at rowing. The boat was 
very long and narrow, but little better in fact 
than a dug-out, and as Kobert was relieving 
Lawrence at the oars, it struck a snag and 
capsized. The predicament was laughable. The 
boat was bottom up, the oars and the fish all 
drifted down stream. Robert's gun sank instantly 
to the bottom, while both boys floundered in 
the water, but being good swimmers, they were 
not afraid of drowning. Lawrence struck at once 
for the land, while Robert worked the boat off 
the snag upon which it had poised, and pushed 
it ashore, not far distant. This done, he thought 
of the oars, and swam out for them. They then 
tipped the water out of the boat and rowed 
into the stream, picking up the fish. Finally 


these were captured. And then came an anxiety 
to save the gun, for it was a splendid fowling 
piece, and a great favorite with him. For a 
moment a shadow of despair darkened his heart, 
even as the" passing cloud obscures the sun, and 
then disappeared forever. A new thought oc- 
curred to him. He could dive down and get 
it, and he would do it. Pwpose declared this, 
and ivill achieved it. The third effort was a 
success. Full of glee, he sang merrily that song 
so familiar with school-boy days, 

"If at first you don't succeed, 
Try, try again." 

His conquest was complete, or nearly so, as the 
only articles lost were his hat and a pair of 
boots. Home was reached without further mis- 
hap, and a nice warm supper awaited them. 
Lawrence's mother evinced great surprise when 

they came in, tlieir clotlies . loggy with water, and 
at once divined that some accident had befallen 
them. The adventure was related with all the 
vim natural to youth, and was ended with a 
word of caution for the future from the parents. 
He remained in Appleton, Wisconsin, only 
during one term of school, and then bade his 
kind friends and patrons, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, 
adieu. Proceeding to Poughkeepsie, he tarried a 
little time with Mr. Eastman ; and on the 1st 
of July returned to Michigan. On the Nation's 
Holiday he visited Detroit, and was unfortunate 
enough to lose his pocket-book, containing fifty- 
seven dollars, at the hand of one of the light- 
fingered gentry. He informed the Honorable 
Mayor of his loss, and that kind-hearted gentleman, 
with whom the Drummer-boy was a great favo- 
rite, because of the honor he had gained as 


one of Michigan's sons, failing to recover tlie 
money, generously started a subscription among 
his friends and promj)tly made the loss good. 
From Michigan he visited Boston, and spent 
several days with Mr. Emerson, so eminent for his 
acquirements and scholarship. From here he 
visited General A. E. Burnside, his former com- 
mander, and now Governor of the State of Rhode 
Island. This noble-minded man received and 
treated him with great consideration, and upon 
his leaving for Philadelphia, gave him a letter of 
recommendation — the strongest one it is said that 
he ever gave a boy. 

The famous National Union Convention was 
then in session, and Kobert was a constant wit- 
ness to its proceedings, and made the acquaintance 
of many of its members, both from the North 
and the South. Thence he returned to Michigan 


wliere lie quietly remained in tlie enjoyment of 
the society of his mother, relations and friends — 
especially that of an uncle, Kobert Hendershot, a 
farmer, who resides near Monroe, and who had a 
magnificent span of horses and a carriage, which 
were placed at his disposal, and with which he 
enjoyed many a ride in company with the fair 
damsels in and around that beautiful little city. 
On the fifth of September he came to Chicago 
to attend the ceremony of laying the corner- 
stone of the Douglas Monument. Here he met 
the Presidential party, and at the invitation of 
General Grant and Secretary Seward, he accom- 
panied the party the balance of the tour to 
Washington City. He is now preparing to enter 
the West Point Military Academy, to which he 
was designated by the lamented Lincoln, that 
great statesman and patriot; him whom the 


renowned in the field, the forum, and the pulpit 
all lov^ed and admired ; him who, though tow- 
ering on the pinnacle of a nation's greatness, 
did not forget from how humble a source he 
had risen, nor fail to stoop down from that 
glorious elevation and extend his hand, electric 
with the loving sympathy of his heart, and say, 
" Be of good cheer. Persevere in well-doing, and 
thou shalt yet win happiness and honor." It 
was the last appointment to the Military School 
which he ever made. Robert felt the blow most 
deeply when the dread news came that his and 
the people's idolized President had fallen a 
victim to the assassin's hand. And when martial 
bands, steeple, tower, and minute gun pealed 
forth the deep anthem and funeral knell of the 
dead, the great departed, no oppressed heart 
uttered a sincerer sigh of sorrow, no eye let 


fall hotter tears of sadness. All ! death, thou 
art inexorable. Thy shafts assail and destroy 
the noblest as well as the meanest, the purest^ 
as remorselessly as the vilest. How sweet then 
the consolations afforded by a belief in the holy 

faith of God. 


" They who die in Christ are blessed — 

Ours be then no thought of grieving! 
Sweetly with their God they rest, 

AU their toils and troubles leaving: 
So be ours the faith that saveth, 
Hope that every trial braveth, 
Love that to the end endureth, 
And through Christ the crown secureth.'' 

The great man has gone, but the principles 
which he has inculcated and enforced shall live 
forever. The casket is destroyed, but the jewel 
is imperishable. The bow is broken, but the 
arrow has reached its mark. Abraham Lincoln 


is indeed dead, but the influence of his virtues, 
his high moral character survives, and will con- 
tinue to exercise a controlling power in the 
legislation of the nation, as the sunset sky, when 
the orb of day has set, still shows the glowing 
traces of its warmth and beauty. 


OuE task is done. The narrative of the brave 
Drummer-boy is completed. The record is glori- 
ous for one so young, and should quicken with 
pride the hearts of our people. Our young 
folks can read it with interest and profit. It 
inculcates a two-fold lesson. The earlier weak- 
nesses and foibles should be condemned, while 
the love of country manifested, the enthusiasm 
of youth displayed, the daring deeds of battle 
performed, are most worthy of remembrance and 

And now that the rebellion is ended, thousands 
of noble acts of heroism, duty, devotion, sacrifice, 
and humanity performed on the battle-field and 
in the hospital will be written out — grouped. 


defined and analyzed — lending a fresher glow 
to our national fame and prowess than it lias 
ever before attained. 

It is opportunity that has thus distinguished 
America, placing it to-day first and foremost 
among the nations in all the essentials of its 
being — its institutions, its nationality, its nature, 
and its life. It is this great motor which en- 
abled our people, when a few men, in their 
hatred to New England Puritanism, to freedom 
and liberal institutions, stirred up an insurrection 
to establish the political sanctity of American 
Slavery, to crush out, and forever, every vestige 
of the giant barbarism, so that now our land 
is " free in reality as in name," the National 
Constitution, our Magna Charta of rights pro- 
claiming in letters of living light the annihilation 
of this great wrong. Opportunity has proved 



that a Republican Government is capable of 
maintaining itself against internal dissensions and 
out-breaks, however great, and that the argument 
of despotic and monarchical power, that in war 
we should lack the centralization necessary to 
such an emergency, has been forever silenced 
from the fact that in this desperate conflict, just 
terminated, our people — educated and intelli- 
gent — sustained the national power, vindicated 
the integrity of the Union, extended its consti- 
tutional authority to meet every new trial, and 
that, too, without the least curtailment of private 
rights, and without the least disturbance of that 
just equilibrium which constitutes the true har- 
mony, prosj)erity, and perpetuity of our institu- 
tions. Opportunity has placed us in the van of 
nations, in the advancement of science and art, 
and our inventive talent in the construction of 




monitors, ordnance, camp-equipage, and tlie mate- 
riel of war in general has astonished and con- 
founded the world. 

In our terrible fratricidal strife nothing has 
gone backward. Every new development has 
been aggressive and progressive. Olden land- 
marks, olden ideas, old prejudices have all been 
set aside, and the nation has steadily and sturdily 
advanced on the high road to moral and intel- 
lectual greatness. The Christian and Sanitary 
Commissions and the benign nobleness and de- 
votion of oui' women have exerted untold and 
incalculable power in this behalf. 

Who then shall say our country shall not 
live, and its beneficence and power for good be 
felt until the "last syllable of recorded time?" 
AVell may we declare the language of an English 
poet, in addressing his own country. 


" The grave's not dug where traitor hands shall lay, 
In fearful haste, thy murdered corse away." 

Let the unexampled growtli of our country in 
the past, its wonderful endurance in the present, 
its untold and immeasurable field for future 
usefulness, and honor, and glory, illustrated by 
the examples of our history, and enforced by 
the precepts of all that is generous, exalted and 
pure, be deeply instilled into the hearts of our 
youth, in each succeeding generation, through all 
coming time, and there need be no fear but 
that our government, which is, to quote the 
words of our martyred President, " the last best 
hope of the earth," will be perpetuated and be- 
come as enduring as the earth itself And God, 
in the exercise of his mysterious will, ordaining 
all for good, shall suffer it to stand a beacon 
of hope to oppressed humanity every where. 


an intermediary alembic, uniting the frailties of 
tlie mortal with the Christian self-assurance of 
the Immortal. Thus may it be ever active, ever 
onward, and to use the sweet simile of Dante 
in his Vision of Paradise 

' ' Like a wheel 
In even motion, by the love impelled 
That moves the sun in heaven and all the stars." 





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