|General Lee and his Drummer Boy
The Gettysburg Address in Translation: What It Really Means
How long is four score and seven years? Just what are unalienable rights? This translation makes important historical documents meaningful. Each book translates the work of a primary source into a language you can understand
A Ballad of the Civil War
A wonderful chapter book for children that should help them to appreciate the fact that some people could not defend a person's right to own other people and to understand that sad era that ended in the "brothers' war."
Fields of Fury
The American Civil War
Written for young readers a stirring account of the greatest conflict to happen on our nation's soil, the Civil War, bringing to life the tragic struggle that divided not only a nation, but also friends and family.
Eye Witness Civil War
Eyewitness Civil War includes everything from the issues that divided the country, to the battles that shaped the conflict, to the birth of the reunited states. Rich, full-color photographs
Lee and his Drummer Boy
There is a story told about General Lee: After the battle of Second Manassas, General Lee was seated on Traveller at the Groveton crossroads, watching his soldiers digging graves for the burial of their dead pals. A drummer boy from the 40th Virginia Regiment, Field’s Brigade, Hill’s division approached him, trembling and in tears. Two days before, the boy had been at the railroad cut and had witnessed his regiment’s bloody hand to hand combat with the bluecoats of Leasure’s brigade, Kearny’s division, Heintzelman’s corps. And the day before he had steadily beaten his drum, despite the terrifying whine and explosion of the shells, advancing with the pitiful few left of the regiment, after Pope’s final attack had faltered and failed.
Now, the drummer boy, his shock of sandy hair caked with greasy dirt, his shallow face black with smudges of powder, his homespun clothes in tatters, came up to Traveller’s stirrup and, laying a hand on the big stallion’s moist shoulder, said to General Lee, in a quavering voice: “Please sir, why must the men fight?”
For a moment, General Lee’s dark eyes fell full on the drummer boy’s face; then his gaze swept away over the dismal battlefield, and he raised a gauntleted hand and rubbed the back of his neck wearily, thinking of what to say.
With the the field in front of him, he knew it would be a waste of words to recount the political history of the Union: the eighty years of rising tension between the sections—the political storms in the congress that produced the Missouri Compromise in 1820, and its repeal in 1850; the incessant harangues of the abolitionists, made in the Senate, the pulpit and the press; the violent, bitter struggle for control of the Kansas territory; the wanton murders John Brown committed seizing Harper’s Ferry in 1859; even Lincoln’s instigation of the war, using Fort Sumter like a stone thrown into a hornet’s nest, was too abstract, too ambiguous an answer.
General Lee looked down at the drummer boy. He might say, he thought, that the men must fight for slavery—must fight to keep the institution secure, that Cotton is king, and with African negro slaves, the South owns the king—but that, too, was still too abstract an answer. And that Cotton was king certainly had nothing to do with Virginia. For Virginia it was simply a matter of choosing not to heed Lincoln’s call to suppress the secession. But how to tell the boy what caused the civil war?
“How old are you, son?” General Lee asked, shifting his seat in the saddle and reaching down to put a hand on the boy’s shoulder.
General Lee sighed, straightened, and looked away again; his thoughts embracing the blackness of his generalship: The war was being fought by boys. Almost one tenth of the soldiers in his army had enlisted at fifteen, half were seventeen or younger, most of the rest no older than twenty-one. All their future was like a dark corridor, bleak and reeking of misery and death, its door at the end discernible only as a pin-point.
For an instant, a flash of lamentation swept through General Lee’s mind, his wasted calling, his hopeless future, already burdening him with dreams of whispering souls streaming from the battlefields he had created. He breathed in suddenly with all his might the sweet smell of death that rose from the battlefield and it deepened his sadness. And he could think of nothing to say, except the truth, felt nothing but the urgent need to give the boy the answer, soothing the turmoil in his mind.
“Where do you hail from, son?” he queried, looking down at him with a smile of quiet affection, as though he were a favorite friend.
“From Loudoun County, sir,” the boy replied, his heart throbbing.
“Do you have brothers?”
“Yes,” the drummer boy answered hesitantly; “my brother, sixteen years old, was first of the family to enlist, and then I followed.”
General Lee looked off again toward the battlefield, nodding his head slowly. The boy could see a crease show on Lee’s smooth brow, denoting the working of a thought. A moment passed and still looking at the field, bathed now in the glow of falling twilight, Lee said, “Suppose Pope had beaten us here and Richmond was now falling, and the war was ending. How would you feel, son?”
The drummer boy looked up at General Lee earnestly, his hands suddenly gripping Traveller’s black mane tightly. “Beaten you mean? Beaten? the boy said incredulously, his eyes like deep wells of light searching Lee’s face for confirmation.
“Yes, that is what I mean,” Lee replied softly.
A look of bewilderment came over the drummer boy’s face. He stared fixedly at Lee, his eyes widened, and the muscles of his face were quivering, as though he were struggling in confusion to comprehend. His flashing thoughts were of his mother and sisters at home, in Middleburg—he saw the column of bluecoat soldiers marching in the main street, squads breaking off down the lanes and one of them invading their home, the soldiers jeering at the women, jostling them aside, rummaging about breaking things, taking things. He felt suddenly more miserable than he could imagine possible. His powder-smirched face flamed red with blushing, as his pounding heart rushed blood through his veins. He felt a terrible impotency and, suddenly, he withdrew his hands from Traveller’s neck and balled them into fists in a rage. He felt an intense shame, self-contempt, loss of self-respect; realizing the whole world would be laughing if the battle had been lost.
General Lee remained silent, watching the boy. He saw that the boy was gaining the light, that he was gaining control of himself, settling his emotions with a cold countenance, with an inner spring of steel welling up. The boy saw now that the war was a dire necessity, costly but worth the cost to hold out to the last, that every nation needs men willing to die for its survival, and Virginia and the South must prove themselves no less a nation than the Union.
The drummer boy’s eyes cleared and the muscles of his face became chiseled as in brown stone. He hitched up the straps of his drum cradle and, folding his arms across his chest, stepped back a pace. The wafting sound of a bugle faintly echoed Tattoo over the field. Both he and Lee turned their heads to the sound and listened. They could see the soldiers in the field had finished with their digging and the day was done.
:”We will fight them!” the boy suddenly exclaimed; “we will drive them from Virginia, General, I’m sure of it. We’ll teach them how hard it will go for them, making war on us!”
The sound of horses galloping came to their ears and their eyes turned from their mutual look of warm understanding, and they saw the bobbing figures of a crowd of riders coming toward them on the pike.
“You see my staff officers have found me,” Lee said, “and no doubt your sergeant is worried about you.”
“Yes, sir!” the drummer boy said, raising his hand in salute. “The regiment needs me. And it’s time I gave up this drum and went into the ranks.”
General Lee raised his rein-hand just an inch and Traveller pranced forward a step, his head coming up with his ears pricked. “Well, then, go son,” Lee said as he returned the boy’s salute. “Your regiment will need you in the ranks.” And he put Traveller to the trot and moved to meet the cavalcade.
|Written by: Joe Ryan
Confederate Civil War Action Figures
|Kids Zone Exhibits
Civil War Cooking
Confederate Johnny Cakes Recipe
Union Hardtack Recipe
Civil War Games
Civil War Exhibits
Ships and Naval Battles
State Battle Maps
Women in the War
Civil War Picture Album
Maps of the Civil War
Civil War Timeline
Young Reader Books
Civil War Store
Civil War Soldier 102 Piece Playset
The Boys War
With the many boys who fought in the civil war most of them lied about their age. A lot of them wrote letters or had a diary. Johnny Clem had run away from his home at 11. At age 12 he tried to enlist but they refused to let him join because he was clearly too young. The next day he came back to join as a drummer boy.
The Civil War for Kids
History explodes in this activity guide spanning the turmoil preceding secession, the first shots fired at Fort Sumter, the fierce battles on land and sea, and finally the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. Making butternut dye for a Rebel uniform, learning drills and signals with flags, decoding wigwag, baking hardtack, reenacting battles, and making a medicine kit bring this pivotal period in our nation's history to life.
Behind the Blue and Gray: The Soldier's Life in the Civil War
Civil War reading can be very dry, but not this book. Delia Ray takes us on a soldiers journey beginning with enlistment and ending with a soldiers life after the war, using quotes from actual letters and diaries strategically placed throughout the book.
The Big Book of the Civil War: Fascinating Facts About the Civil War, Including Historic Photographs, Maps, and Documents
The Battle of First Bull Run: The Civil War Begins
Three months after the shelling of Fort Sumter, Union and Confederate forces met for the first time in earnest combat. However, neither side was prepared at this early stage of the war, and confusion reigned on the battlefield
A Ballad of the Civil War
A wonderful chapter book for children that should help them to appreciate the fact that some people could not defend a person's right to own other people and to understand that sad era that ended in the "brothers' war." It has four chapters with a prologue and a closing author's note. The conversations that Tom has with the household slave "Uncle Roger" provide some unique insight into the dilemma that slaves faced in the antebellum South
The Civil War Songbook
This collection of "War Between the States" music has been the standard one in the re-enacting circuit for many years now. The sheet music is published just as it was originally and it contains some of the best known classic songs.
Voice of Freedom: A Story About Frederick Douglass
Interesting for both children and adults, this book does much to evoke the strong-minded, highly-principled person who inspired so many others
National Park Service
|Enter the keywords you are looking for and the site will be searched and all occurrences of your request will be displayed. You can also enter a date format, April 19,1862 or September 1864.|