A Mother's Son, Eddie's Drum At Wilson's Creek

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Mar 2, 2015
Cedar Rapids IA
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The Drummer Boy was a favorite topic of artist and Civil War reporter Thomas Nash. This is a portion of only one of several pictorial ' bios ' done for Harper's between 1861 and 1865.

These stories may seem overdone, melodramatic and so lost in Time lack the ability for us to make the connection between ' then' and ' now '. That is a mistake. A widow brought her son to an army camp. The little, displaced family needed money, could he be a drummer? He could.

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An officer wrote of the inevitable, tragic results.

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LoC. Such was the patriotic fervor pervading this country, images like these actually were sold- ornaments for one's wall. A boy. Inside war.

Men and women saw awful things. They wrote of them. One thing the Victorians did- and really well- was yank our heart strings. Sometimes they should have and we must say Thank You. Alongside so many of these accounts in Harpers Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper are made-up stories. You know, dramas in everyday life, Eloise and Franklin and their hopeless love. Who in blazes read them?

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The story, from the next month's issue of Harper's, sure seems typical- fiction? No.

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My 3 sons looked this tall, and awkward, in soccer shorts, cleats and torn t-shorts, posed unwillingly before rocketing off to some muddy field. These three? Nine battles- in war- total, mud and blood. Kinda hate this photograph. You want them to come home.

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8th Regiment, PA , Drumming Taps

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Lyon was dead. The battle of Wilson's Creek, 1861, was over- sections of the article have been cut for brevity. A beaten drum drew this officer to where a widow's son lay,

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" Took off his buckskin suspenders, and corded the little fellow's legs below the knee.. " That was ' the enemy ". I don't think so.

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Sorry to include Eddie's death. It was important. Women lost their children- after yes, putting them in harm's way, too. It's incomprehensible to any of us, a parent would deliberately expose their son to any harm, much less an entire war. I do not have statistics on how many drummers were killed between 1861 and 1865, if those numbers exists. A mother somewhere lost each one.

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The first story regarding the mother bringing her son to the captain mentions the fifer was of the "Dubuque mines." Dubuque is in NE Iowa. The 1st Iowa Infantry was at Wilson's Creek. There might be some truth to it ???
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Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Jul 8, 2015
I had no idea Winslow Homer did CW drawings. Here in New England, the focus is mostly on his ocean scenes. Very interesting and thanks for putting that etching up.

Winslow Homer did a number of very good paintings based on scenes he had witnessed at the front. This is my favorite, but there are bunch of other good ones too.
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