Help Dating and Identifying Military Snare Drum?

bobinwmass

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Last year I bought what was called an Abner Stevens Civil War Snare drum from a dealer on the internet. I purchased it for several reasons: my research indicated that the drum was significantly older than Civil War, as Abner Stevens began making drums in 1809 in Pittsfield, MA (town indicated on label inside drum); I collect Massachusetts Militia items and being made about 25 miles from my house, it possibly went to a Massachusetts unit; and finally, the drum appears to have regimental markings. Drum is in decent condition for being about 200 years old, please see the photos below. Stevens apparently had a contract with the Federal Government to supply drums during the War of 1812, and made drums for militia use for many years. I have seen some varying examples of his drum labels dated from 1810 to about 1824 on the internet, but the label inside my drum is bit smaller than those I have seen and is not dated. My first question is: are there any Abner Stevens drum experts out there who know when the label inside my drum was used?
I suspect the drum has seen long use (potentially could have been in War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, and beyond), and was likely refinished at least once during that time. It currently has remnants of stenciled letters above and below the vent hole. They are difficult to make out because the old finish has really begun to alligator. The top line appears to say "28th REGT", and on the lower line the first 3 letters are clearly "L A N" the next character is hard to make out, also because it falls on the line of tacks that help hold the shell together. The final character appears to be a "1." Maybe this says "91"? I know not know too many states in my area that had regimental numbers that went as high as 28. In New England, I think only Massachusetts did, and they were part of the Irish Brigade. But Pittsfield is very close to New York, and I am sure they also had a 28th Regiment. And who knows how far from its original home the drum may have wandered before receiving the markings. If the final 2 characters do say "91" could it have been refinished for a reunion of some sort? I have stared and stared, and can come up with no more ideas. I was hoping there may be some wiser minds out there that could give me some suggestions. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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lelliott19

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Welcome to CWT @bobinwmass

That's a great piece! I know nothing about drums and so cant add any expertise there. But perhaps in deciphering the writing? To me, the bottom line looks like it could possibly read "L A No 1" (with an elevated "o" between the N and the 1). Maybe as in Light Artillery No 1?
 

bobinwmass

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Thanks lelliot19. I thought of that also but think they identified light artillery as battery as opposed to regiments, but not positive. New York did have a 28th Independent Light Artillery battery.
 

Package4

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Abner Stevens was making drums as early as the War of 1812 and there are two drums of his in the Old Sturbridge Village Collection, one with a date of 1818 and another 1824. Your drum is very nice with what appears to be original heads, ropes and tighteners. Your drum looks to be a bit later and the label is not of the earlier type. Abner died in 1842 and his son took over the business, so I wonder if the label changes then or...….....?
 

bobinwmass

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Thank you Package4. I did see examples of his son's labels, so I know they did change after his death. You may correct that this label is from Abner's later products.
 

Story

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If a War of 1812 drum still worked in 1861, no reason it wouldn't have been taken with those first units mobilized.

Abner Stevens was making drums as early as the War of 1812 and there are two drums of his in the Old Sturbridge Village Collection, one with a date of 1818 and another 1824. Your drum is very nice with what appears to be original heads, ropes and tighteners. Your drum looks to be a bit later and the label is not of the earlier type. Abner died in 1842 and his son took over the business, so I wonder if the label changes then or...….....?

Circumstantial evidence that points to a father-son relationship between Abner and Moseley Stevens includes the dates of their drums' manufacture and similarities of design. Abner Stevens’ drums date from 1810-1824, whereas NMM 14392 and another M. W. Stevens drum sold by Kovels.com date from 1844 and 1845. These dates, with a twenty year gap, correspond to a typical generation gap in a family. If one compares NMM 14392 to Abner Stevens' drums, there are two striking similarities. Both makers painted an eight-pointed star around the vent hole and both makers used a similar tacking pattern of a circle surrounding the eight-point star with diamonds north and south of the circle. The wording of the labels of both makers is similar. An Abner Stevens’ drum at the Old Sturbridge Village also bears a label with an eagle design that is very similar to the label accompanying NMM 14392.

http://collections.nmmusd.org/Drums/SnareDrums/Stevens/14392/MWStevensDrum.html
 

Story

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bobinwmass

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If a War of 1812 drum still worked in 1861, no reason it wouldn't have been taken with those first units mobilized.




Circumstantial evidence that points to a father-son relationship between Abner and Moseley Stevens includes the dates of their drums' manufacture and similarities of design. Abner Stevens’ drums date from 1810-1824, whereas NMM 14392 and another M. W. Stevens drum sold by Kovels.com date from 1844 and 1845. These dates, with a twenty year gap, correspond to a typical generation gap in a family. If one compares NMM 14392 to Abner Stevens' drums, there are two striking similarities. Both makers painted an eight-pointed star around the vent hole and both makers used a similar tacking pattern of a circle surrounding the eight-point star with diamonds north and south of the circle. The wording of the labels of both makers is similar. An Abner Stevens’ drum at the Old Sturbridge Village also bears a label with an eagle design that is very similar to the label accompanying NMM 14392.

http://collections.nmmusd.org/Drums/SnareDrums/Stevens/14392/MWStevensDrum.html
Thank you for the info and the great link to even more great info.
 

Package4

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If a War of 1812 drum still worked in 1861, no reason it wouldn't have been taken with those first units mobilized.




Circumstantial evidence that points to a father-son relationship between Abner and Moseley Stevens includes the dates of their drums' manufacture and similarities of design. Abner Stevens’ drums date from 1810-1824, whereas NMM 14392 and another M. W. Stevens drum sold by Kovels.com date from 1844 and 1845. These dates, with a twenty year gap, correspond to a typical generation gap in a family. If one compares NMM 14392 to Abner Stevens' drums, there are two striking similarities. Both makers painted an eight-pointed star around the vent hole and both makers used a similar tacking pattern of a circle surrounding the eight-point star with diamonds north and south of the circle. The wording of the labels of both makers is similar. An Abner Stevens’ drum at the Old Sturbridge Village also bears a label with an eagle design that is very similar to the label accompanying NMM 14392.

http://collections.nmmusd.org/Drums/SnareDrums/Stevens/14392/MWStevensDrum.html
It is very doubtful that this is a war of 1812 drum as the label does not match the ones produced during that timeframe. I believe this to be an 1830-1840s militia piece, repurposed for later use. Militia designations are not the same as regular army and I believe this to be part of a 28th Regiment of militia which had a battery or batteries attached. I looked at Todd and could not find a MA unit that matched. As previously stated there is a NY unit, but the drum specifically states 28th Regt. and not battery.
 

Story

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It is very doubtful that this is a war of 1812 drum as the label does not match the ones produced during that timeframe. I believe this to be an 1830-1840s militia piece, repurposed for later use.
Ok. "Pre-war" then.

As previously stated there is a NY unit, but the drum specifically states 28th Regt. and not battery.
TWENTY-EIGH'TH REGIMENT, N. Y. S. MILITIA.
The Twenty-eighth Regiment was organised in the city of Brooklyn, and is in the Fifth brigade, Second division of the State Militia organization.
It left the State on the 30th of April, 1861. The official report placed the number of men in the regiment at 563, but the local accounts, published at the time of its departure, put the figures much higher.
https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/28thInfNYSM/28thInfNYSMMain.htm
 

bobinwmass

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Thanks Story for your continued help and research. I didn't see anything about batteries associated with the 28th NYSM that would explain the LA on the drum. But one of the earlier links you provided mentioned a Stevens drum with ties to Michigan, so I guess this could have been used far from its place of origin also. I looked at Pennsylvania also. While the 28th Infantry had so many recruits that the extra men were used to form a light artillery battery, it was given its own Independent designation. And the 28th Penn Militia indicate nothing about artillery. I will keep widening my search while following the angle that LA may stand for Light Artillery.
 

Story

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I looked at Pennsylvania also. While the 28th Infantry had so many recruits that the extra men were used to form a light artillery battery, it was given its own Independent designation.
Knap's Battery was associated with the 28th Pennsylvania Regiment.
https://archive.org/details/associationof2800asso/page/n23

I think the LAN(?) 1 is some arcane and long forgotten abbreviation from within the Regiment, not a Light Artillery designation.
 

bobinwmass

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Knap's Battery was associated with the 28th Pennsylvania Regiment.
https://archive.org/details/associationof2800asso/page/n23

I think the LAN(?) 1 is some arcane and long forgotten abbreviation from within the Regiment, not a Light Artillery designation.
I think that is also very likely and I may never learn more than it belonged to some 28th Regiment somewhere. But would be nice to stumble across something.
 


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