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Drummer for the Union

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Drummer for the Union
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Delavan S. Miller
Date Published: 2013/07
Page Count: 280
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-125-0
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-124-3

A Leonaur ‘two in one’ original book on the American Civil War

This unique Leonaur edition is sure to appeal to all enthusiasts of the history of the American Civil War. Both titles contained in this book share a common author and common themes. The young Delavan Miller, at scarcely thirteen years old, enlisted as a drummer boy in the New York Heavy Artillery of the Union Army. He has left posterity with a riveting and engagingly anecdote filled first hand account of his experiences at the sharp end of war—including details of camp and march as well as harrowing accounts of full battle including those of Cold Harbor and Petersburg. What makes this Leonaur edition special is that later in life Miller turned his attention to the writing of fiction, particularly short stories, which not only took the American Civil War as a theme, but also focussed on drums and the boys who played them—those stories are included here. This ‘two in one’ volume is an essential, welcome and charming addition to any library of the American Civil War.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

It is understood that Lee’s chief officers held a meeting the night of the 6th and counselled him to surrender, but he had not abandoned all hope and the next morning the rebel army began again the desperate race for life. They crossed the Appomattox River at High Bridge and set fire to the same to prevent pursuit. But the 2nd corps were so close after them that our men reached one end of the bridge as the rebels were leaving the other.<br>
Gen. Mahone’s troops contested the passage for a time, but Gen. Miles ordered a battery into position and after a vigorous shelling the rebels let go of their end and our troops crossed over and pushed on after the enemy.
Lee’s army was now on what may be termed a neck of land formed by the James and Appomattox Rivers.<br>
The Army of the James had come up and were pressing them on one side, the Army of the Potomac on the other, while Sheridan and his cavalry had gone around south to try and close the outlet.<br>
As soon as our corps got across the river the pursuit of Lee continued out along the old Appomattox stage road.<br>
About one o’clock in the afternoon, the First and Third Division came up with the enemy near the Appomattox stage road, where they had gone into position to oppose our advance. Poague’s Battery opened upon us, and made things lively for just as we passed an open field the shells began to fly through the woods in our front, and as we approached the edge of the woods the skirmishers opened upon the head of the old First Brigade.<br>
Just at this moment orders came directing us into line on the left of the road, and before we had completed the movement a battery galloped into position in the rear of the Second New York, and Bang—bang—bang—whiz—hum—buzz—boom—boom—boom—crack—whir—crash, whang—while the old Second responded with a cheer and its facetious cry “lay down!”<br>
The 61st New York and 26th Michigan were immediately deployed as skirmishers and advanced into the woods driving the Johnnies before them over a little ridge of ground. Our line of battle, the 2nd New York in the centre, the 5th New Hampshire and 81st Pennsylvania on our left and the 183rd and 140th Pennsylvania on our right advanced close up to the ridge while the skirmishers were pushed well up against the enemy to develop the position.
It was soon learned that all that was left of Lee’s army was in our front well intrenched and provided with plenty of artillery.
Gen. Meade had sent word for the 6th and 24th corps who were near Farmville, to cross the river and attack Lee from that side with a view of crushing his army. Lee had, however, destroyed the bridges, the Appomattox was too deep to ford, the pontoon trains had not got up, consequently the two corps mentioned were unable to render the Second any assistance, else it is more than likely that Appomattox would not have become famous in history.<br>
While waiting for assistance the Second corps did considerable manoeuvring. About 5 o’clock firing was heard in the direction of Farmville which Gen. Humphreys assumed was the 6th corps. He immediately contracted his left line and pushed out on the right intending to flank the enemy if possible.<br>
The execution of the movement left our division face to face with Gen. Mahone’s and Gen. Anderson’s troops who were formed in close column supported by Poague’s ten gun battery, who were in a position that enabled them to give us (as the boys used to express it), h—ll with grape and canister trimmings thrown in.<br>
Our regiment came to a halt in a dense growth of small pines and waited for orders. Some of the officers went out in the edge of the woods to look around and as they came back Capt. Mike Foy danced a little jig as he said: “Boys there’s another wagon train for us over behind the rebel lines.” Poor, brave Foy, who had fought his way up from the ranks, little realized that he and scores of others would go down in less than fifteen minutes.<br>
Our brigade had the right of line and were the first to advance across an open rolling field in full view of the enemy. The troops came to a halt in a little ravine and the bugles sounded “Fix bayonets!” Then an advance was made and when about 50 rods from the enemy the bugles sang out “Forward—double quick, charge!”
The cheers of our men were answered by the rebel yell, the real old genuine “Ki, yi, yi, yi!” that all veterans remember so well. Then a tongue of flame leaped from all along their intrenchments, and all other sounds were drowned with the roar of cannon, the crash of musketry and the whizzing and screeching of grape and canister.<br>
Some of the troops reached the enemy’s works in the face of tremendous odds and fought to the death. But they were unsupported by other troops as well as artillery, consequently they had to retreat. The 5th New Hampshire had all of their colour guards killed after reaching the rebel intrenchments and lost their colours, but they were recovered by the 81st Pennsylvania.
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