North Carolina

Field Musicians

This is an enlarged portion of an image featuring the “Iredell Blues,” a pre-war volunteer militia company in the city of Statesville, NC, circa 1860.  Here we see two fifers, a snare drummer, and a bass drummer dressed in elegant uniforms of white pants and plumed hats.  Notice one of the fifers is a “lefty,” holding his fife out to the opposite side of his face than his fellow musician.

Musician Calvin C. Miller

Company B, 37th Regiment NC Troops

Calvin Miller, a farmer from Watauga County, NC, volunteered as a private at the age of 24 on September 14, 1861 and was promoted to a field musician (fifer) on March 1, 1862.  Miller was captured at Hanover Courthouse on May 27, 1862 and exchanged on August 5.  He was captured again at Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863 and exchanged ten days later.  Miller was reduced to private after December 31, 1864, probably because his company needed all able-bodied men to carry a musket.  He deserted to the enemy on February 26, 1865 and was released after taking the Oath of Allegiance.

Here we see him with instrument in hand-- judging from the length, a fife in the key of Bb.


The "Forsyth Rifles" in camp near Danville, Virginia - 1861

Company D, 11th Regiment NC Volunteers, mostly from the Moravian settlement of Salem, North Carolina (in present day Winston-Salem). The two drummers are believed to be James A. Reich, age 29, and Calvin T. Wren, age 22. Both enlisted as Musicians on May 22, 1861. Reich, listed as a fifer, is believed to be the snare drummer in this photo. Calvin Wren served with the regiment until the end and was paroled in April 1865. Reich transferred to Company B, 1st Battalion NC Sharpshooters in April 1862 and was reported present and accounted for through December 1864.

This image shows The Duplin Rifles, an eastern North Carolina pre-war militia unit, two years before the war. The musicians appear to be younger boys judging from their short height compared to the other soldiers. It is not known whether the musician behind the bass drum is a fifer or another drummer.


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