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    Description

    Drummer Boy Robert Hendershot Carte de Visite. 2.5" x 4", with a J.B. Smith, Utica imprint on verso. A full-length image featuring Hendershot in uniform and posed playing his drum in a studio setting. The mount is captioned, "R.H. Hendershot, Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock, at Fredericksburg."

    When the Civil War broke out, young Robert Henry Hendershot was determined to join the fight. His widowed mother may also have hoped that military life might instill some discipline in her delinquent son. He was a frequent runaway, and his aversion to school was such that he could not even sign his own name. Although his true age is in question, he was probably about twelve when, in the fall of 1861, a company from Hendershot's town left the state and headed to the front with Hendershot tagging along behind. In the fall of 1861, Hendershot was a fixture in the camp of the Jackson County Rifles. There, he incessantly practiced his drum calls, an activity that caused at least one recruit to call him "a perfect little pest." The officers repeatedly sent him home, but he was undaunted. Hendershot eventually joined Company B, 9th Michigan Infantry. In a skirmish at Murfreesboro, Tenn., he was captured and sent to Camp Chase, Ohio, to await exchange, but slipped away and re-enlisted in the 8th Michigan Infantry on Aug. 19, 1862, just in time for the Battle of Fredericksburg. There he went house to house, helping to rout Confederates. In one house, he encountered a Rebel with a shotgun, but Hendershot was able to force the man's surrender. He then personally escorted his prisoner to the Lacy House (Chatham), where he presented him to Gen. Ambrose Burnside.

    Hendershot remained at the front and was slightly wounded two days later in the Union attacks on Marye's Heights. As a result, he was discharged on Dec. 27, and his fame spread across the country. When he reached Washington, he was hailed as a hero, dining with President Lincoln and appearing as a guest at both houses of Congress. Later, when visiting New York, Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune presented Hendershot with a beautiful new drum. Capitalizing on the boy's popularity, showman Phineas T. Barnham engaged Hendershot to play his drum at Barnham's museum. In the years following the Civil War, a poem and a play were written about Hendershot, extolling his courage as the "Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock." From the Bret J. Formichi American Civil War Rarities Collection.

    Condition: Toned throughout with minor soiling at edges and on verso. Two small scratches at the upper right corner of the albumen. Small pencil notation on verso. Slight wear to corners. Overall very good.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 359

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