ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Drummer Boy of Chickamauga - Johnny Clem

Updated on March 26, 2013

As a young boy, I can remember hearing family stories about an ancestor of mine who was the youngest person to enlist for the Union Army during the Civil War. It was told that he lied about his age and joined, becoming a Drummer Boy and later a Civil War hero of sorts. Walt Disney even made a movie about him "Johnny Shiloh" starring Brian Keith in 1963. One time my grandfather had in his possession a uniform supposedly worn by Johnny Clem. I can remember seeing it. He donated the uniform to a museum, but I don't know which one.

He was born in 1851 as John Joseph Klem. Our family name used to be Klemm but has now evolved to Clem. He reportedly changed his name to John Lincoln Clem because of his admiration for Abraham Lincoln.

He was rejected in May of 1861 when he tried to enlist in the 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry but later that year somehow made it into the 22nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry as a Drummer.

Much has been written about my ancestor, so I will summarize.


What was the role of a drummer?

The drummer was used to sound out orders from the commanders in the heat of battle. An identifiable drum roll represented an order, that, if shouted, could be lost or unheard in the heat of battle. The soldiers had to learn the drum rolls for attack, retreat and other common battlefield commands. The drummer boy was much more than a mere mascot. Victory or defeat depended on effective communication and coordination of the troops.


His drum was destroyed by a shell fragment in the battle of Shiloh. He carried a musket in the battle of Chickamauga, where his legendary reputation was born. He was in the thick of the battle and reportedly 3 bullets passed through his hat. When a Confederate Colonel chased him down on horseback trying to capture the fearless little soldier, Johnny blew him out of the saddle with his musket, leaving him dead in the dirt. For this battlefield bravery he was made a Sergeant and placed on the roll of honor.

He was discharged from the Army in 1864 at the age of 13, but rejoined in 1871 with a commission from president U.S. Grant (who incidentally is an ancestor of mine also). He retired in 1915 at the rank of Brigadier General and the last Civil War Veteran on active duty in the armed forces. One year after his retirement, he was promoted to the rank of Major General, by and act of Congress.

He died in 1937, in San Antoino Texas and is buried in Arlington National Cemetary.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • 4wardthinker profile image

      4wardthinker 

      5 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA

      What a great story! I didn't know about all of this history. Thanks for writing about it.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)