A soldier comments on the importance of the fife and drum corps while on march towards Gettysburg. Excerpted from: Leaves from the Battlefield of Gettysburg: a Series of Letters From a Field Hospital.
Letter from a young Officer of the 118th Reg. P. V. written on the Battle-field.
AT A HALT NEAR GETTYSBURG.
July 2, 1863. Thursday noon.
"We started at 5 1/2 o'clock P. M., to make a march of some fifteen miles. The men being chafed and footsore, the march was painfully made. The Colonel kept the drums and fifes beating and playing continually, which was the only thing that kept the men up. It is singular how inspiring music is to a used-up soldier."
Read the full entry belowMore... I wrote you last from bivouac near Myersville, Md., on the 30th, which letter as yet I have been unable to mail. At 10 A. M. on the 1st of July we left bivouac near Myersville and marched towards the Pennsylvania line. As soon as we had passed the line, the colors were unfurled and the drums were beaten, and three times three cheers were given for the Keystone State. The men seemed imbued with new spirits. In fact everybody seemed in a good humor; all were determined to give the rebels a rough shake for their impudence. We took the road leading toward Hanover. At every assemblage of houses we passed by on the road, the drums were beaten, and the regular step was kept. When within half a mile of Hanover, we halted and stacked arms, and preparations were made to remain all night. We had just got comfortably fixed, when orders were received to push forward to Gettysburg. This order was anything but agreeable to us; all hands were completely tired out by continued marching. We started at 5 1/2 o'clock P. M., to make a march of some fifteen miles. The men being chafed and footsore, the march was painfully made. The Colonel kept the drums and fifes beating and playing continually, which was the only thing that kept the men up. It is singular how inspiring music is to a used-up soldier. We passed through the towns of Cherrysburg and Brushtown, and halted at 12 1/2 o'clock P. M., about five miles from Gettysburg, and turned in, with orders to move at five o'clock in the morning. At 4 1/2 o'clock this morning, we were routed up and marched to within three miles of Gettysburg. We then struck a road leading to the Baltimore turnpike. We could hear heavy firing toward Gettysburg. We were formed several times in line of battle on the right of the road, and then moved to the left and formed in line of battle, and ordered to rest, from which rest I write you. We are at present on the second line of battle, the First and Twelfth Corps being in the first. The rebels are in possession of Gettysburg at present, and our pickets are on the outskirts.