28th NEW JERSEY PAINTED REGIMENTAL EAGLE DRUM IDENTIFIED TO DRUMMER AARON BUZZEE, COMPANY K: FREDERICKSBURG AND CHANCELLORSVILLE!

$7,500.00

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Item Code: 766-1858

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This Civil War regimental eagle drum has a totally original painted designation to the 28th New Jersey and drummer Aaron Buzzee of Company K. The regiment enlisted for just nine months service in Fall 1862, but found itself in two momentous battles: Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Buzzee mustered into U.S. service to date Sept. 22, 1862, and served until muster out with the regiment July 6, 1863. Stryker lists him as the only musician in his company and the National Archives index to the compiled service records of soldiers from New Jersey lists him not only as a musician, but specifically as a drummer.

This drum was once in the collection of the well-known and highly regarded art and antiques dealer Peter Tillou, who had a great eye and an appreciation of history. No label is present inside, but judging from the paint, the drum is by Horstmann, the pre-eminent 19th century U.S. military goods firm. They supplied the army in the 1840s - 1850s and saw a massive increase of business with U.S., state, local, and private entities and individuals during the Civil War, including orders for 200 infantry drums in October 1862; 1,000 in September 1863; another 500 in June 1864, etc. The design shows a common Horstmann rendition of the regulation arms of the U.S. showing an eagle with simple stars around its head and neck, with a rays of the sun rising from behind an arc of clouds overhead, with a U.S. shield superimposed on its chest and clutching arrows and an olive branch in its talons. Also in keeping with Horstmann, the standard designation “REG: // U.S. // INFANTRY” was painted in white on the forked-tail red ribbon that passes through the eagle’s open mouth. In this case, the regimental numeral “28” was then added before the “REG:” and the drummer took advantage of the empty blue canton of the U.S. shield to have his name, “A. BUZZEE,” added in thin white letters as well.

A house-painter by trade (a painter’s apprentice in the 1860 census,) Buzzee lived his entire life in New Brunswick, NJ, born 19 December 1842, the son of Isaac and Catherine Buzzee, shown as a resident of New Brunswick in all the census records starting with those of 1850 and up through 1900, and died there 14 January 1907. He was active in the regimental veterans’ association. In 1906 he was one of some fifty members at the 20th annual regimental reunion, was listed as from New Brunswick, and was elected one of the organizations vice presidents that year.

Buzzee enlisted on 29 August 1862 and was mustered into Co. K as a musician as of Sept. 22. The regiment left the state on October 2 or October 4, sources differ, and arrived in Washington October 5. Their initial service was in the defenses of Washington (the Military District of Washington) as part of a provisional brigade in Casey’s Division, essentially an organization for training and equipping new regiments, until December 1. At that point they marched to join the Army of the Potomac at Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg. Assigned to the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Division of the 2nd Army Corps, part of Sumner’s “Right Grand Division,” they lost 29 killed, 47 wounded, and 8 missing in Burnside’s doomed assault of December 13 by Civil War Data’s count, but closer to 200 overall according to “The Union Army.” In May they crossed the river at the United States Ford and were posted at Bullock’s Farm as a rearguard. They were posted in rifle pits and on a skirmish line on May 2, but first saw fighting on May 3 when they were detached from the brigade and advanced 500 yards with their skirmishers engaged with the enemy until flanked and forced back, losing, among others, the lieutenant colonel commanding the regiment. “The Union Army” gives their total loss in the fighting as 30. With the expiration of their service they returned to New Jersey for muster out on July 6, having lost at total of 51 in killed or mortally wounded, plus many other wounded who managed to recover to some degree. This was a severe loss for the regiment’s short service. Buzzee recorded his service as 10 months and 8 days.

Buzzee had married shortly before enlisting and fathered three daughters before the death of his wife in 1872. He remarried in 1874, fathering another daughter and a son. His wife outlived him by thirty-three years, dying in 1940.

The drum is in good condition, but was shortened during its life, something pretty common as playing fashions changed, but this fortunately preserved most of the original paint with rubbing from the rims showing just across the top of the sun rays and along the lower edge on the eagle’s talons, tail, etc., and the paint, while showing muted colors from age, is quite good.

The reason for the shortening (it now measures 13 by 16 ¾ inches) very clear from the white painted designation “GERMANIA / NEW BRUNSWICK,” added at top and bottom indicating the drum was being used by masonic chapter at some point. This has been left in place as part of the drum’s history, though a conservator might be able to remove it. The rope, heads, and tighteners have been replaced. The rims are old and show use, but may be old replacements, perhaps by Buzzee himself: they were not drilled for a drum rope and were clearly intended for metal hooks like those now on it- a much easier way to get the rims off if necessary. We note one hole drilled in the body of the drum in the painted area. It is not obtrusive and may have anchored a snare tightener or something like that. One of the vertical rows of tacks on the shell overlap is missing. The other is there, along with the decorative tack arrangement around the vent hole between. The vent hole itself has been inlaid with two different colors of wood to form a five-pointed star. Given Buzzee’s background in house painting, he may have been responsible for the added painted unit designation, his own name, and this small decorative touch. Whether he played the drum as a member of the Germania lodge is as yet unknown.

This drum has a great look and comes from an eminent collection with an ironclad identification. New Jersey Civil War material is scarce and sought after. This has eye-appeal and a history with some active service. [sr] [ph:L]

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