DRUMMER MELVIN ALLEN BROWN Co. G 122ND ILLINOIS, FIGHTING FORREST IN WEST TENNESSEE

$2,950.00

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Item Code: 1139-38

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This very clear 6th plate tintype shows a young Union drummer in a regulation infantry musician’s frock coat, standing with his snare drum hanging from a drum sling around his neck and holding his drumsticks with tips on the drum head, ready to play. This comes from the collection of Ray Richey of the Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, and is identified as Melvin Allen Brown, Co. G 112nd Illinois. The case bears several pencil inscriptions behind the image that are now too rubbed to make out clearly, but the name Brown remains visible.

Born 7 October 1843, he was one of some eleven children of Ryderius and Hannah Brown in the town of Virden, Macoupin County, Illinois. His father is listed as a house carpenter in the 1860 census and he, age 16, is listed as a farmer. He enlisted as a musician at Virden on 15 August 1862 and mustered into Company G of the 122nd on September 4, the date of the regiment’s muster into U.S. service. The regiment moved to Columbus, Ky, in October and then to Trenton and Jackson, Mississippi, where they were involved in protecting Union supply lines in the Vicksburg Campaign. Brown’s time with the regiment spans their first combat in December 1862, against Forrest in his raid into West Tennessee, where one of his main targets was the Mobile and Ohio railroad between Columbus and Jackson. They were in skirmishes on December 19 and December 30, and on December 31 were in the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads, where Union troops tried, vainly, to block Forrest on his return trip, a battle costing Brown’s regiment 23 killed, 58 wounded and 1 missing, a pretty heavy toll for their first real engagement. From January 31 to February 17, 1863, they remained at Trenton and then moved to Corinth, where they joined the 16th Army Corps. There, little more than two weeks later, Brown died of disease March 3, 1863. He lies in the national cemetery at Corinth.

This is a great image of a Union drummer wearing regulation forage cap and musician’s frock with the “gridiron” front used to identify musicians. The photographer very lightly touched his buttons with gold but did not add anything else other than a dot of gold on what seems to be the pommel of a musician’s sword just visible in the crook of his arm at right. The drum shows nicely, angled as it would be for play, showing clearly its plain body, heads, rims, flesh hoops, rope and tighteners. The image is housed in its original floral-embossed leatherette case with mat, glass, frame and facing pad in place. The case is in good condition, but with a slight tear to the hinge at top.

This would make a great addition to collection 122nd material and would perhaps be even more desirable for a display of Civil War drums, musicians, or infantry gear. Even after bands mostly disappeared at the regimental level, company musicians like Brown remained in the ranks and formed a regimental drum corps throughout the war.  [sr] [ph:m]

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