1862 : Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock Becomes National Hero or Not

December 11, 2021 all-day

Robert Henry Hendershot, the Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock

Robert Henry Hendershot was twelve years old when he joined the 8th Michigan Infantry on August 19, 1862. However it was at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 11, 1862 that he became famous. Robert answered a call for volunteers and ran to help push the boats. He had just crossed the river when a shell fragment hit his drum and broke it into pieces. He quickly picked up a musket and began to fight. When he encountered a Confederate soldier, Robert was able to capture the man as a prisoner.

He soon became known as “the Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock” and a poem and a play were later written about his exploits. His status as a hero in the North allowed him to tour widely, putting on drumming performances and telling of his experiences.

For another account, see Donald C. Pfanz, Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock, The Free Lance-Star Publishing Co. of Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

Wikipedia entry, with bibliography or additional readings.

Richard Bak, “Michigan’s Little Drummer Boys of the Civil War”, Hour Detroit, December 2011.

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