This letter was written by Sidney T. Bates (1833-1904) who served in three different regiments during the Civil War:
- 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, Band; b. Essex, Vt.; age 28; res. Hooksett; enl. Sept. 9, ’61; must. in Oct. 26, ’61, as 3rd Class Musician; disch. disab. May 14, ’62, near Richmond, Va.
- Bates, Sidney T., 17th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, Co. C; b. Essex, Vt.; age 30; res. Pelham, cred. Pelham; enl. Dec. 10, ’62; must. in Dec. 18, ’62, as Priv.; tr. to Co. A, 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, Apr. 16, ’63; must. out Oct. 9, ’63.
- Bates, Sidney T., 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery, Co. D; b. Essex, Vt.; age 32; cred. Concord; enl., Sept. 3, ’64, for 1 yr.; must. in Sept. 11, ’64, as Musician; must. out June 15, ’65.
His obituary reads:
The deceased was born, reared and educated in the state of Vermont, near Lake Champlain, in sight of the historic old Fort Ticonderoga. His boyhood surroundings imbued his spirit with so strong a patriotic fervor that at the age of thirteen years he left home and kindred and enlisted as a drummer boy in the United States army, then engaged in a war with Mexico, and was stationed on Governor’s Island, in New York harbor. Being an excellent performer on the snare drum, he was detailed for duty on the island, much to his regret, as he preferred that his drum beats should be heard by the soldiers in Mexico.
After several months of close confinement on the island, he apprised his widowed mother, by letter, of his whereabouts, when his uncle (his guardian) secured his release from military service on a writ of habeas corpus.
Young Bates then went to learn the printing trade, at which he remained until the bombardment of Fort Sumter reverberated throughout the land in April, 1861, when he laid down his stick and rule, and. taking up his drum, joined the Second New Hampshire Infantry Regiment, then responding to President Lincoln’s call for troops to put down the rebellion. After serving three months “at the front,” he re-enlisted in the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment for three years, and was with that famous regiment in the many heated battles fought by the Army of the Potomac. Near the close of the war he again re-enlisted in the Fifteenth New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. When Richmond was taken and Lee surrendered, thus bringing the civil war to a close, this brave soldier was mustered out, there being no further strife between north and south.
Veteran Bates then secured a position in the government printing office at Washington, D. C, but subsequently went to Jacksonville, Fla., where he established and edited a daily newspaper during the “reconstruction days.” Returning to Washington, he was again employed in the government printing office as proofreader; but soon becoming tired of Washington life, he moved with his family to Akron and obtained employment with the Werner Printing Company. Carrying a typographical union card, Mr. Bates affiliated himself with Akron Typographical Union No. 182, and for many years was one of its most attentive and influential members. Several vears since, being of an unsettled disposition, he again returned to Washington and took up his old position of proofreader, once more becoming a member of Columbia Typographical Union No. 101. His health failing, he recently returned to Akron, where he remained but a short time, when the printer, the author, the soldier heard the muffled drum summoning him to join his departed comrades in the bivouac of the dead.
In literature, the pen of Mr. Bates has given the reading public many poems of merit, books of fiction, and magazine articles breathing of elevating thought for humanity.
In consideration of his patriotic citizenship, manly worth and unswerving fidelity in the cause of organized labor. Akron Typographical Union recognizes in Brother Sidney T. Bates an exemplary life worthy of emulation.
Source: Typographical Journal, Volume 24. International Typographical Union., 1904
Battery Cameron, D. C.
November 30, 1864
Col. [Charles Hatch] Long
I did not have an opportunity to say to you all that I wished in regard to my being Drum-Major of your regiment.
Col. Ed. L. Bailey of the Old “Second” recommended me to Col. Bell for that position and said of me in his letter to him, that I was the best drummer that he had ever heard, and, from his own knowledge of a drum-major’s duty, was every way qualified.” Col. Bell promised me the place, but when I found that you and Col. Barton were to be commanders of this regiment, I immediately enlisted into it, relying upon your knowledge of me to get me that place here. I came into the service for the third time during the war hoping to be identified otherwise than as a simple company musician. The bounty, pay, etc., which I shall receive for my year will not amount to so much as I could get at home by two hundred dollars—and this will show you that money had no influence in my case.
I should like to be drum-major of this regiment for I have an ambition to get up a Drums Corps such as I belonged to in the U. S. Service when a boy of 14 years old. I have never yet seen two drummers that were able to perform the duty of a company drummer unless he had practiced in the U. S. schools.
I have a friend with me for a fifer who is decidedly the best one in the regiment and I think superior to any that can be found in this vicinity, and is known and distinguished from all others by his excellent execution and clean and loud tone. Speaking of him as I know and feel, I will say that your choice for a Major-Fifer can not fall upon a more competent or worthy man. Mr. Charles T. Summers ¹ (the man I am speaking of) is, also, a thoroughly drilled man in the manual of arms, and understands very well the movements required in battalion drill. We have had assurances from nearly every officer in the regiment that we should get the places of Drum-Major and Fife-Major. He is also a veteran, and I think if competency and merit has anything to do with it, we are entitled to the place. I think that you will find that the officers of your regiment will recommend us. Three companies drew up a request directed to you in my favor, but I have deferred sending it—or, rather sent it to Mr. Pickering of Concord, who received it, I think, too late to hand it to you before you left for Washington. So far as recommendations go, I can get you the best men in Concord to endorse for me.
Will you help us? Respectfully, — Sidney T. Bates
Co. D, [First] New Hampshire Heavy Artillery
I would suggest that it would be a good idea to let the different company musicians each take turns and play you a “Tattoo” at your headquarters at the time for playing it, and give to those who can practically demonstrate their superiority in the knowledge of the business the two warrants. — S. T. B.
¹ Charles T. Summers served in Co. D., First NHHA. He was 29 years old when he enlisted as a fifer in September 1864 to serve 1 year.