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The Grave of the Shiloh Drummer Boy - TravelStorys

Explore Kirksville

Location Trip Time Travel Type
Missouri 2 hours

The Grave of the Shiloh Drummer Boy

“Sound the long roll!” cried Captain Madison Miller on the night of April 5th, 1862—the eve of the Battle of Shiloh. A young Missouri boy, George Wall Smith, was the first drummer to respond. He began the long roll, calling the Union to battle. Other drummers soon joined him, and the troops marched into one of the most pivotal battles of the American Civil War. Drummer boys weren’t allowed to fight. They had no weapons. But young George Smith fetched a weapon from a sick soldier at the Union camp and rushed to the front. When Captain Miller saw the boy with the troops he ordered him back to camp. But the other soldiers, impressed with Smith’s courage, prevailed upon their leader to let him stay. The drummer boy fought bravely through the day, until he fell in the late afternoon, wounded in his shin. Unable to walk, he crawled to a nearby stream and filled his canteen with water for his fellow fallen soldiers, both Union and Confederate. Two days later, still lying wounded and waiting for rescue, Smith was almost killed by a blow from a Confederate’s saber, but another rebel soldier, who Smith had befriended, stopped the attack. The boy was wounded twice more in further battles and discharged in 1864. He lived a long life, smoking a reported twenty cigars a day. Three streets in Kirksville are named for him: George, Wall and Smith.

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