In Memory of the Rhode Island Drummer Boy. Rev. Thompson. P. Ege, poet John G. Whittier.

In Memory of the Rhode Island Drummer Boy.

Gettysburg, PA: National Memorial Church of the Prince of Peace, [ca. 1885]. Illustrated circular, 8.9” x 5.25”.

An unrecorded illustrated circular honoring a drummer boy slain at the Battle of Gettysburg whose drum-turned-beehive was eulogized by poet John G. Whittier.

Told here is the poignant story of the (unidentified) Rhode Island drummer boy who died far from home and his mother at the foot of Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg. After he asked a nurse Mrs. Judge Fisher of York, PA to “kiss me before I die,” Fisher “kissed his pale cheeks, and tenderly held him in her arms till his spirit had fled.” As stated here, the boy’s bereaved mother came several times in search of his body which did not turn up until 1867, when it was sent to his home in Providence, R. I. His broken drum was found near him by farmer Jacob Weikert who turned it into a bee-hive (as illustrated here), which for sixteen years was used in this “strange and significant employment.” The poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892), hearing of this “peaceful use of the drum in 1869, wrote the following beautiful lines suggested by it.” The first two stanzas read as follows: “In the old Hebrew myth, the lion’s frame, / So terrible alive, / Bleached by the desert’s sun and wind became / The wandering wild bee’s hive; / And he, who lone and nakedhanded, tore / Those jaws of death apart, / In after time drew forth their honeyed store, / To strengthen his strong heart. / Dead seemed the legend; but it only slept / To wake beneath our sky; / Just on the spot whence ravening Treason crept / Back to its lair to die, / [bounds,] Bleeding and torn from Freedom’s mount’n / A stained and shattered drum / Is now the hive, where on their flow’ry rounds, / The wild bees go and come.” (Judges 14: 5-18).

This circular was produced by Rev. Thompson P. Ege (1835–1912). After a teaching career and serving as president of Irving College, Ege entered the ministry of the Episcopal church in 1883, filling parishes at the Prince of Peace in Gettysburg (the town’s local Episcopal church), Germantown, and Philadelphia. He worked at the Prince of Peace until at least 1890 and was active in social outreach. Three notes appear below the poem stating 1) a memorial table with drum in relief will preserve this incident on wall of Baptistery in the Memorial Church of the Prince of Peace; 2) all contributions made and collected by the children through the aid of the miniature drums are to be devoted to the memorial Baptistery in the church, including stained-glass window, font, brass standards and rail, and tablets, as their tribute to their honored dead, and so commemorated on a tablet, set in Baptistery wall; 3) descriptive circular of all other memorials, windows, pillars, tablets, etc. sent on application.

No copies recorded in Worldcat.

REFERENCES: "Dr. T. P. Ege." Adams County News (Gettysburg, PA, 30 Mar. 1912), p. 6.

CONDITION: Very good, minor wear.

Item #6948