Old Dick, the Drummer

            Dick, a venerable darky in uniform, was arrested at Richmond for carrying a huge bowie-knife. He was on his return home to Danville from a campaign against the Yankees, and the Mayor discharged him after confiscating the knife.

            He occupied the position of chief drummer for the Eighteenth Virginia regiment, and was highly esteemed by the regiment, not only as a musician, but as a brave and gallant old man. He is a hero of two wars, and in several instances rendered good service to the country. When the war with Mexico broke out, he enlisted as musician for a South Carolina regiment, and followed it through the war, and was present when the glorious Gen. Butler fell. The war being successfully terminated, he returned home to his usual avocations. Upon the breaking out of the rebellion though old and gray, he was among the first to respond to Virginia's call for volunteers, and was regularly mustered into service with the Eighteenth regiment.

            In the memorable battle of the 21st July, 1861, he deserted his drum, and, with musket in hand, followed the regiment throughout the battle. Several days after the battle, while strolling through the woods, he discovered the hiding place of what he thought a Yankee, and on reporting it, went down with several of the regiment, and captured three of the enemy —one of them Col. Wood, of the Fourteenth Brooklyn. In every scene of danger or of difficulty, Old Dick accompanied the regiment with bowie-knife by his side and musket in hand. When on picket duty at Mason's Hill, in sight of the enemy, he would go beyond the picket lines to get a fair crack at the Yankee pickets. In fine, Old Dick is a gentleman and true patriot, and it is wrong that his knife, around which clung so many proud associations to him, should have been taken from him. He valued it above all things except his musket. It is true, the law may have required its confiscation, as setting a bad example to darkies in civil life; but under the circumstances, it does seem hard to have subjected the old man not only to the loss of his bowie-knife, but the mortification attendant on a suspicion of evil designs.

Hit Counter visitors since 07/06/2004
Page updated 08/12/2004.