Talented Tuesday: Abram F. Springsteen and His Civil War Drum, Part 1

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Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Artifacts are an important part of our family’s history. They tell the story of what was cherished, and what was well used in the workday world. Some objects tell both stories, such as the above drum of Abram Furman Springsteen (1850-1930).

Previous posts have discussed the life of Abram Springsteen and how he ran away from home to join the Union Army as a drummer boy. But how did he get to that point at the ripe old age of ten?

Apparently, from a very young age Abram loved to bang on things with a stick. Kitchen pans, “wash boilers,” pails, or anything that would make a sound that pleased his ears became a drum to him. He actually had the talent to produce a rhythmic beat, unlike many toddlers. By the age of six his talent was so good that his family would “exhibit him as an infant phenomenon at church entertainments and Fourth of July celebrations.”

Abraham Lincoln 16th U.S. President (1861–1865), via Wikipedia. Public domain.
Abraham Lincoln 16th U.S. President (1861–1865), via Wikipedia. Public domain.

Little wonder then, that when the call to arms came from President Abraham Lincoln in April of 1861, the enthusiasm of boyish war games took hold of Abram, and he ran away from school. He found a recruiting officer who would pay him to beat his drum outside the office, hoping to get the attention of strapping young farmers and laborers coming into town for supplies; he also got the attention of schoolboys and businessmen, and helped to increase the number of men enlisting for Union service in the Civil War.

Jefferson Springsteen (1820-1909) must have remembered his spirt of adventure at the same age- he had, after all, run away from home to join the circus- and he and his wife Anna (Connor) Springsteen (1824-1887) were probably hoping it was just a phase.

However, as Abram saw the young men go into the recruiting office as farmers, laborers, etc., and come out as soldiers, his yearning to be a part of their company would have increased to dangerous levels for a ten year old. School could never be as exciting as what was going on in the real world, and Abram hatched a plan to be a part of that excitement.

To be continued…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “Hoosier Youngest Civil War Soldier,” by Louis Ludlow, in The Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, page 4, columns 1-3, via GenealogyBank.com.
  2. “Wash boilers” are just what they say they are- a big sheet metal pan for boiling clothes as part of the washing process. Many of them were oval with high sides, and antique wash boilers are often used to hold magazines or firewood inside. Copper wash boilers are especially beautiful and coveted as they have a fantastic patina after years of being put over a fire.
  3. “Diary of Abram F. Springsteen” transcription, done by family members. Thank you for sharing!

 

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