USS Shiloh Hosts Civil War Drummer Lesson at Yokosuka Middle School

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Walston, USS Shiloh Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan – Members from the Shiloh National Military Park of Shiloh, Tenn., and Sailors from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), hostedan interactive video teleconference for the seventh-grade students of “Team Shiloh” at Yokosuka Middle School, Dec. 13.

The teleconference from the national park provided a lesson on military drumming commands used during the Civil War, including during the Battle of Shiloh.

Chris Mekow, a Shiloh National Park Ranger, broadcasted from the visitor’s center, taught students the military drumming commands and their importance to battle operations before modern communication technology such as radios.

The middle school students received a Civil War-style drum kit before the event. The kits included a tin can, drum skin, and drum sticks. Each student decorated his or her drum kit with patriotic symbols prior to the event.

161213-N-EM227-005 YOKOSUKA, Japan (Dec. 13, 2016) Sailors from the forward-deployed Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser and students from Yokosuka Middle School pose for a photo after a Civil War Drum lesson. Shiloh is forward deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Dale Duncan/ Released)

161213-N-EM227-005 YOKOSUKA, Japan (Dec. 13, 2016) Sailors from the forward-deployed Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser and students from Yokosuka Middle School pose for a photo after a Civil War Drum lesson. Shiloh is forward deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Dale Duncan/ Released)

“We found that having the students make their own drums and learn the cadences during the instructional period reinforced learning about how a commander communicates on the battlefield,” said Dale Wilkerson, the National Park’s superintendent.

During the Civil War, drums were used to signal various commands to the troops. Cadences were used to signal to the troops to charge their enemy, fire their weapons, or retreat. The typical minimum age requirement for battle drummers during the time period was 16 years old, but the youngest drummer to serve was an eight-year-old boy named Avery Brown. Another drummer, who fought and died in the Battle of Shiloh, is buried in the park’s National Cemetery. He was 18 years old.

Officers had the opportunity to participate in the event as well, alongside the middle school students and enlisted Sailors.

“This was such a fun opportunity to interact with our Team Shiloh Middle Schoolers,” said Ensign Alyson Eng, a junior officer on board Shiloh. “I’m so grateful they let me play the drums with them! This makes me want to learn the Civil War and our ship’s heritage that much more.”

The teleconference was a unique experience for members of the three Shiloh namesakes, who were able to connect with the community and to learn about their Shiloh military heritage.

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