E. Dudley Scrugham
The Little Drummer Boy
In The Civil War
By Frieda Curtis-Wheatley - 2013
Ethelbert Dudley Scrugham was born June 23, 1849, in Fayette
County, Kentucky, to Joseph and Panthea Ewing Scrugham. In the
year 1860 Dudley was living with his maternal grandparents.
The Confederate States of America's Second Kentucky Infantry
Regiment, a part of the First Brigade, was organized July 13,
1861, at Camp Boone in Tennessee. They were encamped for three
months undergoing strict military training. The men served on
foot until 1864 when they were mounted on horses.
E. Dudley Scrugham enlisted in 1862, at the age of 13, in the
Second Kentucky Infantry Co. I, as a musician. He is listed as
a drummer on the Company Muster Roll, as being present August
1, 1862, to October 31, 1862, at Camp Murfreesboro. He is also
listed as being in the same place for the next four months. During
this time he enlisted for a period of three years.
Young boys, too young to fight, were allowed to join the Union
and the Confederate Armies during the Civil War as drummers.
Drums were used daily for communication. Each series of drum
beats had a special meaning and were used to announce reveille,
assembly, breakfast, sick call, guard duty, drill duty, lights
out, etc. Part of the drummer's duty was to march alongside to
keep the men in step while on a march. His important job began
during the noise and confusion of battle. With the shells bursting,
cannons firing, and the horses and wounded screaming, it was
impossible for the soldiers to hear the spoken orders. Keeping
near his commander, the drummer began beating out his signals
of maneuvers. The "long roll" was the signal to attack.
He had a signal for the soldiers to load their weapons and a
signal to fire their weapons. The drummer also sounded retreat.
The young boys were expected to help carry the injured off the
battlefield. The drummer boys played an important and dangerous
part during the war.
Pvt. Dudley Scrugham accompanied Gen. Braxton Bragg on his raid
into Kentucky in 1862. Dudley was present at the Battle of Murfreesboro
(Stones River) in Tennessee on December 31, 1862, until January
2, 1863. General Bragg was stationed on the east bank of Stones
River with his Rebels, while Gen. William Rosecrans converged
with his Union soldiers from the northwest.
Both armies slept New Year's night with the greater part of the
field in the possession of the Confederates. The cold morning
of January 2nd showed the Union still entrenched instead of on
the road to Nashville as General Bragg expected. Between the
Confederate attacking lines and the Federal position lay open
grounds of fields and pastures, in full view of the Union batteries
on the opposite side of the river.
At the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River), located a mile
east of Murfreesboro, 12,906 Federals and 11,739 Confederates
became casualties. A grateful Lincoln thanked Rosecrans and his
men for "a hard earned victory," but other opinions
were that few battles had cost more and gained less. Brig. Gen.
Roger W. Hanson was injured in the charge at Stones River, and
later died. Hanson's Second Kentucky lost 108 men out of 422
engaged. The battle ended with neither side a winner. Pvt. Dudley
Scrugham was injured in the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River)
and left a cripple but remained in service until the close of
the war. As General Breckinridge rode through the carnage, with
tears in his eyes, he was heard to say, "My poor Orphans.
My poor Orphans." With these words he gave the little band
of men everlasting immortality throughout the annals of time.
The Orphan Brigade moved on to Manchester and Tullahoma, Tennessee,
to spend three months. The music of regimental bands, including
the drummers, provided diversion during this time of inactivity.
On March 20th a brigade was sent to guard warehouses at McMinnville,
On April 22, 1863, Pvt. Dudley Scrugham, a 13-year old drummer,
was taken prisoner along with 127 other Orphans at Morrison,
located south of McMinnville. Union Captain Stone was ordered
to proceed to the Tennessee capital of Nashville with the prisoners.
The prisoners arrived at Market House in Nashville, and from
there they were transferred to the large wooden Military Prison
in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, located on the north
side of Broadway between 10th and 11th Streets. The prisoners
arrived in Louisville on May 2, 1863. The little drummer boy
would spend his 14th birthday in a Union prison.
It is unknown if Dudley was released from this Louisville prison
and paroled back to his regiment or if he was held prisoner until
the end of the war. His obituary states that although he was
crippled he served until the end of the war. It also states that
Scrugham was the youngest member of the Orphan Brigade.
By the year 1875, E. Dudley Scrugham, was living on Chestnut
Street in Louisville. In the ensuing years he is listed as a
clerk/druggist. In the year 1900, Dudley, 50 years old and single,
lives with his sister, Mary E. Anderson, and her husband, Jasper,
a storekeeper, in Jefferson County.
Between the years of 1902 and 1906, Dudley Scrugham moved to
the Confederate Home at Pewee Valley in Oldham County, Kentucky.
The Confederate Home, the former Victorian-style summer resort
Villa Ridge Inn built in 1889, opened for the veterans on October
23, 1902. The three-and-one-half story building, surrounded by
extensive verandas, contained 92 rooms. The Confederate and the
United States flags were unfurled to fly above the home. The
ornate sign, now at the Pewee Valley Confederate Veterans Cemetery,
graced the main gate to the home. A walkway led from the home
down to the railroad tracks. Fire destroyed most of the Confederate
Home buildings on March 25, 1920.
E. Dudley Scrugham, 57-years old, died September 10, 1906, of
tuberculosis at Louisville's City Hospital, after a stay of four
months. He had been taken to the hospital from the Confederate
Home for an operation. He is buried in Jefferson County's Cave
Hill Cemetery next to his sister, Mary, and her husband. (Section
5 Lot 63). The Orphan Brigade veterans participated in the service
as the former drummer boy was laid to rest.
Information: Confederate records, Box 319, Roll 87 LPL; Courier
Journal 9-10-1906; History of the Orphan Brigade by E.P. Thompson
1898; Reminisces of a Soldier by Lt. LD. Young.
Frieda Curtis-Wheatley, 600 Hatherleigh Lane, Louisville,
KY 40222, shares this article with our readers.