Civil War Drummer William Trumbore


The teal Army greatcoat of William Trumbore of Easton is on display in the Sigal Museum, along with a full-length photo of an adult Trumbore wearing the coat.Image

As a lad of 16, Trumbore volunteered for the Union Army shortly after the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861. He traveled to Boonton, N.J., to join the 4th New Jersey Regiment, part of the 4th New Jersey Brigade.

Young Trumbore soon became known as “Billy the Drummer Boy.”  Billy served in the Army a total of five years, four months and 21 days, retiring with the rank of first sergeant.

Drums were an important asset to any Army unit. In addition to keeping a steady drum tempo for the marching troop, the drummer often issued commands on the battlefield. Drum orders could be heard over the noise and confusion of battle.

Trumbore’s drum is on display in the military area at the Sigal Museum.

Following the Civil War, Trumbore returned to Easton. He formed his own drum and bugle corps and played in several Lehigh Valley bands. He became drum major for a group known as the Easton Grays.

Trumbore was recognized as the drummer for the Grand Army of the Republic. In this capacity, he took pride in playing his drum over the graves of 1,198 of his Civil War brothers in arms.

Trumbore died in May 1917, having drummed for the last time only 15 days earlier.

Submitted by Elaine Greek.

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