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The Field Music of the Carolina Legion strives to uphold one of the best musical impressions in the hobby of Civil War Reenacting, authentic in the tunes we play and our military decorum.  Currently, our ranks hold fifers and drummers from the 26th NC and 25th NC Regiments, all males ranging in age from teens to fifties. 

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In 1997, 26th NC Regimental fifers Bill Bynum, David Rotan, and Terry Triplett, along with master drummer Bob Greer, recorded “MUSIC ON THE MARCH:  Tunes of the American Civil War.”  The recording features some of our most popular tunes, as well as some rare selections, complete with several pages of liner notes explaining the history of each tune.  Available on CD or cassette tape.

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Click on the notes below to hear *wav file* clips from “MUSIC ON THE MARCH.”  Please understand that these clips are just low-resolution examples, and are not perfect quality, but will at least give you an idea of the recording. 

(Allow time to download-- may not play straight through the first time)

Adam Bell’s March

Col. Robertson’s Welcome

Come Dearest, the Daylight is Gone

Dixie Quickstep

History of Field Music


Parading new recruits for the Confederacy Woodstock, Virginia

Fifes and Drums had been used in European military service for centuries before finding their way to America with the first military occupations of the new colonies.  After being used a great deal by both sides during the Revolutionary War, Fife and Drum Music, or “Field Music,” reached its pinnacle during the War Between the States with the most complicated and intricate arrangements.  With the emergence of brass bands and bugles, the fifes and drums were eventually phased out of military service after 1865.

During the Civil War, however, Confederate and Union soldiers woke up, ate, marched, and went to bed to the sounds of fifes and drums.  Each company was supposed to include two field musicians, usually a drummer and a fifer.

Despite the popular image of the “little drummer boy,” most field musicians were no younger than other soldiers.  Service records for North Carolina musicians show ages ranging from 16 to 65 (plus only one 14-year-old whose father served with him as a musician).

Many regiments also had brass bands, but they were usually considered a special addition, playing for the more public events or for privileged shows and parades.  The fifes and drums on the other hand, were considered the indespensable “workhorses” of military music and played the important role of the army’s public address system.  The Field Music would play calls for Reveille, meals, fatigue duty, assembly, and lights out.  They would perform for ceremonies such as dress parades, inspections, and raising and lowering the colors, in addition to boosting morale on the march.  On the battlefield, musicians would often assist the medical staff and serve as stretcher bearers.


The Field Music of the Carolina Legion, as mentioned on our Home Page, is currently composed of members of the 26th NC and 25th NC Regiments.  Though some faces are newer than others, and some are with us no more, we have been performing fife and drum music for the Old North State for over TWENTY YEARS.  To date, our musician roster includes:


Bill Bynum - 26th NC Reg. Principal Musician

David Rotan - 26th NC Reg.

Terry Triplett - 26th NC Reg.

Jacob Wallace - 26th NC Reg.

** Also, RICHARD SAILEY occasionally serves as our DRUM MAJOR.  He is a direct descendant of the original drum major for the 26th NC Regimental Band.


Noah Raper - 25th NC Reg. Chief Drummer

Aubrey Raper - 25th NC Reg.  (Bass Drummer)

Joseph Ensley - 25th NC Reg.

Bob Greer - 26th NC Reg.

Clayton Rains - 26th NC Reg.

Ted Cooke - 26th NC Reg.


What We Play

Just like our Confederate ancestors, we borrow music from the original manuals of the time period published by Yankee sources.  These manuals include:

THE DRUMMERS’ and FIFERS’ GUIDE, by George C. Bruce and Daniel D. Emmett, New York, 1862.


HOWE’S SCHOOL FOR THE FIFE, by Elias Howe, Jr., Boston, 1851.

ARMY REGULATIONS FOR DRUM, FIFE, AND BUGLE, by William Nevins, Chicago, 1861.

AMERICAN VETERAN FIFER, Civil War tunes collected by Union Army Veterans, 1905.

The Drums we play are rope-tensioned reproductions with longer-lasting synthetic heads and snares made to resemble the original calf-skin and animal gut parts of period drums.  Our fifes are six-holed rosewood fifes tuned in the key of Bb.  Most of the instruments we play were manufactured by COOPERMAN FIFE & DRUM COMPANY of Connecticut.

Membership Requirements and other Nitty-Gritty Details

  1. To perform with the massed Field Musicians of the Carolina Legion, each musician must be an official paid member of one of the Legion’s regiments; either the 26th NC, 25th NC, 49th NC, or 6th NC Regiments.  Each musician must meet the rules and uniform requirements of their individual regiments.
  2. In order to maintain an authentic impression of Civil War soldiers, field musicians should be males over the age of fourteen (14).  Musicians under the age of fourteen may be allowed  to perform on a case-by-case basis only, relating to his size and physical ability, musical knowledge and skills, and parental consent.
  3. Each musician must be able to play a minimal requirement of tunes or cadences chosen and approved by the Principal Musician or Chief Drummer of the Legion.  Each musician’s instrument must meet specifications and sound quality as determined by the Principal Musician or Chief Drummer.  Those musicians who do not meet these requirements shall not be allowed to play with the massed Carolina Legion Field Music during public demonstrations but may be designated to their individual regiment as a “company drummer or fifer.”

Left:  Drum used by a NC drummer  Right:  Standard U.S. Regimental Drum

Although some of these requirements might seem strict, it must be noted that we are not just a Fife & Drum Corps formed to play music, but members of a REENACTMENT UNIT that strives to LOOK AND SOUND the part of realistic Civil War Field Musicians from North Carolina.

Unlike many musical groups, the majority of our performances are without pay, where we volunteer our time just like the other men in the ranks at Reenactments and Living History Encampments across the United States.  On some occassions we are asked to do special performances for a modest amount of pay.  For these events, participation is up to each individual member and we prefer to attend as “independent musicians for hire” rather than as representatives of the Carolina Legion or its member regiments.

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