William C Reiff, 'A boy hero: a young drummer made of the right kind of stuff'.

A boy hero

[source: National tribune 3 August 1905, page 3, columns 1-2]
[I have proofread this page]


A boy hero: a young drummer made of the right kind of stuff

Editor National Tribune: A Philadelphia boy, George Black by name, was less than 12 years of age at date of enlistment and muster in to service as a musician, in the Fall of 1861. His father, George W. Black, was First Lieutenant of my Co. H, 91st Pa. Our division (A. A. Humphrey's) of the Fifth Corps made the final charge against Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, Va. on Saturday evening, Dec. 13, 1862.

Young Black insisted upon keeping in the front line and as near his father as the conditions allowed. When remonstrated with by his company fellows to retire, he responded that wherever his father went there he would go, too. This he did, though his tent-mate, Jim Thompson, took hold of the little fellow and threw him to the rear of the line; yet Black still pushed on, and went as far as the division as a body advanced. Out of less than 300 men in this command over 100 lay upon that bloody slope, either killed or wounded. Father and son both escaped the enemy's missiles. May following found father and son along with the writer in the woods at Chancellorsville. While advancing into the woods to meet Longstreet's veterans young Black was again with the company and near his father. The devoted boy was urged by others and the writer to retire. Again he said he would go where Father went. The writer stopped long enough to seize the boy and throw him to the rear a few feet, and there we got down to solid business for about two hours, and I lost sight of him until the end of that time. His father, however, received his death wounds that day, and thereafter the spirited boy was filled with sorrow. Later on, near Culpeper Court House, Black prevented a stampede of our forces by placing his horse midway of the road and firing shot after shot into the head of the retreating column. A shell burst, killing his horse, wounding the lad in one wrist, and the horse falling upon him broke the other arm. Later on the hero of our tale could be seen upon the streets of Washington City with both arms in slings. Much more could be written concerning this lad that would interest the patriotic young people of this day, but time and space forbid.

--William C. Reiff, Carlsbad, N. M.


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