Thomas Sparks, 18, was a drummer who served with three of his brothers in the 59th Georgia Regiment. After being wounded Sparks was wounded and taken prisoner in Gettysburg, he was sent to a Union hospital, paroled and back with his unit in February 1864. Sparks was in battle at Cold Harbor when he laid down his drum and picked up a rifle, being captured again by Union troops. His drum was left on the field and he was separated from it until a 1915 news article sought the owner. Sparks was re-united with his drum in January 1916.
Willie Johnston was 11 years old when he joined the 3rd Vermont Infantry. Following the fierce fighting and retreat of the Seven Days battles outside Richmond in June 1862, Johnston was noted as being the only drummer in the division to return with his instrument. Recommended by General William F. Smith, Willie was 13-years-old at the time he received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. He was the youngest recipient of this award.
Johnny Clem is one of our Nation’s most famous musicians. Serving with the 22nd Michigan Infantry at the Battle of Chickamauga, Johnny was credited with shooting a Confederate officer who demanded his surrender. For his gallantry, the 12 year old was promoted to sergeant. Johnny retired as a Major General in August 1916 and was the last active serving Civil War veteran. Clem is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.
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