Fife, Maple Our fife is made from maple with brass ferrules and packaged with instruction sheet. The fife itself is a simple, six-hole flute that has traditionally been used
for military purposes. Paired with a side drum, the fife was used to
give signals to soldiers for all parts of their daily activities.
The following U.S. Army Regulations of 1861 and the revised regulations in 1863 provided the following guidance for musicians:
The general superintendent will cause such of the recruits as are
found to possess a natural talent for music, to be instructed (besides
drill of the soldier) on the fife, bugle, and drum,
and other military instruments; and boys of twelve years of age, and
upward, may, under his direction, be enlisted for this purpose. But as
recruits under eighteen years of age and under must be discharged, if
they are not capable of learning music, care
should be taken to enlist those only who have a natural talent for
music,and, if practicable, they should be taken on trial for some time
before being enlisted.
Regiments will be furnished with field music on the requisitions of
their commanders, made, from time to time, direct on the general
superintendent; and, when requested by regimental commanders, the
superintendents will endeavor to have suitable men elected from the
recruits,or enlisted, for the regimental bands. Original maple and brass fife belonging to Principal Musician B.B. Scott of the 72nd Illinois. He served from August 1862 until being honorably discharged in August 1865.
Unidentified soldier in a Union uniform with a fife in front of a
painted backdrop showing a pastoral landscape. The Civil War was the
last conflict in which military bands played on the battlefield. There
were more than 400 Union bands and 125 Confederate bands. (Photo Credit:
Library of Congress)