Please Help Me Find Something I Read

It may have been a short story but I remember it distinctly as being a poem. If it is a poem it is most definitely NOT Drummer Hodge or Drummer Boy of Shiloh.

A soldier in battle draws a bead on and kills the young drummer (piper?) of the opposing force. At some point he is questioned about his decision to kill an unarmed boy.

His response is that the one who rallies the soldiers to battle is at least as dangerous (and culpable) as the armed soldier.

I read this about 30 years ago in school (don’t recall if it was in a collection or a xeroxed hand-out.)

Any help would be appreciated as I want to read it to a child of mine who doesn’t grasp that the one who incites the riot is as guilty as the rioters.



Maybe Kipling? :confused:

Should we really help you seek something, since you’ll only destroy it?

I did some searching but didn’t find a fictional fable (poetry or prose) concerning shooting the drummer boy. But this page on Quora has some interesting points of view on whether or not drummers were targeted in the American Civil War, including:

Thank-you guys for the efforts.

It is also possible the drummer is taken prisoner and is hanged with the other prisoners. As I say, it was over 30 years ago.

I do know for sure that the point of it was the equal culpability of the one who rallies the soldiers to fight.

That sounds an awful lot like the General’s conversation with the boy in Drummer Boy of Shiloh. You might want to read it through again.

On your suggestion I gave a closer look at the Bradbury story and that wasn’t it.

The poem (or story) definitely ends up with one dead drummer (piper) specifically because he was a drummer (piper.) The tone is not one of, “no small parts” but rather, “you kill with your drum (pipes) by driving and rallying the ones who kill directly.”

I appreciate the suggestion though, and I did read it because you are pretty sharp, but alas.

There’s Kipling’s short story The Drums of the Fore and Aft, but I don’t think it really fits your description.

Two drummer boys rally a broken regiment and are killed, but it’s not clear that they were killed deliberately.

Drummers (Pipers) incite wars?

Yeah, I read that one but it wasn’t it.


One of Aesop’s Fables, though it’s a theme others have touched on since.

I don’t know, you naughty boy…I’ve never kipled.

Thank-you very much. In my memory it was longer and I was older (I read Aesop’s at about 8) but that certainly captures every element of what I remember.

Thank-you again.

I’ve read a lot about the Civil War, and I’ve never read that musicians or drummer boys were ever targeted. Color-bearers and officers were, though.

I don’t believe it was meant as a factual account.

There’s this account from here:

That sounds pretty much spot on what remember.