The “Rogue’s March”

This photo was taken in July or August of 1863 at Morris Island, South Carolina. It depicts the practice of “drumming out” (dishonorably discharged) a soldier, always to the tune of “Rogue’s March.” Being drummed out consisted of having the head shaved, the uniform stripped of all buttons and insignia and then paraded in front of the remaining soldiers. In this photo, the man is wearing a sign which reads:

“THIEF. This man, Benj. F. Ditcher, 55th Mass. Vol’s, STOLE MONEY From A Wounded FRIEND.”

The "rogue's march" - drumming a thief out of camp

The "rogue's march" - drumming a thief out of camp

The tune “Rogue’s March” dates back to at least 1812, where it appears in “A New, Useful and Complete System of Drum Beating” by Charles Ashworth. In comparing 7 different manuals from 1812 – 1862, the music remained unaltered, with the exception of Bruce and Emmett’s version, in which the order was changed.

I have included the drum and fife parts for the “Rogue’s March” from Hart’s manual (1862). Special thanks to Will Chappell for his assistance in deciphering the drum part.

“Rogue’s March” – Fife and Drum Combined, Fife Only, Drum Only. (These will be added to the Resources page.)

A higher resolution of the above image is available from the Library of Congress.

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