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Drum, Richard Coulter - Brig. Gen.


Richard Coulter Drum was born in Greensburg, Westmoreland Co., Pa., in 1825, and from the Greensburg Academy graduated to Jefferson College, where, after spending a short time in the acquisition of the higher studies, he commenced the study of the law, having managed in the interim to pick up the very exemplary trade of the printer. From these pursuits he was awakened by the sound of the bugle from the Rio Grande, where his brother, Capt. Simon H. Drum, was already serving with the Fourth Regular Artillery, and shouldering his musket as a private soldier on the 8th of December, 1846, he entered the Mexican war as a member of Company K of the First Pennsylvania Volunteers. Scarcely two months later, on the 18th of February, 1847, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry and assigned to the Ninth, in which he performed such gallant and meritorious services before Chapultepec on the 13th of September as to gain him a brevet, an event that was saddened by the untimely death of his brother, who met his death the same day in the famous assault upon the Belen Gate. At the close of the war he was transferred to the Fourth Artillery and ordered to Florida, his regimental comrades including such names as Pemberton, Getty, A.P. Howe, Garesche, Garnett, Mansfield, Lovell, Fitz-John Porter, Couch, and Gibbon, and where he awaited his promotion, which met him at Fort Sumter on the 16th of September, 1850. During the next decade his services were marked by stirring episodes and flattering marks of approbation. He fought with Harney in the perilous Sioux expedition, and as aide-de-camp to that gallant veteran aided to maintain the peace during the Kansas disturbance of 1855. In November of the following year he was appointed an aide to Gen. Persifer F. Smith, and acting assistant adjutant-general of the Department of the West, and at his death, two years later, he rejoined his battery at Fort Monroe, where he was made adjutant of the post, and on the 16th of March, 1861, was transferred to the adjutant-general’s department with a captaincy by brevet. This merited promotion, which sent him with Gen. Sumner to the Presidio, was unfortunate in the respect that it removed him from the scenes where his knowledge of the practical tactics of war would have been of the greatest value to the government, to an isolated command where the duties and dangers were great, requiring management of the most delicate character.

The necessity of holding open the overland route to travel, of repressing the tendency of the Indian tribes to revolt at a time when the resources of the government were severely strained in the States, of watching the covert hostility of the Mormons, and holding the Mexican frontier against incursions from the South, where Maximilian and Bazaine had secured a threatening foothold, were duties that called for the most dextrous management and the most thorough comprehension of the situation. How well he performed these duties, and with what satisfaction to the people of the Pacific coast, was shown by the fact that at the termination of his service, on the 1st of October, 1866, a sum of money exceeding $40,000 was raised at San Francisco and presented him as a testimonial of their appreciation. While in California he was promoted, on the 3d of August, 1861, to the rank of major in the adjutant-general’s department, and on the 17th of July, 1862, to lieutenant-colonel.

Returning East, he was made adjutant-general to Gen. Meade, whom he accompanied a month later to the Third Military District, where he rendered no unimportant aid in the arduous duties attending the reconstruction of the States of Georgia and Alabama. After turning over these States to the civil authorities Gen. Drum attended Gen. Meade to the new Department of the South, where he remained until March 20, 1869, having been promoted to a colonelcy on the 22d of February, and later to the Division of the Atlantic, with headquarters at Philadelphia. On the death of Gen. Meade he continued as adjutant-general to Gen. Hancock, who succeeded him, where he remained until the 26th of November, 1873, when he was sent to the Division of the Missouri at Chicago, where be remained until the 2d of May, 1878. During the labor riots of the summer of 1877, Gen. Drum again found occasion for an exercise of that personal judgment and sound discretion which had characterized his administration at San Francisco. The threatening emergency found both Gens. Sherman and Sheridan absent on the plains, far beyond the reach of the telegraph, a howling mob in the streets of Chicago, crazy with the tidings of the success of their fellows at Pittsburgh, and a like impending fate hanging over the city. Aware of his ability, the War Department placed upon Gen. Drum the full power and responsibility of maintaining the public peace. Without an instant’s hesitation he collected all the regular and militia forces within reach, seized the gas and water-works, planted Gatling guns at strategical points, and patroled the city with bristling bayonets, and by such prompt and vigorous measures checked and dispersed the mob without firing a gun, and before it could effect the slightest damage to person or property. For these services he received the public thanks of the people and the highest commendation of the War Department. On the 2d of May, 1878, he was ordered to Washington, where he remained until the retirement of Adjt.-Gen. Townsend on the 15th of June, 1880, when, without political influence or personal effort, he succeeded to the vacancy amid general approbation of the appointment.

Gen. Drum signalized his entrance into office as adjutant-general of the army by one of the most important moves in the history of the War Department. Recognizing the importance of the uniformed State militia as the nursery which in time of war must be called upon to furnish the officers to organize and command the volunteer forces, and with a view to assimilate the rules and forms governing both the regular army and the militia, he addressed a letter to the adjutants-general of the States, in which he expressed the warmest desire to be of service to the State forces, and intimating the propriety of sending them copies of all general orders issued from the War Department. The responses to this overture of friendship and cooperation were most hearty and unanimous. "It is a happy augury for the future of this country," remarked Gen. Jones, of North Carolina, "when high officials of the government begin to recognize the true relations between the regular army and militia or National Guard. It is an indication that the men who now shape and control public affairs are returning to the wisdom which prevailed with those who laid the foundations of this republic, and leads me to believe that the militia may yet become what it was originally intended to be a thoroughly organized, disciplined, effective force, a sure and permanent bulwark of national defense." "I have to thank you for your extreme courtesy in this matter," writes Gen. Berry, of Massachusetts, "and to express again my pleasure at the interest taken by you, an interest which is so much needed, and which will tend to raise the standard of the organized militia throughout the country." "Your arguments and conclusions," said Gen. Backus, of California, "are worthy of the distinguished officer and gentleman who now presides over the adjutant-general’s department of the United States army, and are such as would be expected from a gentleman who, while assistant adjutant-general of the Department of California, so successfully administered affairs as to leave pleasant remembrances and a host of friends."

A year later this initiatory step was followed by issuing to the States, upon requisition, the tactical works and blank forms and books prescribed for the regular army, as still further assimilating the management, drill, and internal government of the two forces, while regular officers have been detailed to inspect the camp and troops of the militia at their annual musters. The importance of this step cannot be overestimated, and the progress of the National Guard towards that discipline and development which is imperatively demanded of the great factor of success will date from the moment when Gen. Drum, as adjutant-general of the army, extended the helping hand of the national government.

In private life Gen. Drum presides at the head of one of the most charming households in Washington. He married, during his subaltern days in Louisiana, the daughter of Gibbs Morgan, of Baton Rouge, a notable Southern family, our present minister to Mexico being a brother to Mrs. Drum, who is now one of the most popular and accomplished ladies in society, and has two daughters, one a widow and the other a recent debutante. Their home is a large and substantial pressed-brick house, situated on K Street, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth, in the centre of fashionable Washington, and is an attractive example of the modern architecture, involving carved brownstone and brick trimmings, stained window-glass, with halls and parlors finished in natural wood, and the whole furnished with elegance and taste.

It remains to be added that the general is about five feet nine inches in height, with a complexion that is florid, and hair and moustache gray and grizzled as becomes a soldier, and will weigh not far from one hundred and forty. To quote from a recent sketch, "he dresses in extreme good taste in civil costume, is quick in his movements, writes rapidly, decides quickly, knows a soldier when he sees him, works hard, is cautious in his manners, has a friendly smile and a quick frown, is not particularly religious, is given to fishing as a diversion, does not quarrel with the good things of this wicked world, and, take him all in all, he is a charming gentleman, a good officer, a true friend, and an admirable adjutant-general."***

Military History of Brig.-Gen. Richard C. Drum, Adjutant-General of the United States Army.— Enrolled as a private in Company K, First Pennsylvania Volunteers, Dec. 8, 1846, and was mustered into service Dec. 16, 1846. Served with his regiment in the war with Mexico (being engaged in the siege of Vera Cruz) until discharged at Vera Cruz, Mexico, March 17, 1847, having been appointed a second lieutenant, United States Infantry, Feb. 18, 1847; second lieutenant, Ninth Infantry, April 9, 1847; transferred to the Fourth Artillery, March 8, 1848; promoted first lieutenant, Fourth Artillery, Sept. 16, 1850; brevet captain and assistant adjutant-general, March 16, 1861; vacated commission of first lieutenant, Fourth Artillery, May 14, 1861; major and assistant adjutant-general, Aug. 3, 1861; lieutenant-colonel and assistant adjutant-general, July 17, 1862; colonel and assistant adjutant-general, Feb. 22, 1869; and brigadier-general and adjutant-general, June 15, 1880.

Breveted first lieutenant Sept. 13, 1847, for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Chapultepec; colonel, Sept. 24, 1864, for meritorious and faithful service during the war, and brigadier-general, March 13, 1865, for faithful and meritorious service in the adjutant-general’s department during the war.

Service: Joined the Ninth Infantry, May 19, 1847, and served therewith in the war with Mexico (engaged at the battles of Contreras, Churubusco, Molino del Ray, Chapultepec, and Garita de Belen) to July, 1848, when he joined the Fourth Artillery, and served with that regiment en route from Mexico to Fort Monroe, Va., to Aug. 14, 1848; at Fort Monroe, Va., to Oct. 21, 1848; Fort Pickens, Fla., to April 25, 1849; Baton Rouge, La., to June 4, 1850; on leave to Oct. 20, 1850; on detached service with light battery to March 11, 1851; with regiment at Fort Columbus, N.Y.H., to May 23, 1851; on detached service conducting recruits to Fort Kearney, Neb., to July 21, 1851; with regiment at Fort Columbus, N.Y.H., to Aug. 12, 1851; Fort Johnston, N.C., to June 6, 1852; Fort Brady, Mich., to October, 1853; Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to May 25, 1855; on detached service as acting commissary of subsistence of a battalion of the Sixth Infantry en route to Fort Kearney, Neb,, to July 1, 1855; with regiment in the field, Nebraska Territory, on expedition against hostile Sioux Indians (being engaged at the action of Blue Water, Neb., Sept. 3, 1855), to Oct. 20, 1855; aide-de-camp to Gen. W.S. Harney, commanding the Sioux expedition, to Nov. 10, 1856; aide-de-camp to Gen. P.F. Smith, commanding the Department of the West, also acting assistant adjutant-general at headquarters of that department to May, 1858; with regiment at the artillery school, Fort Monroe, Va., from June 4, 1858 (also post-adjutant of school from September, 1858, to Jan. 9, 1860, and ordnance officer to April 21, 1860), to April 3, 1861; awaiting orders and en route to California to May 6, 1861; on duty as assistant adjutant-general at headquarters Department of the Pacific, San Francisco, Cal., to June, 1865; headquarters Department of California, to Oct. 1, 1866; headquarters Department of the East, New York City, from Dec. 27, 1866, to Jan. 6, 1868; headquarters Third Military District, Atlanta, Ga., to Aug. 1, 1868, and of the Department of the South to March 20, 1869; at headquarters Military Division of the Atlantic, Philadelphia, Pa., from April 3, 1869, to Dec. 16, 1872, and at New York City to Nov. 26, 1873; headquarters Military Division of the Missouri, at Chicago, Ill., from Nov. 28, 1873, to May 2, 1878; on duty in the adjutant-general’s office, Washington, D.C., to present date, June 16, 1880.

*** "Army and Navy Register," Feb. 4, 1882.

History of Westmoreland County, PA 1882

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