Reedsburg’s Civil War Drummer Boy

Excerpted from the 1998 book Reedsburg Remembers 150 Years

by Dorothy Douglas Parent


Frank Pettis (1850-1918) was 11 when he enlisted in the army as a drummer boy during the Civil War. At the age of 12 he began military service with his teacher, Captain A. P. Ellinwood, in the 19th Infantry, Company A. He served from Feb. 22, 1862 to Aug. 9, 1865.

Pettis was with his Captain in every battle in which their unit was engaged, from Suffolk, Va. and Newberne, N.C., to the Siege of Petersburg and on to Richmond, Va., where the colors of his regiment were the first to float from the Confederate capital building.

After the Civil War, Pettis returned to Reedsburg. First he helped in his father's tailor shop, but at the age of 20 learned the miller's trade. He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Reedsburg Drum Corps until his death on Aug. 15, 1918. At his funeral the Reedsburg Drum Corps with muffled drums preceded the hearse to the Greenwood Cemetery where he was buried near his Captain.

Pettis left five children. One of his direct descendants, Richard Curtis Knight, lives near Rock Springs.