It was just a small detail, and it was just a small lie. The bigger picture was that he had been called to serve by Mr. Lincoln himself. It did not really matter…he was 14 years old, but he swore he was 17. He was small in stature at only 4’11” with a dark complexion. He was called to be a drummer boy in the 87th Regiment, Illinois, Company I. He was ready to make a contribution. Yes, sir, Private David W. Grubbs was ready to serve! He enlisted in August, 1862.
At first, David was required to learn many drum calls. These calls would direct his fellow soldiers on the battlefield. David was intelligent and could easily memorize these. He would not be carrying a weapon. Second, he had to prepare himself for other duties on the field. When the battle commenced, he would move to the rear to stay away from the shooting. He could be killed or wounded. He could be asked to assist medics in getting the wounded to safety. He could be asked by the surgeons to assist in amputations and other surgeries. He could be asked to hold down patients. He could be asked to dispose of discarded limbs in piles. David was a farm boy and had witnessed butchering on his homestead, but he had never before witnessed the slaughtering of other humans. The young boy was required to be mature and steadfast…no small tasks for anyone.
In July, 1865, Private Grubbs was mustered out. He was 17 years old. He went back to his family’s farm. Seven years later, he would marry and start his family. Did he tell his children any war stories? He would die at the young age of 47.