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The Drummer Boy

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For the story

It always scares me whenever I cross the old stone bridge going to our house in the nearby woods, especially during nighttime. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of young James Wilkeson, a drummer boy who was killed during one of the battles that occurred here in the American Civil War.

According to some stories, Wilkeson was a member of a regiment band which was present during the battle. While the fighting endured between the two sides, the band played music which filled up the air. Suddenly, an artillery round struck the dirt just meters to where they stood. Wilkeson, being the nearest to the impact, was hit in the neck by shrapnel, causing him to lose a tremendous amount of blood which led to his untimely death.

They say his ghost wanders the bridge, usually during late hours. Some have reportedly seen him. My cousin saw him herself one night. She was going to our house until the boy appeared on the bridge in front of her. She described him to be medium in height, brown hair and blue eyes. The cut on his neck caused by the shrapnel was also visible. He had his uniform on, not a single hole nor tear, all neat except his collar. A portion was torn and had blood stains on it.

He also had his old 1863 rope tension snare drum slung on his side. Some of its ropes had snapped off and it was riddled with holes and scratches due to the fragments made by the explosion. The batter head had holes on it as well. It also had blood splattered all over it, covering it almost red.

People from their homes would sometimes hear drumming coming from the bridge late at night. They believe it was him beating on his nearly dismantled drum. Sometimes, when at the bridge, they would hear the same noise but the boy was nowhere to be seen. Some have heard him sing songs as well. The song they hear most was the "Minstrel Boy", a Civil war era song. They believe it was the song he and the band played when the shell struck.

I've heard all these stories as a kid. Until now, I have not seen him. It still scares me though, whenever I go home, crossing that old stone bridge. I've always feared that I would encounter him one time, on a late night, while beating on his drum. I've seen many things that gave me enough terror, and seeing him would be my greatest terror yet.

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