In the song The Little Drummer Boy, the child played his drum because he didn’t have a gift to bring for the newborn Jesus, so he offered it as his gift instead. However, the Drummer Boy of Chickamauga used his drum (later replaced with a musket) to show his fearlessness amidst the war.
John Joseph Klem was born to immigrant parents in Newark, Ohio, in 1851. He later changed his name to John Lincoln Clem because he admired President Abraham Lincoln. When the Civil War broke, he was 9 years old, so he left school and tried to enlist himself as a drummer-boy in the 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Unsurprisingly, he was rejected like a kid trying to play on his iPad at night after mom and dad shut off the wi-fi.
Clem did not let rejection stop him, so he tried to enlist on a few more units until the 22nd Michigan Infantry Regiment allowed him to tag along with them. Other accounts say it’s the 24th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Whichever it is, the fact that he was accepted at the age of 10 still remains. He was the mascot and drummer boy of the infantry, and the soldiers chipped in to pay him $13 a month, knowing that the army would not pay him. They also paid to fit him out in a uniform in his size. After two years, he was officially allowed to enlist since he had already been battle-proven. By that time, he was already gaining fame as he had already participated in numerous battles, where three bullets passed through his hat.