Online Collection

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Side drum, Russian Infantry, 1854

This Russian side drum was captured by Corporal John Larking of the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) at the Battle of the Alma, during the Crimean War (1854-1856). Its capture is commemorated in an engraved inscription on the drum. The twin headed spread eagle depicted on the drum is a common symbol in heraldry and vexillology (the study of flags). Originally used in Byzantine heraldry to represent the dual sovereignty (secular and religious) and dominance of the Roman Emperor over both the East and West, it was later adopted by the Russian tsars to position themselves as successors to the Byzantine state and to symbolize their power over Europe and Asia.

Drums have been used on the battlefield throughout history. They were used to wake soldiers in the morning, to call soldiers into formation, to report for duty and other routine exercises, but most importantly drums were used on the battlefield to communicate orders and signal troop movement. Side drums, also known as snare drums, were used because the piercing sounds they produced could cut through all the battlefield noise.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1951-12-35-1


National Army Museum Copyright


National Army Museum, Study collection

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