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Two hundred years ago it was the fashion amongst many regiments to employ drummers from Africa and the West Indies. From reports of Generals visiting garrisons at various times, one learns that they were rattling good drummers too. The verdict of Major-General Sir William Howe, when inspecting the old 29th Foot at Dover in 1774, reported the fact that the drummers and fifes "beat and play well." One may well believe that, in the carrying out of their strenuous duties, these drummers made their presence felt , since there were no less than ten of them. Seventeen years later, another General put the same regiment through its paces at Windsor, bluntly remarking in his report that "The drummers black, beat and play well." Africa was not the only land to which the military authorities looked for likely candidates for bands. The West Indies was also a good source of drummers as well.It was from this archipelago that the old 38th, now theStaffordshire Regiment, obtained most of its drummers, not altogether a matter for surprise considering the regiment was quartered there for almost sixty years. When its turn for departure came in 1765, it retained a squad of three black boys, but whether all the chosen ones relished the idea of leaving their native soil is nor recorded. Since the archives of certain regiments reveal the fact that at various times a "slave' was posted to the drums, one may infer that the transfer in many cases was a hlessing in disguise for individual concerned. The Royal Fusillers was another marching regiment in which the foreign element was rather prevalent, all its drummers being blacks during the last nine years of the last century. An Army Inspection Return of 1776, shows that a black kettle-drummer was employed by the 3rd Hussars at that period. "Bush" Johnstone of the 4th Hussars, was well respected and like the kettle-drummer and the trumpeters of the same regiment, he was an Indian, and, during the regiment's twenty-year stay in the "Shiny East", he held a proud position immortalised by Thomas Hardy, the Trumpet-Major. 'Bush' paraded for the last time with the old 4th Light Dragoons in 1842, when it is fairly safe to assume that the coloured element in our cavalry had disappeared. Rumour has it that a few Militia units could boast of one or two black mulatto musicians as late as the Crimean War, but in confining this survey of the innovation as practised in the Regular Army, one is met with all manner of conflicting statements concerning the identity of the last black drummer, the manner of his exit, and the year in which he made his last bow to an admiring world. The early 1840's could only muster a handful of these gentlemen, and the death in India on 15 July 1843, of George Carvell, the last black drummer of the "Ever-sworded Twenty-ninth", removed one of the very last of this unique section of British Army musicians. Sources: The Negro Drummers of the British Army (J Paine); Foreign Army Bandmasters, Their Rise and Fall (Henry George Farmer)