Judge Bullard playing his fife, now donated to the Adams Historical Society.
ADAMS, Mass. — Two sisters in search of information about a Civil War ancestor have gifted the Historical Society with an instrument he carried through the Civil War.
The fife will be on display Saturday afternoon during a concert of Civil War-era songs in the Grand Army of the Republic Hall on the top floor of the Adams Free Library.
Society member Eugene Michalenko said the acquisition of the 150-year-old fife really came out nowhere and all started with the women's visit to the GAR Hall, one of the few left in the state.
"They wanted to see the GAR Hall and they left their names because they were interested in their ancestor who was a member," Michalenko said. "Luckily enough, we still have all of the original application forms for those who wanted to become members."
Michalenko said he found a man named Judge Bullard enlisted as a private in H Company, 27th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, in August 1862. He re-enlisted in January 1864 and was later captured by Confederates and held as a prisoner in South West Creek, N.C., in March and April of 1865.
Bullard played the fife in the drum corps during this time. He left the service at the end of the war in 1865 and joined George E. Sayles GAR Post 126 in 1874. The GAR was the first national veterans group and was largely made up of former enlisted men. It was established in 1866 and dissolved in 1956 upon the death of its last member. It had nearly a half-million members at its peak.
Michalenko said he wrote the two sisters with this information (one lives in Rhode Island and the other lives in Colrain) and they wrote back.
"They got back and said they have this fife that has been in their family and no one wanted it," he said. "They wanted to find a home for it and they figured this would be the best place."
The sisters had a photograph of an elderly Bullard playing the brass-tipped wooden fife.
Michalenko said two days later he was reading an article about Shades of Gray, a Civil War-era camp band and thought it would be a good idea to bring them to the GAR Hall where the fife will be on display.
"I said, wow, I have to get these guys to Adams," he said. "I always liked to listen to historical music, so I booked them."
Michalenko read from the article that more music came out of the Civil War than all the other wars combined and he is urging people to attend and take a step back in time.
"It is a great opportunity to see what it was like to be a soldier during the Civil War and the room is spectacular alone," he said. "People always forget about it and it's worth it for anyone who wants to step back in time."
The concert is at 2 p.m. Saturday and is free and open to the public. Michalenko said it will conclude in time for Mass at 4 p.m.
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