Civil War Fife with Original Pewter “Cheater” or Mouthpiece


Civil War Fife with Original Pewter “Cheater” or Mouthpiece – During the Civil War, there were principally three musical instruments that were utilized on the battlefield – the field or snare drum, the bugle and the fife.  Additional instruments were played in camp settings, while some regiments boasted full bands for use in parades and as entertainment, away from the battlefield. As an instrument with long time, military use, the fife was  essentially a flute, with a limited range of notes. Prior to the Civil War, the fife maintained battlefield significance, as it was pitched so high that its sound carried over many of the sounds of battle. By the time of the Civil War, enhanced weaponry and larger battles produced more noise, thereby rendering the fife obsolete for its original purpose, relegating it to use on marches. Civil War period infantry regiments were allotted two musicians, per company – a fifer and a drummer. Company fifers and drummers would remain in the field, even after bands, at the regimental level, were abolished, in 1862, often serving under the direction of a Chief Musician, in a regimental, drum corps. Besides providing signal calls in camp, supplying martial music for dress parades and march music, regimental musicians were directed to assist company medical teams, on the battlefield and in field hospitals.

This fife is constructed of a dark, rosewood, with wide polished, white metal or silver ferrules, at each end. To assist the musician, an original, pewter “cheater” or mouthpiece is bracketed in place. The fife remains in superior, playable condition and is approximately 17” in length.