[Robert's] regiment was stationed near the Seventh Michigan during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. On December 11, 1862, the Seventh was trying to cross the Rappahannock River under fire. Robert answered a call for volunteers and ran to help push the boats. He had crossed the river when a shell fragment hit his drum and broke it into pieces, so he picked up a musket. He encountered a Confederate soldier and, taking him as prisoner, brought him back to the Seventh Michigan. The story of a boy capturing a man made him a hero. Robert survived the war and toured the nation putting on drumming performances and telling of his experiences. Many poems were written about him; "The Hero of the Drum" is one of those poems.
This poem originally appeared in Robert Henry Hendershot; or, The Brave Drummer Boy of the Rappahannock, written by William Sumner Dodge and published by Church and Goodman (Chicago, 1867, pp. 156-158).
"The Hero of the Drum"