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York’s 87th Regiment musicians still playing 30 years later


The present-day Spring Garden Band traces its existence back before the Civil War. The group of musicians served as the 87th Regiment band during the war. I found this September 1, 1892 York Daily clipping in the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives files. It lists the members and their instruments that went from civilian to military life:

The article also tells of the hardy group of still close veterans who formed an alumni band over 25 years after they were mustered out. The act of Congress alluded to below decreed that only one band was allowed to a brigade. Union brigades were usually made up of two or three regiments, so the 87th musicians were no longer needed.

Of its Nineteen Original Members Sixteen Answer Roll Call

Sometime during the month of September 1855, a musical organization known as the Spring Garden band sprung into existence, in what is now known as East York. This organization was effected in an old carpenter shop owned by Mr. Jacob Miller, by the election of all the necessary officers, with Mr. William Frey as leader. Regular weekly practice and careful attention to first class instruction soon brought the band into good repute and gave it a first-class standing among the musical organizations of this and other States.

The great civil war having broken out in 1861, the band enlisted as a body and became part of the noted 87th Regiment and received the name of the old 87th Regiment Band, a name it bears with marked distinction to this day. The band served until sometime in August, 1862, when by an act of Congress it was discharged.

When enlisted the order of instrumentation was as follows: W. Frey, leader, 1st E b cornet; John Lehr, 2nd E b cornet; Harry Frey, 3rd E b corner; Henry Blum, 1st B b cornet; William Wygant, 2nd B b cornet; Geo. Luft, 3rd B b cornet; John Frey, 1st alto; Jacob Gilbert, 2nd alto; John L. Sheffer, 3rd alto; John Blum, 1st tenor; Edward Blauser, 2nd tenor; John Miller, 1st baritone; William Rupp, 2nd baritone; Emanuel Frey, 1st basso; Calvin Gilbert, 2nd basso; Christian Bender, bass drum; Thaddeus Slentz, cymbals; Geo. Bush, Snare drum; John Zimmerman, snare drum; John Joice, cook.

Of the above members, three have since died, viz: John Zimmerman, William Wygant and Geo. Luft. One of the members, Mr. Harry J. Frey of the old 87th, is a member of the present Spring Garden band, which is an offspring of the old organization. As had the old band, so has the present one, a reputation which is not confined to this State alone.

About four years ago the band held a reunion, at which time it was re-organized and now meets for practice once every month.

At this date, about 27 years after the close of the war, sixteen out of the nineteen men answer to roll call once each month, a record that we believe is equaled by few such organizations in any State in the Union. Well may the boys feel proud of it; and not only they, but the citizens in general, for having among them such an organization.”