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Drumming out is the historical act of being dishonorably dismissed from military service to the sound of a drum. In modern figurative use it refers to any act of expulsion or dismissal in disgrace.[1]


The earliest recorded reference to drumming out comes in a figurative use of the phrase, in Thomas Amory's The life of John Buncle, in 1766: "They ought to be drummed out of society."[2]

The earliest known discharge of a U.S. soldier for sodomy involved the drumming out of Lt. Frederick Gotthold Enslin during the revolutionary war.

U.S. Civil War

U.S. Civil War officers drummed out of service might have their heads shaved and their uniforms stripped of insignia and be paraded in front of their comrades. Fellow officers were forbidden to touch the person being dishonorably discharged, but in more than one case after the war had ended, a drummed-out man was found dead after receiving a beating from his former comrades.[3] When someone was being drummed out, the tune "Rogue's March" would be played.[4]

Modern uses

At the Virginia Military Institute, cadets that are convicted of Honor Code violations are removed from the school and a formal announcement of the former cadet's offense is given in the morning after the corps is woken by drums.[5]


The opening to the 1965 NBC series Branded used the ceremony as the plot to series.


  1. "Drum". Retrieved 2008-09-13.
  2. "Drummed out of the army". Retrieved 2008-09-10.
  3. Robert Niepert. "Crimes And Punishments In The Civil War". Retrieved 2008-09-10.
  4. "Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 1, 1861". Harper's Weekly. Retrieved 2008-09-11. "Drumming out Albany volunteers who refused to take the oath."
  5. Matt Chittum (1997-03-09). "The honor code is 'simple and all-encompassing'". Roanoke Times. Retrieved 2010-01-01.


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