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Tin Bugle

Tin Bugle in the Illinois State Military Museum
1301 North MacArthur Blvd
Springfield, Illinois 62702

Thanks for their kind permission to share photographs

During the Civil War the bugle became the predominant signal instrument in the Army surpassing the fife and drum. Most all bugles were made of copper, brass or German silver. There are instances of presentation bugles made of silver.

I have come across a few instances of references to bugles made of tin. These are said to have been used by the Confederate Army.

The first written record of this was in January 1, 1866 in the Adjutant Generals Report.
“A tin trumpet, taken from a Chief Bugler of a Virginia Cavalry unit by the
16th Illinois Cavalry in or around Jonesville, VA on November 29, 1863.
According to the report the rebels lost 21 officers and men killed, 21
prisoners taken along with 85 stands of arms and 15 horses.”

Photo credit: Illinois State Military Museum
Photo credit: Illinois State Military Museum
Photo credit: Illinois State Military Museum
Photo credit: Illinois State Military Museum

Description of the Bugle:
This is an unusual upright tin bugle made of tin tubing soldered together at
right angles. The tubing consists of six pieces. The bell measures 6.25
inches in diameter, while the largest measurements across the width of the
bugle is 8.75 inches. The small mouthpiece measures only .75 inches in
diameter. The mouthpiece has been repaired. There are a number of small dings and dents throughout the bugle.

I’m always suspicious of these type of bugles as I’m sure bugles were available for use in the Confederate Army. I’ve not seen any contemporary photos of soldiers with tin bugles. However with shortages during the war perhaps they were forced to use tin bugles. I don’t know for sure.

I’m left wondering if they are indeed real or example of folk art
Here is a horn from my collection

A shop in Gettysburg was also selling a Confederate tin bugle

So, we are left to wonder. If anyone has any information on these Tin bugles, please let me know. You can email me at

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