Bull Calithumpian and the Bloody 98th



On Monday the elite of the bulwark of the nation paraded through our streets, escorted by that justly celebrated, and truly musical ‘Band,’ ycleped the ‘Bull Calithumpian.’ Any attempt to describe this most grotesque burlesque must fall far short of the reality.

The field officers were mounted on old, blind, blear-eyed horses, the protuberance of whose ribs strongly reminded one of the fishing-racks that are set in the Susquehanna when the water is low. The Col. Commandant, wielded a wooden sword of 8 feet in length, in much the same manner as the Knight Templars perform their evolutions in encampment — on this sword was painted ‘death to the Militia System,’ — his dress defies description, his coat like Joseph’s, was of many colors, the two tails of it (for they were not skirts) nearly swept the ground as his ‘lame, halt, and blind,’ Rosinante jingled her bells in sweet concert to the more regular measures of the Callithumpians — his cap was profusely ornamented with tin cockades smeared with the blood of slaughtered thousands — his plume was from the Peacock taken — his housings were of divers kinds, but a large spotted bed quilt appeared to predominate in the main — his ponderous body appeared to say ‘a plague of sighing and grief, it puffs one up so.’

Another of the field officers had on a mask with a nose about 6 inches long, from which was suspended a tin kettle, he had sundry bumps upon his back painted with various devices among which we noticed an aligator eating a cow, and a man eating the aligator.

One had a loaf of bread hung to his back, and on his back was in conspicuous letters ‘bread baked here.’

On their banner was inscribed ‘Body Guard of State Senate,’ ‘Bloody 98th.’

We saw several Knight Templars caps, with their death’s head and bones. The costume of the rank and file displayed as much invention and keen ridicule as such burlesque can.

One was dressed in a Buffalo skin, on which was painted Tecomseh.’

Another had one of his coat sleeves of green, the other of yellow, half of the body of black, the other half of white, one skirt of blue, and the other of red color. One was dressed in the Highland form, the body of his frock was of blue, while the sleeves and skirts were of yellow color, on his back was too small packs, labelled with ‘priming and wadding.’

Their weapons were a complete omnium gatherum, pitchforks with their prongs twisted into various fantastical shapes, wooden-guns 15 feet in length, cutlasses and last, though not least, immense horns crowned almost every head, and bristled in angry defiance, along their invincible lines — some of their horns were ensanquined, and some wore the pirates darker hue.

But the unrivalled band, superceded the fighting men in ludicrousness. On their banner was inscribed ‘Unrivalled Fantastical Bull Callithumpian Band.’

The leader had his music book, (a German almanac) open in his hand, after he had selected his tunes from that very elegant compilation of Marches, Waltzes, &c he have the proper key by shaking a string of sleigh bells, upon this intimation of a choice, all the instruments of ‘Concord and Harmony,’ consisting of a flour barrel, with sheet-iron heads, a tin kettle, 2 stove-pipe drums, a konch shell, a cow-horn bugle, a stage horn, 2 broken violins, dinner and cow bells, a tamborine, rattle-bones, and pot-lid symbols, joined in the martial acclaim.

The plaintiff sweetness of such a concert can be better imagined than described. If the yelling of the Maqaas, which caused the singer of David to exclaim, even at the peril of his life, ‘whence come these hellish sounds,’ were a priming to the ravishing strains of the renowned Callithumpians, we no longer wonder at his strange indiscretion.


The Peoples Press (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jun 5, 1835

Image from:

Title: Pennsylvania German manual: for pronouncing, speaking and writing English
Author: A. R. Horne
Publisher: Nat. Educator print., 1875 (Google Book LINK – Revised Edition, 1895)


Three years earlier, the Bloody 98th, the Bush-kill Regiment:


Title: Local Historical and Biographical Notes: collected by Ethan Allen Weaver, from files of newspapers published in Easton, Pennsylvania
Author: Ethan Allen Weaver
Published: 1906
(Google book LINK – pg 74)

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One Response to “Bull Calithumpian and the Bloody 98th”

  1. Scholla: Bull Bands 3/27/1943 | Keeper of Berks's History Mysteries Says:

    […] Source: https://yesteryearsnews.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/bull-calithumpian-and-the-bloody-98th/ […]

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