It is likely that Charles S. Ashworth was born in or near Manchester, England about the year 1777. For it is known that he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of 25 in 1802 in the city of Boston, MA. At this writing, we are unsure when he arrived in the U.S. or of his parents’ names, nor any other relatives, except a younger sister named Mary Ann. It is also unknown at the moment whether Mary Ann was born in the US, or in Manchester.
Be that as it may, Charles Ashworth must have received some form of musical education prior to enlisting in the Marine Corps. For in a short two years, in 1804, he is promoted to Drum Major and Band Leader of the Marine Corps, a rather rapid rise through the ranks, and the second man to hold that position since the
founding of the Marine Corps. Apparently sensing a need for some sort of standardization of beats and signals among the musicians of both the US Army and Navy, Ashworth wrote A New, Useful, and Complete System of Drum Beating which was published in January of 1812. It became something of an early standard. For fifty years later, William Bruce and Daniel Emmett gave a nod to Ashworth in their Drummer’s and Fifer’s Guide lamenting that the Ashworth book had been out of print for many years.
Drum Major Ashworth remained at his post in the Marine Corps throughout the War of 1812 and in 1816 resigned. On January 1, 1815 he married Lois McKim, a young woman nearly twenty years his junior. She survived Charles, dying in Bristol TN in 1874. Not much else is known of Charles Ashworth after his marriage to Lois McKim. We know that the couple lived in Baltimore MD as late as 1817. But when he died and where he is buried, is unknown at this time. Hopefully in time to come, more will come to light on this important man of American roots music, and the art of rudimental style drumming
1. The Reveille "...begins with The Three Camps, omitting The Three Rolls between the first, second third, and fourth parts. Between thefourth and fifth parts eight rolls; that is two long ones like those between the first parts, and six short rolls. Let the last stroke of The Scotch Repeat be the first of the Three Camps. The three parts of the Three Camps is considered but one part of the Reveille. Therefore the first roll is not [beat] till the Three Camps are beat through." [p. 12]
"The Reveille is beat at daybreak and is the signal for the soldiers to rise and the sentries to leave off challenging." [Smythe, p.175]
The Scotch Repeat
The End of Reveille
2. The Troop "...begins with the Three Rolls by drums and fifes. The Rising of the Troop is then beat by the leading drum without the fifes. The whole of the drums and fifes then strike in and go through with The Singlings twice or more times, when the signal, (a poing stroke) is given from the right to commence The Doublings, which are repeated once or twice through the tune, when a similar signal to the last is given to repeat The Singlings until you roll off. Three Rolls and the first part of The Doublings ends The Troop. The Troop is beat at eight or nine o'clock in the morning at hoisting the colors." [Ashworth p.6]
Drummer's Call (First Call)
The Adjutant's Call (Second Call)
The Rising of the Troop
The Singlings of the Troop, or Assembly/My Dog and Gun
The Doublings of the Troop/Charming Molly
The Singlings of the Troop/When War's Alarm
The Duke of York's Short Troop for Two Drums
3. Pioneer's March
4. The Roast Beef (Dinner Call)
5. Retreat (Polly Oliver) "The Retreat begins with Three Rolls and ends with Three Rolls and the first part once through." [Ashworth p. 7] According to Col. Alexander Smythe "Retreat is beat at sunset, for calling the roll, and for warining the men for duty, and reading the orders of the day."
There were many popular tunes of the day that fifers could play. Ashworth gave "The Pretty Maid" "Polly Oliver"
and "The Lass of Ochram" to be played by the fifer with this beating. Other possibilities are "Lovely Nancy", or "Peggy Band."
5. The Tattoo "...from the twenty-second of March to the twenty-second of September is beat at nine o'clock; from the twenty-second of September to the twenty-second of March at eight o'clock, provided the Commander in Chief has not appointed other hours for the performance of that Duty. Begin with the Three Rolls. The Singlings of the Tattoo are then beat by all the drums. Some favorite air is then played by the drums and fifes. At the end of each part of the tune, the drums beat the Singlings. When through the tune, the signal is given from the right to begin the Doublings, which are beat but once through, after which the Singlings as at first, and so on alternatively 'till the signal is given for rolling off. End with Three Rolls and the Doublings once through." [Ashworth, pp 7-8].
The Tattoo was the beating performed to signal the men to remain in quarters until Reveille was beat the next morning. This could, in warm weather turn into quite a fife and drum concert, if the whole regimental fife and drum corps ever played together. These are some of my favorite tunes.
Quickstep March/Chain Cotillion
Common Time March/The Cheat
Single Drag/Yahkee Doodle
7, Slow March
8. Church Call
9. Rogue's March
10. The General "...is the signal for striking the tents and for a march. [It] begins with three rolls and ends with three rolls, and the General once through." [p. 10]
11. The Grenadier's March "The first part of the Grenadiers March on the roll is used when Guards present arms to each other; that on the drag when a regiment presents arms to a General. If more drums than one, part must roll while the others beat on the drag." [p. 20]
12. To Arms
13. Wood Call
14. Water Call
15. Front to Halt
16. First Sergeants' Call
17. All Non-Commissioned Officers' Call
18. Call for Captains, or Officers Commanding Companies or Divisions
19. All Officers' Call, Field Officers Excepted
20. Field Officers' Call
21. The Preparative
22. The Long March/The Girl I Left Behind Me.