July 2, 2022

Fifty-six Fife and Drum Corps on Parade at Deep River’s Ancient Muster, While on the Sidelines Thousands Cheer

Marchers in the muster, all marching in perfect step

On and on they came, the parade of more than fifty, fife and drum corps, playing the old and sacred tunes of our national memory, “the Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “America the Beautiful,” and “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” In keeping with the music were patriotically dressed marchers, wearing the military uniforms of wars gone by, three corner hats, Union blue uniforms of the Civil War, and of the Revolutionary War as well.

A quartet of drummers at the Ancient Muster

In all there was 56 fife and drum corps on parade down Main Street in Deep River on Saturday, July 21. It took the units of the muster over an hour and a half to pass a given point along the parade route.

A close-up of fifers fifing

The annual musters were first started in Deep River back in 1953, which made this the 59th year of these events. Normally, the small town of Deep River has a population of around 5,000. During the muster the town’s population swells by another 5,000, taking into account the marchers and the rows of spectators along the sidelines.

A look at the audience viewing the muster on Main Street, Deep River

In front of Deep River town hall the chairs of muster watchers were four deep. In fact, rows of spectators in chairs and standing stretched from one end of Deep River’s Main Street to another. Adding to the pleasure of the event, the weather was perfect.

Marching fifers, all dressed in white

The Muster Represents U.S. Tradition

The President of the Deep River Annual Muster Committee is Deep River resident Tim Goss. It his committee that organizes the two day muster event.

The Essex Sailing Masters of 1812

The first day of the muster, always on the Friday the day before the march, there is what is called a Tattoo. It is a gathering at which members of the various marching corps can get to know each other. The second day, which always takes place on the third Saturday in July, is the day of the Ancient Muster itself, which features the actual march of the various corps.

In Goss’s mind, “The muster represents the country’s tradition, stretching back to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.”

The first unit in the muster was the group where Muster President Tim Goss plays the bass drum

Goss, himself, participates in the muster. He plays the bass drum in the first, fife and drum corps in the march. Many of the marching units in the Ancient Muster were formed the 1870’s after the Civil War, when this conflict was still fresh in memory.

The Massachusetts colonial navy unit was founded in 1775

In addition to the tunes of the fifes, and the deep thumps of the drums, on occasion some minor explosions went off, making a bit of noise and smoke.

Leading the Deep River Ancient Muster

Leading off this year’s Ancient Muster were Deep River’s First Selectman Dick Smith and town Third Selectman, Dave OIiveria. Of the muster tradition in Deep River, Smith said, “Personally, I love the muster. It is one of the things that Deep River is known for, and we take pride in it.”

Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith (on left) and Third Selectman Dave Oliveria lead off the Ancient Muster

He continued, “When I am out of town, and I tell people that I am from Deep River, a lot of them ask me, isn’t that where they have the muster?  It is one of the things our town in know by. ”

The Moodus fife and drum corps proudly marching in the muster

Many of the fife and drum corps that took part in the muster were from Connecticut. There were also corps from other New England states, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and as well as from New York and other states. Sometimes there are even overseas groups participating as well.

Political Campaigning among the Muster Crowds

There was also a bit of political campaigning among the swelling crowds before the muster began. Former Congressman Christopher Shays, who is running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, against wrestling figure Linda McMahon, was shaking hands amongst the crowd. When asked why he was running, he said, “I want my party back.”

The Continentals of Camden, New York, which was founded in 1850, marched in the muster

Also campaigning were supporters of Melissa Schlag, who is running for the Connecticut State Senate on the Green Party ticket.

On hand as well was U.S. Navy veteran Pasqual Casanova, age 89, who saw action in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa during World War II. He said that he and his wife Rose love the muster and have been attending for many years.

Another unit in perfect step; this skill is only achieved with constant drilling

To give the reader a real sense of Deep River’s annual Ancient Muster, there follows more photos of this year’s event.

There was a woman’s group in the Ancient Muster parade, and why not?


These muster marchers wore the Union blue uniforms of the U.S. Civil War

Windsor, Connecticut, Fife & Drum Corp joined the muster