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Marine Band Drum Major Richard T. Johnson
Biography of Marine Band Drum Major Richard T. Johnson

Richard T. Johnson was born on Feb. 29, 1843, in St. Mary’s County, MD. He enlisted as an apprentice musician on April 4, 1855 at age 13, joining the “music boys” at Marine Barracks Washington. He served as a drummer aboard the USS Portsmouth and at Marine Barracks Washington. He was discharged on March 2, 1863, shortly after his twenty-first birthday. Johnson continued to live in Washington, D.C., and worked as a blacksmith and chain welder until he was appointed the sixteenth Drum Major of the Marine Band on Dec. 10, 1875. He reenlisted under the band’s seventeenth director, John Philip Sousa, on Dec. 11, 1880, and retired on May 1, 1882.