Acording to his memoir, A Little Fifer's War Diary, 1862-4, Bardeen was born in Fitchburg on Aug. 28, 1847. He first attempted to enlist at the age of 14 in Lowell but was turned away for being too young. Six months latter he had better luck. His cousin had been sent back to Boston to recruit replacements for the First Regiment. Bardeen was made a drummer boy and assigned to Company D, July 21, 1862. His first stop as a soldier was Camp Cameron in Somerville. "I drew my first uniform, and uncomfortable enough the coarse wool was to my unaccustomed skin. The first nights were almost torture. Still wearing the day's thick woolen shirt, I slept between coarse woolen blankets in a bunk filled so closely with soldiers one could hardly turn over. His attempts to teach himself the drum, on the hill between the camp and Tufts college, were so unsuccessful that he turned to the fife instead. His duties also included buying postage and carrying the mail from the Post Office at Porter's Station. The men in camp liked having their regiment stenciled on their knapsacks. Young Bardeen then went into Boston and purchased green paint and stenciled recruits knapsacks for 25 cents each. Business was so good that he asked his younger brother to come out from Fitchburg to help him. During his time here the name of the camp was changed to Camp Day. On Sept. 1, 1862 he left to join the 1st Reg.