Child Soldiers of the US Civil War Deserve Their Memorials!
It is estimated that about 20 percent of all Civil War soldiers, were under 18.
Coincidentally, it was this abundance of young, boyish-looking men in the ranks that made it easier for young women to disguise themselves as men and also sign up as soldiers.
These boy soldiers usually served as drummer boys, musicians, messengers, nurses and scouts for the troops. Yet, during the heat of battle, many of these boys put these duties aside and joined the troops in combat.
Both the North and the South had children enlisted in their armies. Children were supposed to be over 16, but some as young as 10 years old. Children helped with the wounded and some were given chores in the rear of the army. Others, especially drummer boys who were in the thick of the battle, were killed and wounded. President Lincoln came to the rescue of children in trouble in the Union army. A drummer boy was about to be executed for desertion when Lincoln interfered and sent him home instead. Some children were very brave. The youngest Medal of Honor winner remains Willie Johnston, 3rd Vermont, Civil War, age 12.
Kids in Battle: 10 American Child Soldiers of the Civil War
The US Civil War was the last conflict in which significant numbers of American children were utilized as soldiers: it is estimated that a fifth of all military personnel in the Civil War were under 18, and that more than 100,000 soldiers in the Union Army alone were 15 years old or less. There were even cases in which children as young as 8 were put in uniform.