The Home Front: 1861 to 1865

Children in Wartime

How were children affected by the Civil War?

When they first learned of the war, many young boys wanted to go and serve. Of course, they knew little or nothing of what might happen to them; they simply yearned for adventure. But even when the casualty lists began to come in, and the newspapers printed long pages full of the dead and wounded, adolescent boys remained vulnerable to the shoddy recruiter and their own overactive imaginations. Nothing seemed so fine as being a soldier.

If they succeeded in concealing their age and being accepted into the lists, young boys often became the drummers for their units. A fair amount of touching poetry on the subject of drummer boys was written during the war, often with tragic endings. Many of these boys came from broken homes, or homes that had practically disappeared because of domestic quarrels (scenes like these existed long before the war began).


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