Children in the Civil War
On the Homefront, On the Battlefield
by Marcie Schwartz
Children were an active, enthusiastic, and critical part of Civil War society. They comprised a much bigger portion of the US population in 1860 than in the 21st century, with persons under age 19 making up nearly half of the population (compared to less than 25% today). Children played an important role on the home front supporting the war effort, and many soldiers on both sides invoked the future of their children as to why the war should be fought and won at any cost. A number of children took up arms with their elders and served as enlisted soldiers or regimental musicians. While we don't know how many children enlisted during the Civil War, we do know that around 48 soldiers who were under the age of 18 won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery and service.
Click on the links below to learn more about the bravery of the Civil War’s youngest participants.
Learn about the lives of children and how they supported the war at home.
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Drummer boys, buglers, and 'powder monkeys' were critical members of the units they served.
Select biographies of some of the war's youngest participants.
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