Children During the Civil War

By Lina Rebeiz


When the Civil War began in 1861, everyone was affected, and some children's lives and lifestyles were changed forever. The lives of Northern, Southern, and African-American children differed greatly from each other during the Civil War. While the Civil War did not change Northern children's lifestyles, and was a source of adventure and excitement, Southern children were more affected directly by the war. However, most children who lived during the Civil War, whether they were slaves, Northerners, or Southerners, they would watch their local regiments march through their villages and towns. Many newspapers and magazines encouraged children to watch the soldiers march through their towns because it promoted supporting their local regiments. Because the war was so exiting for the kids, they also wanted to help out any way they could, whether it was by raisin
Drummer boys in the Civil War
g money for the soldiers, or even enlisting in the army, using fake ages or names.

Northern Children:

In the North, children viewed the Civil War as less of a source of danger or loss, like in the South, but more of excitement and curiosity. Students would continue to attend school, where they could learn about what was going on in the war as it was happening. Kids had access to a lot of literature about the war, and Northern magazines and newspapers published articles, stories, and even games relating to the war.
Gerald Norcross, who was seven when the war started, wrote about his experiences during the Civil War as a child living in the North. He lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and the war did not disrupt his lifestyle at all. He would love to watch army regiments march through the Boston Common, and he was still able to attended school every day. At school, he and his classmates sang war songs and read the news about the war in newspapers. Although the war was a big part of Gerald’s life, it did not affect him negatively.

Southern Children:

In contrast to the North, Southern children had a very different experience during the Civil War. Schools and churches were often disrupted because of the fighting, and many families needed to stay in shelters and hide to protect themselves. Schools often had to be closed because of financial reasons and because there were very rarely enough teachers. Many newspapers had to stop publication, the roads and railro
Johnny Clem, 10 year old child who claims to have fought in the Battle of Shiloh (click image for link)
ads wore out, and food and water was very often scarce. Many Southern children were forced to find work so that they could help their families survive during the war. One girl, Carrie Berry, wrote about her experiences during the war in the South, and how many times she would have to look through destroyed buildings after a battle to find anything useful.

African-American Children:

The Civil War also had an effect on African-American enslaved children. They had to go without sufficient food and clothing. However, because of the absence of white landowners who went to fight in the war, there was much less discipline on the plantations. A lot of slaves, both adults and children, had to be relocated to separate parts of the Confederacy such as Texas. Many kids also escaped with their parents to the North, and would be protected by the Union troops. Among the slave children who had escaped, a few would have the opportunity to g
Illustration of a drummer boy leading an army
o to school and could live without having to worry about being sold and separated from their families. However, most slaves who had escaped had to stay in "Contraband Camps", where the conditions were awful, and the death rate often rose to thirty percent.

Children's Participation in the War:

The Civil War was an exiting adventure in most of the children's eyes during this time period, so kids wanted to help out any way they could. Many kids picked lint, which could be used to bandage some battle wounds. Teenagers could also work in government offices and ammunition factories. They all supported their local regiments and helped out in hospitals, and younger kids could help out by raising money, and collecting food and supplies for the soldiers.
Children who acted as musicians in the Civil War
Many children also volunteered to help out more directly. The law allowed anyone from ages 18-45 to enlist, however many children under 18 would be able to enlist by using fake ages or names because most officers never bothered to verify their ages because they needed all the help they could get in the war. Many children enlisted and became drummer boys, bugle players, or other musicians for the army. For example, Edward Black became a musician for the 21st Indiana Regiment when he was only nine years old. Musicians learned many calls that allowed communication between officers on the field. The musicians had a very important role; they would call to wake up the soldiers, for mealtimes, when they had to go into battle, when they needed to go to sleep, and many other times (here is a link to the musician's schedule for the army. ). Because young children volunteered, the musicians were generally the youngest ones in the army.

More Fun, Interesting Facts at This Website !!!!


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