This is a complex and often overlooked area.  Many people assume that their role was largely ceremonial and took the form of Drummer Boy. This is simply not true. Every child was involved in the war, directly or indirectly. The  Essential Civil War Curriculum 

has this to say at the beginning of its section on the subject:

The Civil War affected every aspect of the lives of American children, lending excitement to the lives of Northern children, imposing hardships and limitations on Southern white children, and changing the lives of African-American children forever.

Two entries in the diaries of a little boy in Massachusetts and a little girl in Georgia from the same week in the fall of 1864 display the extremes of children’s experiences. While Gerald Norcross complained about the boring and ineffective “battle” between model ironclads he witnessed one night on Boston Commons—perhaps the most distressing experience he recorded in a diary he kept virtually every day of the war—at almost the same moment Carrie Berry recorded her description of the burning of Atlanta, as Confederate forces evacuated the city and federal troops marched in. Carrie had spent weeks writing short, terse entries about the bombardment of the city, the closing of her school and church, the constant search for food and safety. By contrast, Gerald wrote in great detail about the various interesting, even fun ways the war intersected with his life: playing war games, reading novels and magazines, collecting toys and other mementos.

I had a short discussion with Joel Moore on the subject, you can listen to it here.

Most people are more interested in the children that participated in the war, The little drummer boys seem an almost romantic subject, but it was far from that. Musket and Cannon Balls show no preference in who they maim or kill.

There is a great movie on the subject, and we were lucky enough to talk to the director of American Drummer Boy, Dorian Walker, you can listen here

Both Dorian Walker’s movie and author Joel Moore’s books are works of fiction, both rely on a large amount of fact.

The subject of the children in the Civil War has cropped up in almost every episode. Some were looking for adventure, some were looking for escape, none were prepared for what they found. You can listen to my discussion with Joel Moore Here

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