16 Shocking Photos Of The Children Who Fought In The Civil War

The Civil War has gone down in history as the deadliest conflict in American history. Between 1861 and 1865, more than 600,000 soldiers were killed — that’s more than American military deaths in World War I and World War II combined. Although the majority of the 3 million soldiers were grown men, it is estimated that as many as 20% were under 18 years of age.

The youngest of the child soldiers — some not even 10 years old — served as drummer boys and messengers. These positions still put them in danger as evidenced by the case of William Black. As a 12-year-old drummer, Black’s left hand and arm were shattered by an exploding shell. Black is supposedly the youngest wounded soldier of the war.

Another famous child soldier was John Clem. A drummer boy for the 22nd Michigan at the Battle of Chickamauga, Clem is said to have shot a Confederate colonel who had demanded his surrender. Afterwards he was promoted to sergeant, the youngest soldier ever to be a noncommissioned officer in the United States Army. Clem retired from the US Army a brigadier general in the Quartermaster Corps in 1915, the last veteran of the Civil War to do so.

Take an eye-opening look at Black, Clem and other child soldiers of the Civil War in the photos below and learn more about the children on the battlefield from The Civil War Trust.

Sergeant John Lincoln Clem, The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga

Johnny Clem dressed in uniform
Civil War Union Signed Carte de Visite of Drummer Boy Johnny Clem
William Black, 12, the youngest soldier known to be wounded during the American Civil War.
Union drummer boy Johnny Jacobs
Drummer boy Jimmy Doyle, who was wounded at Chickamauga, Tennessee, in September 1863.
Three drummer boys (now at Ft. Hamilton) who have been in 9 battles of the rebellion
Young Confederate soldier, possibly a drummer boy
Powder monkey by gun of U.S.S. New Hampshire off Charleston, S.C.
Unidentified young African American soldier in Union uniform
Unidentified young drummer boy in Union uniform
Unidentified young drummer boy in Union uniform
Unidentified young African American soldier in Union uniform
Unidentified young drummer boy in military uniform playing drum
Photograph shows a group portrait of seamen gathered around a mounted gun. The young boy seated on the gun is possibly the powder monkey.
Unidentified young soldier in Union infantry uniform with Hardee hat and musket

More in America

21 Powerful Photos Of The D-Day Invasion

More than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline on June 6, 1944. The largest amphibious operation in history, “D-Day” saw more than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft, descend upon Nazi-occupied France. By the end of the day, the Allies had gained a foot-hold in…

D-Day By The Numbers [Infographic]

On Tuesday, June 6, 1944, Allied forces invaded Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Forever known as D-Day, the operation was the largest seaborne invasion in history. But just how big was it? In total, 156,000 Allied troops, 5,000 ships and landing craft, 50,000 vehicles, 11,000 aircraft and…

25 Photos Honoring The USS Independence

The USS Independence (CV/CVA-62) was the fourth and final member of the Forrestal class of conventionally powered supercarriers when she was commissioned in 1959. President Kennedy called on her to serve as a reminder of US resolve as part of the Naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis…