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Little John Clem

John Lincoln Clem (August 13, 1851 – May 13, 1937) was a United States Army general who served as a drummer boy in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He gained fame for his bravery on the battlefield, becoming the youngest noncommissioned officer in Army history. He retired from the Army in 1915, having attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Quartermaster Corps. When advised he should retire, he requested to be allowed to remain on active duty until he became the last veteran of the Civil War still on duty in the Armed Forces. By special act of Congress on August 29, 1916, he was promoted to major general one year after his retirement.

In this picture Clem looks to be six or seven years old. The photograph was created between 1860 and 1865 by Morris Gallery of the Cumberland, Nashville, Tennessee.


Powder Boy James Johnston

“Powder Boy” James V. Johnston, 1864. Young Jimmie Johnston was aboard the U.S. gunboat Forest Rose with his mother when it was attacked by a Confederate force in Feb. 1864. When the gunboat’s regular powder monkey, who carried powder to the gunners, was killed early in the battle, Jimmie took his place until the Confederates were repelled. The crew presented this uniform to the six-and-a-half-year-old boy they called “Admiral Johnston” for his bravery. Missouri History Museum.

From Peer into the past on Tumblr

Little Dave: Our Youngest Confederate Soldier


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The American Civil War is full of outstanding heroes, remarkable tales, and unforgettable legends. Many people may not know, however, that a large number of these forgotten heroes were only teen-agers; some were even pre-teens. “I hadn’t lost any war and wasn’t hunting any, but it rather came to me through circumstances not of my ordering” David Bailey Freeman wrote in 1923 in an address to the Atlanta chapter of the United Confederate Veterans, nearly 60 years after his service in the War Between the States.

David was not much different from the thousands of other young southerners enlisting in 1861 who were full of the “military spirit” except in one regard: he was barely 11 years old! Yet, he did indeed enlist, and he served 3 years in Company D of the 6th Georgia Cavalry, CSA. Known affectionately by members of his company as “Little Dave,” his fellow comrades would later recall that although “he was quite young, [he] made a good soldier

D.B. Freeman was editor of the Cartersville Express/Daily Tribune Newspaper\

The Boys of War-Civil War Drummer Boys

Boys who served as drummers in the civil war, risked their lives alongside men twice their age and, sometimes, size. Some became prisoners of war, while others were killed in battle or died from diseases that ravaged even the strongest men. Those who were lucky enough to survive were often left with a lifetime of haunted memories.

Until well into the 19th century, western armies recruited young boys to act as drummers. The drums were an important part of the battlefield communications system, with various drum rolls used to signal different commands from officers to troops. Although there were usually official age limits, these were often ignored; the youngest boys were sometimes treated as mascots by the adult soldiers.

The life of a drummer boy appeared rather glamorous and as a result, boys would sometimes run away from home to enlist. Other boys may have been the sons or orphans of soldiers serving in the same unit. The image of a small child in the midst of battle was seen as deeply poignant by 19th-century artists, and idealized boy drummers were frequently depicted in paintings, sculpture and poetry. Wikipedia and other info source from Cate Lineberry- writer, editor and multimedia producer in Washington.

Photo: Unable to locate source for photo, identification of boys or date photographed.

From: The Civil War Parlor

Arkansas Civil War buffs remember Confederate boy hero

LITTLE ROCK, Ark | Sat Jan 7, 2012 

(Reuters) - David O. Dodd is known as Arkansas' boy martyr of the Confederacy.

On Saturday, about 100 people gathered in the historic Mount Holly Cemetery to remember Dodd, who was 17 when the Union Army hanged him as a spy. Civil War re-enactors and history buffs have been holding the annual event for decades.

"We honor and respect him as an individual who had principles," said Danny Honnoll of Jonesboro, Ark., a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "How many of us have principles that we are willing to die for?"

Continue reading "Arkansas Civil War buffs remember Confederate boy hero" »

The Boys of War

Johnny Clem, perhaps the most famous drummer boy of the war, shot a Confederate officer who had ordered him to surrender.

Massachusetts Commanders Military Order of the Loyal Legion and the U.S. Army Military History InstituteJohnny Clem, perhaps the most famous drummer boy of the war, shot a Confederate officer who had ordered him to surrender.


Disunion follows the Civil War as it unfolded. 

With hopes of adventure and glory, tens of thousands of boys under the age of 18 answered the call of the Civil War, many of them rushing to join Union and Confederate troops in the earliest days of battle. Both sides had recruitment rules that barred underage men from enlisting, but that didn’t stop those who wanted to be part of the action: some enlisted without their parents’ permission and lied about their ages or bargained with recruiters for a trial period, while others joined along with their older brothers and fathers whose partisan passions overwhelmed their parental senses. Most of the youngest boys became drummers, messengers and orderlies, but thousands of others fought alongside the men.

As each side scrambled to get troops into the field in the early days of the war, many of these boys went to battle with just a few weeks of training. It didn’t take long for them to understand what they’d gotten themselves into. Elisha Stockwell Jr., from Alma, Wis., was 15 when he enlisted. After the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, he wrote, “I want to say, as we lay there and the shells were flying over us, my thoughts went back to my home, and I thought what a foolish boy I was to run away and get into such a mess as I was in. I would have been glad to have seen my father coming after me.”

Continue reading  The Boys of War at the NYTimes