7 Little Known Facts You Weren’t Taught in History Class

4. Children Fought in the US Civil War by the Hundreds of Thousand

About 15 percent of all military personnel were children under 18 during the US Civil War, and more than 100,000 soldiers in the Union Army alone were 15 years old or even younger. The Confederates also used child soldiers by the tens of thousands.

Unfortunately, there were even cases in which children as young as 8 were put in uniform. For the most part, child soldiers in the US Army were utilized as drummers, buglers, cooks’ assistants, nurses, orderlies, general gophers, or put to work in other non-combatant positions.

However, during battles, Civil War child soldiers were often just as exposed as the adults to bullets and artillery. Also, in the US Navy, children frequently served as “powder monkeys” in warships. Regardless of age, children were tasked during battle with rushing gunpowder from magazines to canons.

And taking into consideration that they were carrying sacks of gunpowder, liable to go off if it came into contact with any spark or shard of flaming timber or scorching shell fragment, the kids were often at greater risk of death than the rest of the crew.

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