There's a reason the term ' drummer boy ' became iconic through time ( and wars ). It's a bizarre concept if you think about it- children in armies, boys under fire, enduring hardships with grown men. And dying. NYPL
What is weird is how accepted it seems to have been to send ( sometimes extremely young ) boys to war. Universally praised, boys who lived through it sometimes stayed in the army. Johnny Clem wasn't singular, maybe it's all they knew. It's funny too, how appalled we are by the notion of little kids as drummer boys, to the extent that when we hear of say, a 14 year old it's more ok. It was all appalling.
Drummer boys attracted our interest during the war- acts of heroism by children will do that. Their deaths were mourned, romantic, Victorian legend surrounded them. What we don't see is anyone questioning why on earth they were there.
Major Robert Henry Hendershot was once upon a time a 10 year old boy. His is as astonishing a story as Clem's. Sorry it's long- it's just crazy thinking this is a child's story.
Not Robert, boys in front of the Christian Commission, Richmond. One in uniform. Our kids wore soccer cleats.
This child was very famous- 10 years old and like Clem destined for a career as a soldier.
Drummer boy sketched at Culpepper, Virginia, LoC
Robert Henry Hendershot, book here, his war would have flattened grown me. Under fire at Fredericksburg, sick, captured, prison, worth reading a ten year old's war.
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