Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
From a fairly well known photo " Tasting the soup ", in public access on LoC, this kid isn't the main subject - it's adults tasting soup. He's scraping something from a tin pot, an unreadable expression on his face. And wearing a uniform. Must be around 10 or 11.
From the photo of Christian Commission Headquarters, Richmond, this terribly sad little face peers from beneath a kepi, shoes several sizes too big although that uniform has been made for a child. That boy isn't more than 10. Maybe I don't know that for a fact because we don't know whose mother's son this is. I do know boys.
So these photos have always haunted me. There's a lot of discussion about boy soldiers, those too young to shave for Heaven's sake and went anyway. Two of my great great grandfathers left for war age 15. Two! It must have been awfully common. There were teenagers- and then there were children. I mean little kids. Just because most were drummers doesn't make it normal or ok. Intent of thread is sheer documentation, proof these mostly nameless children were there, not to argue the point or pick holes. I just want to take them home.
Edward Black was eight- eight, when joining late July,1861. 21st Indiana. Four years later his arm and hand were shattered by a ball. He wasn't around for long post war. Edward died in 1872. We have a dreadful track record when it comes to our children. For all the wonderful photos of kids with dolls and toys and families there were several in factories. The child labor laws weren't passed until after my mother was born.
Legend has it Edward was the youngest ' soldier ' wounded in the war. Not so sure. I've read just nurse's acounts speaking of tiny soldiers in their hospitals. It's not a barbaric competition, it's horrifying evidence we don't take terrific care of children.
You don't hear much in newspaper of the era. Some, when a child died. Drummers were in harm's way. Some weird refusal to look at who was out there seems to have prevailed- but there were these snippets.
The whole thing gives you chills anyway.
So these photos have always haunted me. There's a lot of discussion about boy soldiers, those too young to shave for Heaven's sake and went anyway. Two of my great great grandfathers left for war age 15. Two! It must have been awfully common. There were teenagers- and then there were children. I mean little kids.
Unclear is their role. Drummers? Sure although why that made it just fine is anyone's guess. And why anyone would feel it OK that children whose worst worry should be homework face not just camp life but battles. I'm not speaking of kids dressed up as soldiers- these small boys were there.
That's a uniform, photo studio is New York. That kid might be 12 on a tall day.
He's identified, I know and was indeed there. Surname Wood? Taken before or after he'd seen things no adult should see much less a child, no idea. My kids were leaving dirty soccer gear in the living room and putting empty milk cartons back in the fridge. Please no one tell me all about how ' it was different in those days '. Not so sure. Different how? Kids with no protection are a little timeless.
14 or 15 is almost ancient compared to some of these kids and someone still found it shocking.
I ' think ' in the uniform of the Washington Rifles? Please no one get sidetracked over ' no it's not '. It's a uniform and not dress-up. Kid had to jump down from a chair to march off to war.
Photo is almost worse seen whole. He's just there, alone, posed with that bucket. There's a woman seeming to be posed with laundry too. ife? Laundress, both? Makes you hope after this was shot she grabbed him and ran far away.
" New Haven " ID. This is all wrong. A whole lot of Nope.