Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Young Soldiers.

Over the years I have been asked just how young could a boy be to enlist in the civil war, well the answer was 18 to 45, and as young as 15 with a parents consent, but there always seems to be a exception to the rules. Some commanding officers would bring their son with them and would give light duties around camp will other young boys would come into camp and some times a company would make them their mascot. It was not uncommon to see boys as young as nine in a camp working. There were boys as young as twelve and thirteen that went into battle and history give them no notice of them, but a few would stand out from the others and make history while others would be forgotten. There was known to be 10,000, boys who would serve, who were under the age of 18.

John Clem, was a sergeant of the Twenty-second Michigan Volunteer Infantry, and is the youngest soldier in the army. He is 12 years old, and small even for his age. His home is Newark, Ohio. He first attracted the notice of General Rosecrans at a review at Nashville, where he was acting as marker of his regiment. The General, attracted by his youth and intelligence, invited him to call upon him whenever they were in the same place. Rosecrans saw no more of Clem until his return to Cincinnati, when one day coming to his rooms at the Burnet House, he found the boy awaiting him. He had seen service in the mean while. He had gone through the battle of Chickamauga, where he had three bullets through his hat. Here he killed a rebel Colonel. The officer, mounted on horseback, encountered the young hero, and called out, "Stop, you little Yankee devil!" By way of answer the boy halted, brought his piece to "order," thus throwing the Colonel off his guard. In another moment the piece was cocked, brought to aim, fired, and the officer fell dead from his horse. For this achievement Clem was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, and Rosecrans bestowed upon him the Roll of Honor. He is now on duty at the head-quarters of the Army of the Cumberland.

In 1862 at the Battle of Pittsburg Landing John’s drum was hit by an artillery shell, and the press soon dubbed him "Johnny Shiloh". He was finally allowed to officially enlist in 1863. Soon afterward, his regiment trimmed a rifle down to his size, and he began to march as a full fledged infantry soldier.

In the fall of 1863, John was captured in Georgia by Rebel soldiers while he was guarding a train. The Rebels took his uniform away, which upset him terribly; in particular he was upset at losing his cap which had three bullet holes in it. He was released a short time later in a prisoner exchange. Clem went on to fight in a number of battles and was wounded twice.

Clem Retired from the U.S. Army as a Major General in 1916 after the outbreak of World War I. He was the last Civil War veteran on active duty in the US military. Clem died in San Antonio on May 13, 1937, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

John W. Packham.

Here is another young soldier by the name of John W. Packham, who at the aged of thirteen, was the regimental marker, and son of Lieutenant Albany Packham, of the 34th Regiment Ohio First Zouaves, one day he was sent to the rear in a ambulances, from Fayetteville to Gauley River; but upon turning the hill, about five hundred yards from the camp, they came upon two thousand rebels in the woods. A number came to the opening, and one called to our little hero (he being the only one with the ambulances in a Zouave uniform) and said, 'You little red - top devil, come over here, or I'll kill you.' He answered, 'No, I can't come!' Again and again they called to him. One finally stepped forward a few paces, raised his rifle to his shoulder, and said, 'You little fool, come over; we won't hurt you; we want to talk to you.' The little hero still refusing, the rebel fired, the ball striking and shattering his right knee. The rebels then opened a murderous fire into our sick in the ambulances, killing and wounding thirty-two who were lying therein. That rebel volley brought down the Zouaves, and the battle of Fayetteville commenced. Your artist was near the breastworks, coolly sketching the combatants at that point. "The little hero is now in the hospital at Gallipolis, doing well under the kind nursing of the ladies, who bring him all the delicacies of the season. John W. Packham, was given the honorable rank of Corporal, for his outstanding bravery in battle.

Note. This link will take you to a photo of him.

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