Great-Great Grandfather Looks Too Young to Be a Union Soldier

@Corbin5 (119667)
United States
March 21, 2017 3:01pm CST
A search online allowed me to view a photo, for the first time, of my great-great grandfather. I stared at the photo, and my first thought was, "No way does he look 18 years old!" One had to be at least 18 to enlist in the Union army during the Civil War. However, many boys lied about their ages, and quite a few Union soldiers were under the age of 18. It was mind-boggling to learn that at least 100,000 Union soldiers were under the age of 15. Experiencing the horrors of war at such a young age had to be traumatic.
42 people like this
42 responses
@louievill (19985)
• Philippines
21 Mar 17
You have a great and noble family lineage, no wonder your father got his genes from him, always there to defend what we all enjoy now, our freedom! My salute Yeah he looks young but there were no laws yet about boy soldiers as we do now and agreed upon by nations.
6 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
21 Mar 17
The age to join was 18 or older, but even if a boy lied about his age, he probably was able to join, especially is many Union lives were lost and the army was shorthanded.
2 people like this
@Mike197602 (13937)
• United Kingdom
21 Mar 17
you're actually a bit wrong there. Even back then the minimum age to join was 18. " During the war you had to be at least 18 years old to join the military. Men 18-20 years old needed parental permission while those over 45 were considered too old to serve."
Back Demonstration System-Research Section Forward Next Demo Screen Previous Demo Screen Database Status How to Subscribe About the Database During the war you had to be at least 18 years old to join the military. Men 18-20 years old needed parental permis
4 people like this
@Mike197602 (13937)
• United Kingdom
21 Mar 17
@Corbin5 hey there's nothing wrong with what you wrote. What you said was absolutely true. My point was to @louievill and him saying about age rules. There were age rules then too but as in other wars they were ignored. Everything you say I agree with!!...we crossed comments...my response was to you my comment to him!!
3 people like this
@Asylum (48223)
• Manchester, England
21 Mar 17
The US Civil War is notorious for having had a vast number of very young participants. This was often the result of people living on remote farms and yearning for adventure, plus the poverty around at the time.
6 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
21 Mar 17
Yes, and I believe I read that the Confederate army had no age requirement for enlisting. A lot of the youngest ones were bugle boys or drummer boys, but they too witness the horror, I would think.
4 people like this
@Asylum (48223)
• Manchester, England
21 Mar 17
@Corbin5 That is no doubt due to the much smaller population.
2 people like this
@Mike197602 (13937)
• United Kingdom
21 Mar 17
@Corbin5 there are issues there. Conscription is one and the incomplete confederate records are another. It'd take some degree of research to compare the 2 armies enlistment terms. 18 does seem the benchmark though but even then there are significant issues...some slaves were enlisted and they didn't know their age.
4 people like this
@amadeo (76008)
• United States
21 Mar 17
they were young at that time.No age is required.You just go and fight.
6 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
21 Mar 17
I am sure they all saw awful things. I am surprised that my great-great grandfather lived to age 82.
2 people like this
@amadeo (76008)
• United States
22 Mar 17
@Corbin5 yes,he did great thee.Something was working for him
3 people like this
@Mike197602 (13937)
• United Kingdom
21 Mar 17
I've read a lot about 15 year olds in ww1 Pretty bad but there was pressure on everyone to get involved and probably it was the same then too. From records do you know his actual age?
4 people like this
@Mike197602 (13937)
• United Kingdom
21 Mar 17
@Corbin5 just want to clear up any misunderstanding. I agree totally with your points. The age thing was purely a comment to another response...not a negative point about your discussion!!
1 person likes this
@Mike197602 (13937)
• United Kingdom
21 Mar 17
@Corbin5 it would be interesting to know his age on enlistment!! maybe in time you can find that out?
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
21 Mar 17
@Mike197602 Yes, maybe he was a drummer boy. Will continue the search. I do know his brother, for which there is a photo, was in the same regiment and he was a Lieutenant.
1 person likes this
@thelme55 (15169)
• Germany
22 Mar 17
He looked too young to be 18. It is amazing how you know about your great great grandfather.
4 people like this
@sol_cee (18181)
• Japan
21 Mar 17
Was that a ribbon around his neck?
4 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
21 Mar 17
@topffer informed me that he is wearing a cavalry scarf. He was in the 3rd Illinois cavalry so that makes sense.
2 people like this
@Gillygirl (17606)
• Sutton, England
21 Mar 17
That is a piece of history and a great photo. I read that a lot of men lied about their ages to enlist in the civil war. The same applied to soldiers in WW1.
3 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
21 Mar 17
Yes, it is a shame that those so young had to endure the horrors of war too. Such awful sights they witnessed.
2 people like this
@Gillygirl (17606)
• Sutton, England
21 Mar 17
@Corbin5 I expect the trauma was great. Do you know what became of your great-great grandfather?
1 person likes this
@Gillygirl (17606)
• Sutton, England
25 Mar 17
@Corbin5 That is interesting to know he survived the civil war.
1 person likes this
@KrauseHome (35514)
• United States
22 Mar 17
But back then this I think was the only thing men and boys had to look forward too all their life. It was encouraged and demanded of them so they were glad to go. Yes many did lie about their age to get the priveledge to go and so unless you seen proof he does look under 18 here, and just might have been.
3 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
I have looked at military records and he is listed, but his age when he joined the military is not given.
1 person likes this
@RubyHawk (30557)
• Atlanta, Georgia
23 Mar 17
@Corbin5 My grandfather a few time removed served in the Civil War and I've heard many stories about him. He was wounded and had no way to get heme when he released but someone with a wagon picked him up and brought him home. He lived in Chatsworth Ga.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
23 Mar 17
@RubyHawk You know, like your grandfather, I bet many were left with no way to get back to their homes. So glad your grandfather met someone with a wagon.
• United States
21 Mar 17
Yes, he looks like he is probably 15 or 16 in that photo. I think a lot of boys wanted to go to war because they wanted to protect their beliefs and lands. Though I am sure many also went so that they could provide for their families back home. I am sure it was traumatic for them but there is no telling what they might have experienced already at home, without the threats of war. It was a different time, and I imagine something at home (situation and poverty maybe?) fueled these young men to go to war. Young women even too I bet. (though they would have to disguise their identities).
3 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
I think you are right about the women joining up to help with the fight too.
@RubyHawk (30557)
• Atlanta, Georgia
22 Mar 17
Many women disguised themselves as men and fought. Other women followed the camps to do laundry, cooking and so on.
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
23 Mar 17
@RubyHawk Yes, my maiden name is Corbin, and Margaret Cochran Corbin (November 12, 1751 – January 16, 1800) was a woman who fought in the American Revolutionary War. My grandmother was a member of the DAR, but my mother would not allow me to join due to the DAR not allowing Marion Anderson, an African American, to perform in DAR Constitution Hall. My mom was very active in the civil rights movement.
@topffer (36386)
• Djibouti, Djibouti
21 Mar 17
Great photo, and what is more interesting is that he was your ancestor ! He was indeed very young. He wears what seems to be a cavalry scarf which gives him an interesting look. I do not think that there were regulations for scarves in the union infantry, I have seen any sort of scarves with different colors.
3 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
21 Mar 17
Thank you for alerting me to the cavalry scarf!! He was in the 3rd Illinois cavalry. He lived to age 82. He may be older than I had originally thought.
2 people like this
• Japan
22 Mar 17
I have seen 18-year-olds that look like him, but I am sure many younger boys did sign up.
3 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
I am sure. Yes, there are some very young looking 18 years old. During the Civil War in the USA, 100,000 soldiers for the Union army were under the age of 15.
@TRBRocks420 (84551)
• Banks, Oregon
21 Mar 17
Great photo and, yes very sad, they even had kids out there just playing drums called them the little drummer boys.
3 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
21 Mar 17
Yes, someone asked about the scarf ties into a bow around his neck. I wonder if he was a bugle or drummer boy.
2 people like this
• United States
21 Mar 17
A great photo there Deborah! I agree he does not look 18. It is wonderful that you were able to view this. Wow I had no idea that Union soldiers were so very young!
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
21 Mar 17
I know, he looks so young, and I keep thinking of all the horrific sights those so young witnessed.
1 person likes this
• United States
21 Mar 17
@Corbin5 Were you able to find out his birthdate and deathdate?
1 person likes this
• United States
23 Mar 17
@Corbin5 Wow that is unusual..strong genes, thanks for saying Deborah.
1 person likes this
@Tampa_girl7 (26767)
• United States
22 Mar 17
He does look young. What wonderful treasures we find online.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
It really was a surprise to find that photo. I also found his brother's Union army photo too.
1 person likes this
@Tampa_girl7 (26767)
• United States
22 Mar 17
@Corbin5 that's really cool. I once found a photo of my great great grandparents online.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
@Tampa_girl7 That is wonderful. So glad you found that photo!! Sure is a surprise when we do find those old ones.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (182764)
• Switzerland
22 Mar 17
Imagine those who are having this experience in our days, kids as young as 13 year old that are kidnapped and must fight for the ISIS.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
Yes, I saw a documentary on the youngest ISIS fighters. Pitiful.
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (182764)
• Switzerland
22 Mar 17
@Corbin5 Poor kids, taken from their families that are killed and obliged to fight. They do not even fight for an ideal.
1 person likes this
@andriaperry (61334)
• Anniston, Alabama
22 Mar 17
Even for an 18 year old the army would be awful.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
I think so too. So much horror to witness.
1 person likes this
@tzwrites (4956)
• Romania
22 Mar 17
It must have been traumatizing to be a part of the Civil War. But I'm guessing males were expected to enroll.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
Yes, I am sure all males, even the very young, were encourage to fight in this conflict.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (137301)
• Bunbury, Australia
22 Mar 17
Some of these young 'men' must have had very tough lives.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
I am sure they saw horrific things on the battlefield.
2 people like this
@RubyHawk (30557)
• Atlanta, Georgia
21 Mar 17
Lots of young boys enlisted in the civil war.It was terrible.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
I did read that the Confederate army had no age limit in place.
1 person likes this
@crossbones27 (21982)
• Redlands, California
21 Mar 17
Great historic photo there. Thanks for sharing and is indeed sad the turbulence adults create on their youth without really knowing they are doing it in that time and now. Most cannot help it but sure there is people in power who could if they were not so hell bent to their own ego.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (119667)
• United States
22 Mar 17
The photo is definitely a keeper. So true that the young often have to pay a big price due to the actions of adults.
1 person likes this