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The Children's Civil War

By James Marten

368 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4904-0
    Published: October 2000
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-9860-4
    Published: November 2000

Civil War America

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Awards & distinctions

1999 Alpha Sigma Nu National Book Award in History, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

A 1999 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Children--white and black, northern and southern--endured a vast and varied range of experiences during the Civil War. Children celebrated victories and mourned defeats, tightened their belts and widened their responsibilities, took part in patriotic displays and suffered shortages and hardships, fled their homes to escape enemy invaders and snatched opportunities to run toward the promise of freedom.

Offering a fascinating look at how children were affected by our nation's greatest crisis, James Marten examines their toys and games, their literature and schoolbooks, the letters they exchanged with absent fathers and brothers, and the hardships they endured. He also explores children's politicization, their contributions to their homelands' war efforts, and the lessons they took away from the war. Drawing on the childhoods of such diverse Americans as Jane Addams, Booker T. Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt, and on sources that range from diaries and memoirs to children's "amateur newspapers," Marten examines the myriad ways in which the Civil War shaped the lives of a generation of American children.

"An original-minded, skillfully and suggestively presented history, haunting in its detailed unfolding of a war that put so many already vulnerable youngsters in danger, but elicited from some of them, as well, impressively sensitive, responsive thoughts, gestures, and deeds in what became, as this extraordinary book's title insists, their civil war."--Journal of American History

"James Marten's thoroughly researched and engagingly written study . . . stands as one of the most exciting studies to emerge in the last dozen years. . . . Marten has taken a topic ignored by both Civil War historians and historians of childhood and crafted an engaging, masterful, nuanced, and readable study that will not quickly leave the reader's mind or heart."--American Studies

"The first comprehensive account of Civil War children. . . . Thoroughly researched and nicely illustrated, The Children's Civil War will be a touchstone for historians and generalists who seek to gain a fuller understanding of life on the home front between 1861 and 1865."--Civil War History

The Children's Civil War is a poignant and fascinating look at childhood during our nation's greatest crisis. Using sources that include diaries, memoirs, and letters, James Marten examines the wartime experiences of young people--boys and girls, black and white, northern and southern--and traces the ways in which the Civil War shaped the lives of a generation of American children. -->

About the Author

James Marten is professor of history at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He is director of the Children in Urban America Project: A Digital Archive.
For more information about James Marten, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"This study is long overdue, and Marten’s methodical examination of a wide variety of primary and secondary sources on this and more modern wars makes The Children’s Civil War a valuable addition to the historiography of the period. Its rich notes and bibliography also make it a great starting point for more detailed studies of individual children."--Journal of Southern History

"An important book, well researched and written, which directs our attention to some previously overlooked casualties and consequences of the Civil War."--American Historical Review

"An original-minded, skillfully and suggestively presented history, haunting in its detailed unfolding of a war that put so many already vulnerable youngsters in danger, but elicited from some of them, as well, impressively sensitive, responsive thoughts, gestures, and deeds in what became, as this extraordinary book’s title insists, their civil war."--Journal of American History

"The first comprehensive account of Civil War children. . . . Thoroughly researched and nicely illustrated, The Children’s Civil War will be a touchstone for historians and generalists who seek to gain a fuller understanding of life on the home front between 1861 and 1865."--Civil War History

"James Marten's thoroughly researched and engagingly written study . . . stands as one of the most exciting studies to emerge in the last dozen years. . . . Marten has taken a topic ignored by both Civil War historians and historians of childhood and crafted an engaging, masterful, nuanced, and readable study that will not quickly leave the reader's mind or heart."--American Studies

"A book with a fresh perspective on this well-recorded historical event that even readers unexcited by a military or political discussion could enjoy."Virginia Libraries