1 May:
America’s Celebrity Child Soldier

Eleven year-old Johnny Clem formally became part of the Union Army on 1st May, 1863 – though he had already been participating as a Drummer Boy for the 22nd Michigan Infantry in the American Civil War for two years.

Clem’s youthful determination and bravery propelled him into the spotlight of national fame – but he was far from the only child soldier in this tumultuous American era.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly peruse Clem’s memoir, ‘From Nursery To Battlefield’; reveal how President Ulysses S. Grant personally intervened to assist Clem’s further career; and consider how Clem’s image was used for powerful propagandistic purposes… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The Boys of War’ (The New York Times, 2011): https://archive.nytimes.com/opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/the-boys-of-war/?searchResultPosition=3

• ‘Why the Union Army Had So Many Boy Soldiers’ (Smithsonian Magazine, 2023): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/why-the-union-army-had-so-many-boy-soldiers-180981458/

• ‘Early Accounts of Drummer Boy Johnny Clem’ (Life on the Civil War Research Trail, 2023):