Visiting Frederick, Maryland's Mount Olivet Cemetery is always a moving experience. In fact, that will be the subject of an upcoming post. For now, let's just walk towards the crowded crest in the center of the grounds. We'll pass a row of tombstones to our right that seems to extend for miles. These are Confederate soldiers killed mostly in the nearby battles of South Mountain, Antietam, and Monocacy. Turning south, we view the Monument to the Unknown Southern Dead. It would be easy to end our visit here; however, we'll follow the circle walkway until we find this "Living Memory" lying low to the ground.
So far, this is the only memorial I've seen that chooses to honor the children who "served and died in the Civil War."
Here is a close-up of the artwork. This nonpartisan lament depicts a drummer boy with Union and Confederate flags spread as angels' wings.
Loving hands recently visited as evidenced by the offerings placed before the memorial.
Brian Downey's highly regarded site, Antietam on the Web, provides the example of Johnny Cook (1847-1915), a former paper boy from Cincinnati, Ohio. This fifteen year old bugler of Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery earned a Medal of Honor for his brave actions at Antietam. His medal citation explains that after many of his comrades were killed or wounded along the Hagerstown Pike Cook "volunteered to act as a cannoneer, and as such volunteer served a gun under a tense fire of the enemy." Here is the site of this action.
As the memorial attests, not all child volunteers survived the war. In fact, while viewing this tribute I thought of the fact that many of the soldiers on both sides were children themselves. Those on the homefront suffered tremendously, too. For an intriguing study of the effect of the Civil War on our nation's youth, read James Marten's The Children's Civil War. In addition to a thorough study, Marten includes an excellently detailed bibliography that provides an ideal starting point for further research. Next time I visit the children's memorial at Mount Olivet, I'll try to remember Marten's words: "There may be no statues . . . [to] children among the tens of thousands staring out over old battlefields, no tarnished medals on frayed ribbons lying in velvet-lined museum displays. But Civil War children will be remembered; their stories are their monuments" (Marten, 5).