All posts by awhyte1

Effects on Children: Iraq and Afghanistan

The beginning of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq can generally be traced back to one tragic event: the infamous 9/11.  Although I myself was a young, seven year old child during this experience, I can clearly remember the exact moment, place, and commotion around me when I learned of the fatal terrorist attack, as can several other children of this time period. For children directly involved in this tragedy, such as living in a nearby area or losing close family members due to the attacks, studies have shown that the young children exposed are the most vulnerable of the entire population (Nauert). These local young children that had mothers highly affected by the attacks, such as developing PTSD and depression, were more likely to have clinically significant aggression, anxiety, depression, and issues with sleep (Nauert).  Also, losing a parent or loved one due to the terrorist attacks on this infamous day was completely devastating; news stories about this tragic, unexpected event plagued newspapers and television screens, enabling these young children to become overwhelmed and unable to properly grieve .  However, children across the nation still felt the brutal sting of 9/11, whether or not they had family involved or even completely understood such a harsh concept. Children, such as myself, knew that something dreadful and frightening had happened, yet they were unable to truly understand why. Robin Goodman, a New York City Psychologist, promotes discussion with the young people she counsels about their strong memories and fears of 9/11, claiming that this day will always be a defining moment within their young lives (Kalb).

After this national tragedy, wars began brewing right before these children’s eyes.  However, the general population of children found themselves living their daily lives similar to their previous pre-war days.  These children watched as honorable men and women in camouflaged gear left their communities and neighborhoods to go to a far away land known as “the Middle East”. Because the war was being fought virtually across the globe, children were personally unexposed to cruel and brutal battles. Along with this safety by location, the United States Government and media worked to further shield the typical American’s eyes by censoring news stories, photographs, and general information about the war (Arnow). Because these children did not have close family members writing letters home to them, they only could receive the white-washed information the government was providing them about these far away conflicts.

However, children of military families found themselves much more affected than the typical American child. For the first time in American history, the number of dependents at home, such as spouses and children, outnumbered members of the military in Active Duty and Reserve.  This would put nearly 2 million children a part of a military family, knowing no life outside of these recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Chartrand & Seigel).  According to research in 2009, this close relationship with the war can create several adverse effects within children’s behaviors and attitudes. 60% of military spouses identified increased levels of anxiety and fear when the child’s mother or father left for the war; much of this fear could be recognized within 47% of children, who were reported having increased closeness with other family members due to fear of even a brief separation (Zoroya) .  57% reported increased behavioral outbursts at home, such as tantrums and fits when and after a parent is deployed (Zoroya). Melissa Seligman, a military wife, vividly remembers the screams of protest and resistance from her toddler daughter, unhappy after learning her father would soon be fighting a war far away . As Seligman remembers these tantrums, she concludes: “I knew something was wrong with her…I knew this child felt deeply the loss of her dad (Fantz).”

Losing a parent can be challenging enough within itself; for these now anxious and fearful children, hearing the news of a parent or loved one’s death confirms their strong feelings of fear. As of May 2006, approximately 1600 children have fallen victim to losing a parent as a result of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars (Chartrand & Seigel). However, physically losing a parent is not the only issue that may arise; several children welcome home a physically or mentally injured parent due to these wars abroad. Especially when emotional or mental damage has occurred, recreating a relationship with the once absent parent can be challenging and frustrating. In fact, even coming home as “mentally sound” as possible provides a strain within the parent-child relations due to lack of time spent together and changing personalities. For example, Melissa Seligman witnessed her military husband ask their small boy where his Thomas the Train toys were; after giving his father a look of confusion, the little boy turned away and began playing with a new set of toys filled with his new interests that his father was completely unaware of (Fantz).

Although the 9/11 tragedy that sparked the start of these wars impacted virtually all children, the general population of children has basically been shielded from the war abroad. However, children’s behaviors after losing a parent or having a family member involved has caused extensive research on how these children will develop over time, and how the war will continue to affect them throughout their lifespan.

Works Cited

Arnow, Pat. “From Self-Censorship to Official Censorship.” FAIR. N.p., Mar. 2007. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

Chartrand, Molinda M., and Benjamin Siegel. “At War in Iraq and Afghanistan: Children in US Military Families.” Ambulatory Pediatrics 7.1 (2007): n. pag. ArSCA. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

Fantz, Ashley. “War Affects Children in Unforeseen Ways.” CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Mar. 1970. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

Kalb, Claudia. “9/11’s Children Grow Up.” News Week. Newsweek LLC, 3 June 2010. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

Nauert, Rick. “9/11 Had Significant Impact on Young Children.” Psych Central News. Psych Central, 2010. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

Zoroya, Gregg. “Troops’ Kids Feel War Toll.” USATODAY. N.p., 25 June 2009. Web. 23 Apr. 2014.

Images retrieved from: 

static4.businessinsider.com/image/4e6a6a7c69bedd2302000037-1200/a-second-jet-liner-is-seen-lining-up-with-the-world-trade-center-september-11-2001.jpg

http://www.theodoresworld.net/pics/0509/flagtochildImage15.jpg

 

Advertisements

Effects on Children: The Vietnam Conflict

The Vietnam conflict proved to be a different type of “war” for all of the Americans involved. Children began experiencing a time period unique to themselves and their families, each individual story ranging from one extreme to the other. Therefore, the way this conflict affected the lives of American children was seemingly different than ever before.
As enlistment and wartime began, America witnessed a change in the average age of the soldier. Unlike previous wars, the average soldier was around 19 years old, a huge drop compared to the past (Lieberman). Although 18 years old before heading off to war, soldiers such Paul O’Connell sealed their fate at the young age of 17 by enlisting in the military (O’Connell). These young boys, several still in high school, began charting their own lives in Vietnam. Unlike in America where these high school boys still needed a parent’s permission to play on the football team or receive medical treatment, these “boys” became “men” as they left overseas to fight for their country (Lieberman). This tough transition into a quick adulthood of horrifying battles proved to be disheartening and at times unbearable for these young soldiers. In the diary of Wayne Burton, a soldier during a tour in Vietnam, he writes of a troubled young man getting high on heroine, desperately seeking suicide:
The self-destructive 18-year-old removed a hand grenade from the case in the center of the table, pulled its pin, then put it back in the box, detonating the entire batch” (Burton).
However, the drop in age did more than send young boys off to fight; it also affected the number of husbands and fathers leaving their families. Several letters were written back from these soldiers, beginning with “Dear mom,” or “Dear Dad”, unlike the typical “My dear wife” or “My darling children”. Generally, only two in ten men leaving for Vietnam had a family with children they were leaving behind (Lieberman). The children of these men were seen as “fatherless children”, and although their numbers from previous wars had declined, studies proved that these children suffered from depression, anxiety, and delinquency (Lieberman). However, the general population of children were more likely to see an older brother or young member of their community leave for Vietnam opposed to a father.

Unlike World War II, the general population did not support the war efforts in Vietnam. While this caused less propaganda and toys being created inspired by the war, it also created a new way to publicly oppose the war: children’s songs. Although in some cases adults or family members wrote the songs, each song was sung by a young child with an older brother, father, or another loved one fighting off in Vietnam (Gershwin). In 1967, six-year-old Becky Lamb expressed her wish for her brother’s safe return in what may be the most popular children’s song of this time period, “Little Becky’s Christmas Wish”:
Dear Santa, this is the very first time I’ve ever written to you. All my Christmases have been wonderful and you gave me lots of nice toys. This year mommy says Christmas won’t be the same. Because, well, because my big bother Tommy won’t be here . Not too long ago Tommy was home in a green suit with great big gold buttons” (Gershwin).
Unfortunately, this wish would be put to rest, as Tommy was killed while serving in Vietnam (Gershwin). Other siblings of soldiers sang their own versions of a similar song, such as the child singing “Big Brother Home for Christmas”. This song, however, can be coined as more “anti-war” than several of the other songs portraying this subliminal message. As the lyrics indicate, “the child’s mother prayed each night ‘to bring this terrible war to a close’ and for God to ‘show our president the light’. The child also told the listener that his neighbor ‘burned his draft card under a…Christmas tree'” (Gershwin). This anti-war method was seen by several as cynical and somewhat unethical; they claimed using a child’s small voice would enable people to feel sorry for them, demanding an end to the conflict. However, these songs also brought to light how children with siblings fighting in the war became affected by not only their enlistment, but their unfortunate death as well (Gershwin).

“Losing a family member in Vietnam” became more than a physical death; several soldiers returning home to their families suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. This terrifying disease affected children in several ways. Unfortunately, some children became overwhelmed with the symptoms of PTSD, displaying what came to be known as Secondary Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These children would start displaying symptoms their returning fathers displayed with no other explanation except for living in the home with a PTSD father (Vines). For others, and nearly the majority of children, PTSD would change the relationship they once had with their family member they had loved unconditionally before the war. As the baby of twelve children, my father watched as two of his older brothers left to fight in Vietnam. He remembers each of his brothers talking with him, filling him with pride that these two members of his family would be fighting for America. However, before the war came to a close, one of his brothers became very sick and was rushed home to what was  thought to become his deathbed. My young father’s world turned upside down; as a child, death had been nothing but a foreign concept to him, and now here it was looking him straight in the eyes. Fortunately, after a long period in the hospital, his brother survived; unfortunately, his mind had been permanently damaged by the horrors he faced, becoming a different person.  My father remembers having to deal with the change in his older brother whom he loved so much, watching their relationship change from “carefree” to “careful” (“Interview with my Father”).

Children living on American soil weren’t the only “American” children affected by this conflict; the term “Amerasians” became coined for children of Vietnamese mothers and American soldier fathers. Although there is no official count of these babies born during this time period, the number of children is thought to be more drastic than in any other war, ranging from tens of thousands of children (Dzubow). Because of complicated relations with Vietnam, these children did not qualify to immigrate to America despite the fact that their fathers were citizens of the United States. As a result, several of these “children of the dust” became discriminated against in Vietnam, becoming abused, neglected, homeless, or orphaned (Dzubow). Although these children were not living on American soil, these children did a piece of America within them.

Unlike previous wars, I found that the majority of children affected by the war were those with close families within the war.  Because
this conflict was not fought on the homeland, children were unlikely to die as a result of battle-related injuries.  Also, due to the general lack of public support, children heard less about the conflict in Vietnam.  While my father, who had two brothers fighting in the war, has memories and experiences during the war, my mother, who was also a young child during this time period with no direct family link to the war, does not remember anything special about this time period. The Vietnam Conflict proved to be an experience unique in several different ways, and this can be reflected through the eyes of the children that grew up during this period.

Works Cited

Burton, Wayne M. “Celluloid Versions of War in Vietnam Can’t Compare with the Real Thing.” Diary of a Vietnam Veteran. Richard T. Walsh and Dr. Barbara Poremba, 2001. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

Dzubow, Jason. “Amerasian Homecoming Act – 25 Years Later.” The Asylumist. N.p., 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

Gershwin. “Vietnam War: Children on Record.” Rate Your Music. N.p., 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

“Interview with My Father.” Daniel Whyte. Personal interview. 29 Mar. 2014

Lieberman, E. James. “American Families and the Vietnam War.” Journal of Marriage and Family 33.4, Special Double Issue: Violence and the Family and Sexism in Family Studies, Part 2 (1971): 709-21. JSTOR. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

O’Connell, Paul. “Letters Home.” Paul O’Connell’s Letters Home–index. N.p., 1998. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

Vines, Brannan. “Secondary PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).” Secondary PTSD. N.p., 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

Images retrieved from:

http://pictureshistory.blogspot.com/2010/07/stunning-pictures-from-vietnam-war.html

http://rateyourmusic.com/list/Gershwin/vietnam_war__children_on_record/

http://www.asylumist.com/2013/01/29/amerasian-homecoming-act-25-years-later/

 

Effects on Children: World War II

Although the battles of World War II were primarily fought in countries far from American soil, the war was still here in the minds, behaviors, and actions of nearly every American. As soldiers rushed overseas to join the war efforts, children watched the America they had come to know change before their very eyes.

During the infamous Great Depression, job opportunities were scarce and rare; however, with a high demand for supplies and soldiers for the war, new jobs began sprouting up, giving employment to virtually anyone ready and able to work. While this economic surge may seem completely beneficial to children, this was not necessarily the case. Woman began entering the workforce at astonishing rates, leaving their young children and babies home alone during the work day or night. These young children unable to fend for themselves were found starving and weak in their homes, abandoned and neglected. Newspapers during this time period coined the term “Eight-Hour Orphans” to describe these neglected children (Mintz, S., & McNeil, S). Because of this surge of abandonment and child neglect, the foster system was now crowded with children, having more children than suitable homes to place them in for the first time in history (Mintz, Kellogg). However, leaving a child all alone during the day was not the only option working parents could choose. Daycare facilities offered childcare for children over the age of two, for a drastic price. Not only was daycare a costly option, it was another neglectful issue as well. Facilities became overcrowded with children and ill-equipped to suit basic needs; one small center in particular cared for eighty preschool-aged children with only one bathroom (Mintz, Kellogg).

The result of job opportunities did not always mean the child would stay home alone or in a daycare facility; children began joining the workforce in factories, farms or other businesses. Child labor was a concept that business overs took advantage of for several reasons. For starters, children were more susceptible to verbal and physical abuse and threats, making them more willing and complying to complete a dangerous job an adult refused (The Source: Child Labor). If a machine was experiencing technical problems, small children could easily squeeze into the tight spaces to fix the issue, as well as go deeper into the tighter spaces within mines. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, children received much less pay than their adult coworkers. Multiple children could work for the cost of hiring just one adult worker, which encouraged business owners to hire children that  would work extremely long hours for only a small wage (The Source: Child Labor).  The results of these new job opportunities for children were extreme. With an underestimated account of 1.75 million children working 16 hour days, attendance in schools plummeted while illiteracy skyrocketed (The Source: Child Labor). 25% of children under the age of fifteen, half of which were under the age of twelve, found themselves choosing a dangerous job over a plentiful education (The Source: Child Labor).  Not only were children mentally facing harm, but physical harm was prevalent as well. In one instance, a sixteen year old boy lost an arm while working in a factory, and a fifteen year old child died a brutal death from burns (Mintz, Kellogg).

1940s Teenagers

Besides joining the workforce, several changes were seen within teenage culture. Before the war, teens were expected to follow in the footsteps as their parents, portraying similar values.  However, this time period produced a new culture, filled with new clothes, dances, movies, activities, and hairstyles for teenagers across America. As Archie Satterfield, a WWII teen, remembers this era by writing:
“Gasoline was the biggest problem for a teen ager. We still had cars, and gasoline was our biggest worry of all the rationing. We’d always pick up our dates in sequence when we had gas, and you might end up not taking your date home if it would save gas for you to be dropped off first. You’d kiss your date goodnight in front of your house, not hers. Some guys you didn’t trust very much, and you wondered if they might not be kissing your girl also, because they would drop their date before yours. ” (Mintz, McNeil)

This brings to light another issue faced within teens: “social disease”, or venereal diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea. Delinquency became apparent in girls of younger ages with the emergence of “Victory Girls” (Smith). These girls began getting involved with soldiers, thought to be because of teens now living primarily alone because of both parents working. Because of the lack of foster homes, teenagers began living on the streets or in bad conditions, leading to more delinquency within this population.

Even though actual battles and war were not seen in the United States besides Hawaii, the war was still here.   An enthusiastic President Roosevelt wrote a message to the Official Boy and Girl Scouts of America, encouraging children to recycle scrap, metal, and rubber; children were also encouraged to plant their own victory gardens to help with the war effort (Mintz, McNeil). Several children jumped at the opportunity to make a difference, such as Dick Clark, fourteen years old at the time of the war, who planted a victory garden with the help of his family (Mintz, McNeil).  Children also could show their patriotism by joining the Civil Air Patrol for kids. By becoming a part of this group, children were expected to give those in uniforms hot coffee and their upmost respect. These children, as they carried around wooden guns to drill with, also were taught Morse code and learned about different types of aircraft to look out for (Mintz, McNeil). However, patriotism was spread throughout children through more subliminal methods.  Young children were familiar with a popular wartime rhyme:

Whistle while you work,
Hitler is a jerk,
Mussolini is a weenie,
And Tojo is a jerk. (Mintz, McNeil)

These patriotic rhymes, movies, and radio information created a wild imagination within children, and combat became a game. Because not many toys were made because of materials needed for war, imagination became the main component of play. Sheril Janovsky Cunning, a child during this time, would play war themed games with her sister by making hideouts during a pretend air ride and pretending they had to find shelter and food like the starving orphans in Europe (Mintz, McNeil).  Although there was a lack of toys produced during the war, toys produced were inspired by the war. Toy soldiers, patriotic puzzles, and paper dolls sporting World War II fashions were distributed not only through American,  but through countries such as Britain and Germany as well (Baugh).

Sadly, several children did not have the opportunities to go to school or play with toys during this time period. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were looked upon with much suspicion forced into internment camps. Young Grace Nakamura remembers her experience as her family was forced to uproot their home. This family was put on a crowded train filled with elderly, babies, toddlers, and sick people on stretchers. The shades were drawn and escorted by a police car as this population of people were sent to the internment camps (Mintz, McNeil). Because the conditions of the camps were poor, the school systems within the camps were far from effective.  The schools were generally cold, as preparatory measures to insulate the schools during winter months were poor. A lack of supplies, such as books, chairs, desks, and educated teachers, provided a shoddy education for these American children. One child recalls learning a year’s worth of lessons in just one week due to the lack of materials needed to study the subjects in depth (Mintz, McNeil).  However, this tragedy did not cause each of these Japanese-American children to give up hope; sixteen year old Helen Murao, an orphan caring for her two younger brothers, stands strong in herself and her hope, strongly claiming, “I’m going to prevail, my will is going to prevail, my own life will prevail” (Mintz, McNeil).

Even if a parent did come home from war, the children forgot the parent that had left them years before.  Deborah Gorham, at the tender age of four and a half, watched as her wonderful, “flawless” father left their home and became a soldier in the war.  However, after two years passed by, a different man returns. As Deborah Gorham remembers about her father’s homecoming: “He returned as a deeply troubled, angry man. And he remembered an exuberant 5 year-old, not a shy, gangly 7 year-old” (Mintz, McNeil).

In conclusion, whether by becoming young patriots, growing up fast, orphaned, a loss of a parent, or a loss of their own life due to working, poor care, or internment, children everywhere across American were affected by World War II.  Although their country was seemingly untouched by this war, children watched as America drastically changed because of this tragedy.

Works Cited

Baugh, Alex. “Toys Go To War: World War II Military Toys, Games,       Puzzles and Books by Jack Matthews.” The Children’s War. N.p., 31      May 2012. Web. 2 Mar 2014.

Mintz, Steven, and Susan Kellogg. Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. New York: Free Press, 151-175. Web.

Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2013). Documents World War II. Digital       History. Retrieved 2 March 2014 from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=15&smtID=3

Smith, C. Calvin. “Diluting an Institution: The Social Impact of World War II on the Arkansas Family.”Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 39.01 (1980): 21-34. Web. 2 Mar. 2014.

“The Source: Child Labor.” Eastern Illinois University. 2012. Web. 2 Mar 2014.

Images retrieved from:

mrclark.aretesys.com/child-labor_7866.jpg

indianapublicmedia.org/momentofindianahistory/teenage-patriots-wartime-indianapolis/

japaneseamericaninternmentcamps.wikispaces.com/file/view/jap_internment_camp_school.jpg/281895504/405×333/jap_internment_camp_school.jpg

Effects on Children: The Civil War

Although each child throughout the Civil War had a unique experience, there are certain sections in which the children can be grouped under. While some effects may be common throughout, the different categories of children experienced events particular to their group. Therefore, I have broken the types of children down into four categories: Boy soldiers, Northern children, Southern children, and African American children.

Boy Soldiers

Child Soldiers in the Civil War | Civil War Saga
When Abraham Lincoln announced the legal age to enlist in the Civil War was sixteen, thousands of young boys across the country scrambled to become a part of the army. However, boys from the ages of nine to seventeen were present in the war efforts. Young boys, such as nine-year-old Johnny Clem and Charles Bardeen, served as drummer boys or fifers and rarely or never participated in battle (Bennett).  For some young boys lying about their age in order to fight seemed like a better option. Fifteen-year-old Elisha  Stockwell of Wisconsin was badgered by his father for signing up for the Union Army; his family claimed that he was nothing but a boy and battle was not an option. An outraged, determined Elisha then told his sister he was going into town, where he met up with an army captain. This captain helped Elisha lie about his age in order to get him into the military, where he would be a part of battle. In his diary, Elisha writes of this deceit towards his family by commenting about a conversation with his sister:
“I told her I had to go down town. She said “Hurry back, for dinner will soon be ready.” But I didn’t get back for two years.”
-Elisha Stockwell, Child Soldiers

Other boys did not have a fate of coming home such as Elisha’s. Seventeen-year-old Thomas Garland Jefferson of the Confederacy was killed in battle at the end of the war; Edwin Francis Jemison of the Confederacy was killed by a cannonball at the end of his enlistment (Bennett). Coming home did not necessarily mean that each boy was physically, or even mentally, sound. Although he was not killed, twelve-year-old William Black lost his left arm to a detrimental explosion (Bennett). Suffering no physical wounds, young Charles Bardeen did not necessarily come back home in one piece. The war had mentally harmed this young boy, as he says within his diary memoir:
This is not a history of the war; it is a history of what the war did to poor little me…[and] what it did to other little me’s, thousands of them.”
-Bardeen, A Little Fifer’s War Diary

Children of the North

Three children born and living during the civil war era. Their father ...
Regardless of location, race, or gender, children of the nation were deeply affected by the war. With fathers and brothers off fighting, more responsibilities were placed within children; this meant working long hours, caring for their siblings, and helping out more around the house. Watching close-knit families split over loyalties caused distress within the home and communities everywhere. Orphaned children losing their childhood to working because of war could be found anywhere. However, there were different hardships faced by the two different sides of the conflict. In the Northern regions, seldom battles were being fought; therefore, coming into direct contact with soldiers and skirmishes was not as common. Young Gerald Norcross, a boy living in Massachusetts, kept a diary during the entire length of the Civil War, writing about this time period as if it was another ordinary day of his previous-war life. While he does mention a quite “boring and ineffective” battle he witnessed at the Boston Commons, he generally is untouched by the war (Marten). Although to be this unaffected by the war was uncommon, this serves as an example to show that Union children generally had less experiences with bloody battles or sieges. This, however, does not mean that the children were not learning about or experiencing the war. Through letters from family involved in battles and lessons in the classroom, these children gained knowledge about the war tearing through their country. Rachel Young King Anderson of Minnesota set up a school for the neighborhood children and her son “too young” to be involved in the war efforts, hoping to teach them “something profitable” (A Civil War Diary). These schools created a huge wave of patriotism; however, this was not always a good thing. Conflicts within the Northern states would break out between strong followers of the Union and those who did not necessarily share the same views. Anderson writes in her diary about two men killed by very patriotic local boys and a family with a young daughter sent off because they were “rebels” (A Civil War Diary).  This affected the function within the schools, as teachers and students alike become distraught over the conflicts  at home.

Southern Children

Carrie Berry - Photo Courtesy of The Atlanta History Center
Unlike the children of the North, Southern children faced much more detrimental effects.  By living on the home front, these children witnessed more battles, therefore coming in contact with more soldiers. Carrie Berry, a ten-year-old girl living in Atlanta during the Union capture, kept a diary of her experiences during the war. She is constantly hearing battles within her city, seldomly going outside for the fear of getting hit by the flying shells. Soldiers ransacked houses, including her own home, and burned buildings throughout the city (War Through the Eyes of a Child: The Diary of Carrie Berry). This close contact with battle was not the only detriment faced within the South; with inflation skyrocketing, poverty became a huge issue. Within her diary, Berry writes about how the “times are too hard” to celebrate her birthday, as her father is out looking for work. She also mentions how her parents see themselves as very poor (War Through the Eyes of a Child: The Diary of Carrie Berry). The constant violence and poverty would not only be harmful to Southern children mentally, but physically as well. Surviving these terrifying conditions was the ultimate challenge for these young children.

African American Children

Black school children during the Civil War era.
Being an African American child during a war commonly coined as “the war on slavery” provided a truly unique experience. Before and during the war, some adult slaves were known to murder  their children in order to prevent them from living the painful life slavery had destined for them. Within his diary, Lewis Clarke, a former slave, writes about this issue:
There was a slave mother near where I lived, who took her child into the cellar and killed it. She did it to prevent being separated from her child. Another slave mother took her three children and threw them into a well, and then jumped in with them, and they were all drowned. Other instances I have frequently heard of. At the death of many and many a slave child, I have seen the two feelings struggling in the bosom of a mother — joy, that it was beyond the reach of the slave monsters, and the natural grief of a mother over her child.
-Lewis Clarke, Primary Sources: Civil War Effects

However, the death of a child was not always the choice made. Thomas James, a black minister sent to care for African American soldiers, wrote about orphaned children of slaves, or children with living slave parents, taken from their families and sold for a price or a chance at a better life. Having a father serve in the Union army, however, was the best chance for a better life for these children. This price gave the ultimate payment: freedom. All family members of African American soldiers gained freedom within society; therefore, camps became packed with those trying their hardest to gain that one basic American right. Although the camps were segregated, large schools and hospitals were constructed for the families of soldiers, providing an education and medical care (James, Primary Sources: Civil War Effects).

Were children affected?
Although location, race, and family life played a huge role in determining the effects faced, children all across America were affected by the American Civil War. Whether by becoming orphaned, poverty-stricken, a soldier, or free, children watched with wondrous eyes as the country they once new changed before them.

Works Cited

“A Civil War Diary.” RootsWeb. Sally Conrad, n.d. Web.
14 Feb 2014.

Bardeen, Charles. A Little Fifer’s War Diary. Syracuse: C.W. Bardeen,                  Syracuse, NY, 1910. Web.

Bennett, Santi. “A War They Didn’t Understand.” Prezi. Prezi Inc., 22                May 2011. Web. 14 Feb 2014.

“Child Soldiers .” Digital History. N.p., n.d. Web.
14 Feb 2014.

Marten, James. Children in the Civil War. Diss. Marquette University,                2012. 2012. Web.

“Primary Sources: Civil War Effects.” KET. Kentucky                                                    Educational Television, n.d. Web. 14 Feb 2014.

“War Through the Eyes of a Child: The Diary of Carrie Berry.”The Civil           War in Georgia. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb 2014.

Pictures retrieved from:

civilwarsaga.com

hs-86rogers.wikispaces.com

http://www.gacivilwar.org/story/war-through-the-eyes-of-a-child

http://www.nea.org