The Boy's War
Leave this field empty
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
By Katherine Seiler
Pin It

One Hundred and fifty-five years ago, the first widely photographed war began. This war was known as "The Boy's War" or more commonly, The American Civil War. 

It is estimated that 20% of all Civil War soldiers, were younger than 18 years old. Because of their young age and size, most were given uniforms too large for them.  Edward Black, eight years old, and Johnny Clem, age eleven, were prime examples.

Although these images do not specifically tell the story of Edward or Johnny Clem, "The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga",  they do tell the story of all the young boys, North and South, who took up arms during the Civil War. 

As casualties climbed during the Civil War, more soldiers were needed. Recruiters often turned the other way and allow children younger than 18 to enlist.  They became musicians, drummer boys, messangers, nurses or the like, but the time would come where most of these young boys, far from home, would need to fight for their lives. 


Imagine being eleven years old, again. 

Far from home. 

Far from everyone you love. 

Tired, hungry, cold or intolerably hot. 

The noise all around you. Cannon's firing and the smell of gun powder filling the air. 
Men shouting, some dying, but, you need to keep rattling your drum.

Imagine the fear that would come over you, the strength being mustered to hold your tears back.

You want to run,  but you can't. You are frozen in place.

And then, the moment comes. 

At age eleven, you need to make a decision.

Life or death. 

Visions of your family flood your mind. The laughter of your little siblings in the open field as you play in the fresh air that has a distinct smell of wild flowers and fresh cut hay. The sound of your father chopping wood for the warm fire. The smell of your mother's fresh baked bread. The birds singing their lullaby, and the touch of your mother's gentle kiss on your forehead as she tucks you in for the night.  

But you aren't there anymore.

The screams grow loader, the smell of gun powder and blood, stronger. Tears roll down your face. 

Placing your drum down, you grab a riffle from the hands of a dying soldier near you, and say a prayer. 

This is our American History. These are the images of innocence lost. 


Photography: Katherine Seiler, O'Seiler Photography
Makeup: Katherine Seiler
Costume: Katherine Seiler
Model: C.S.  
O'Seiler Photography

For more information in the Civil War please visit 




Leave a comment:
Al Buschauer - Amazing work.. proud to have you in the professional portrait arena. Your images are moving and timeless! Great story and beautiful work. Thanks for sharing.
Doreen Bidwell - Having lived the first 30 years of my life in Wisconsin and the last 27 in the South I have learned that many here are still fighting that battle. The scars run deep on both sides but the South seems to have had a harder time getting past it. Your wonderful images portray a tragic time in our history no matter which side you were on. The story especially hits home if you have young sons or grandsons. May we never experience that kind of division again.
Linda Young - Katie, you are so talented. I enjoying looking at your work. This one here is especially dear to my heart as the Civil War is one of my favorite periods of history. Thank you
Amelia Kessem - Absolutely amazing! The talent seen in these photos is beyond what words can describe! Well done! Thank you for telling this story of these brave young boys. God Bless their little souls.
Kevin and Diane oneill - These photographs are incredible. So moved by the photos and story. Thank you for bringing this piece of history to us to memorialize and celebrate the lives of these soldiers and the most horrific time in this countries history. You have done another awesome job, bringing life to the moments on film.