Young Drummer Boy from West Chester Gave His Life to the Civil War Cause

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Charley King, a twelve-year-old boy from West Chester, joined the war effort in 1861 as a drummer, but his love for music ended up costing him his life, writes Mark E. Dixon for Main Line Today.

When Civil War broke out in 1861, King was among the many who wanted to go. While his parents said no, the captain of a Chester County company, James Givin, who was also a music lover, promised his family he would keep him safe.

At first, Charley spent most of the time with the regiment waiting for orders. Then, in late 1861, Company F of the 49th Regiment started its march toward the front. Several battles later, after Confederate General Robert E. Lee decided to invade Maryland, General George B. McClellan’s army, including the 49th, gave chase. The army ended up engaging at the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, which remains the bloodiest day in American military history.

Charley died three days later.

“He was a remarkable boy, and truly may it be said of him that he was not as other boys,” reported the Jeffersonian at the time.

Read more about the drummer boy in Main Line Today.

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