Boy Soldiers of the American Revolution

By Caroline Cox

Foreword by Robert Middlekauff

232 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6395-1
    Published: February 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-2753-3
    Published: April 2016
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-2754-0
    Published: February 2016

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Awards & distinctions

A 2016 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Between 1819 and 1845, as veterans of the Revolutionary War were filing applications to receive pensions for their service, the government was surprised to learn that many of the soldiers were not men, but boys, many of whom were under the age of sixteen, and some even as young as nine. In Boy Soldiers of the American Revolution, Caroline Cox reconstructs the lives and stories of this young subset of early American soldiers, focusing on how these boys came to join the army and what they actually did in service. Giving us a rich and unique glimpse into colonial childhood, Cox traces the evolution of youth in American culture in the late eighteenth century, as the accepted age for children to participate meaningfully in society--not only in the military--was rising dramatically.

Drawing creatively on sources, such as diaries, letters, and memoirs, Caroline Cox offers a vivid account of what life was like for these boys both on and off the battlefield, telling the story of a generation of soldiers caught between old and new notions of boyhood.

About the Author

Caroline Cox (1954-2014) was professor of history at the University of the Pacific and author of A Proper Sense of Honor: Service and Sacrifice in George Washington’s Army.
For more information about Caroline Cox, visit the Author Page.


“Expertly detail[s] the social fabric of the founding era. . . . Highly recommended for readers interested in the American Revolution and children’s history, as well as those seeking a different perspective on why people fight in wars.”--Library Journal, starred review

“This exemplary volume is required reading for anyone interested in the history of childhood and the American Revolutionary War. Essential.”--Choice

“[This book] has a place on myriad bookshelves, especially of any American sociologist or historian.”-- On Point

"An impeccable work of scholarship that fills an important gap in the historiography of many fields, including military history and the history of childhood and colonial America."--North Carolina Historical Review

“Cox has produced a thoroughly researched and well-written account not only of the wartime experiences of the boys who served in the Revolutionary War but also how those experiences further our understanding of soldier motivations, generational relationships, family life, the work lives of young people, and the maturation process from boyhood to manhood.”--The Historian

“Vividly re-creating both the lived experience and shifting cultural significance of boy soldiers, Caroline Cox offers a rich account of what military service meant to boys and those around them. Persuasive and effective, this book will become the standard work on boy soldiers in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.”--Corinne T. Field, University of Virginia