In every war, there are stories that captivate us, stories of courage, determination, and sacrifice. One such story is that of Charley King, a 12-year-old boy from West Chester, Pennsylvania, who became the youngest soldier to die in the American Civil War. His remarkable tale has been meticulously researched and brilliantly narrated by local author Brendan Lyons in his book Charley: The True Story of the Youngest Soldier to Die in the American Civil War.
Unveiling the Monument
Lyons first encountered Charley’s story as part of his Eagle Scout project. With assistance from the Bradbury Camp of the Sons of Union Veterans in West Chester, he launched a fundraising campaign to erect a monument in honor of Charley. Today, the monument stands proud in Greenmount Cemetery, an enduring symbol of Charley’s sacrifice. However, the exact location of Charley’s final resting place remains a mystery.
Delving Deeper into Charley’s Story
Intrigued by Charley’s tale, Lyons embarked on a journey to uncover more about this young soldier. His extensive research culminated in a book, released on July 15th, 2023, which is a riveting blend of narrative non-fiction and historical documentation.
Drawing from numerous historical references, Lyons traces Charley’s path from enlistment to his death at the Battle of Antietam. Despite the scarcity of direct references to Charley’s activities during this time, Lyons meticulously constructs a vivid portrayal of Charley’s experiences.
The Journey of a Young Soldier
The book begins in West Chester, where 12-year-old Charley, sensing the impending war, leads his neighborhood children in marching around town. When a neighbor, Benjamin Sweeney, decides to form Company F to join the 49th Pennsylvania Infantry, Charley’s persistence convinces his parents to allow him to enlist.
Charley’s story unfolds as he marches with the Army of the Potomac, experiencing grueling marches, fierce battles, loss, sickness, and fear. His life tragically ends at the Battle of Antietam, marking the end of the journey for the youngest soldier to die in the Civil War.
Unveiling Charley King
Charley: The True Story of the Youngest Soldier to Die in the American Civil War by Brendan J. Lyons offers an in-depth look into Charley King’s life. The book has received rave reviews, with Argunners.com praising it for its engrossing depiction of the Civil War era. It also comes highly recommended for young readers, making it a valuable addition to middle school, high school, and community library collections.
Brendan Lyons hails from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. He is a proud alumnus of Villanova University, where he earned a degree in History Education. His passion for history led him to Charley’s story in 2004, and he has since dedicated his efforts to honoring Charley’s memory.
As we approach the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam on September 17th, let us remember the bravery and sacrifice of the young Charley King, whose story serves as a stark reminder of the harsh realities of war.
Interested in delving into Charley’s fascinating story? Charley: The True Story of the Youngest Soldier to Die in the American Civil War is available for purchase on Amazon. For more information about the book and the publisher, visit the publisher’s page.