The youngest soldier at Hanover?
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that a correspondent from the New York Times was attached to the Union army during the Gettysburg Campaign and had access to the high command of the cavalry corps, as well as some of the infantry. E. A. Paul claimed in an article preserved after the war in Frank Moore’s Rebellion Record that a pre-teen boy served in the 1st Maine Cavalry (J. Irvin Gregg’s brigade) and fought at Gettysburg as a bugler. He also mentions the lad had a horse killed at Hanover. One problem – Gregg’s men were not at Hanover. However, the boy may have been a staff member or volunteer to Judson Kilpatrick.
In any event, here is the reporter’s published story. If true, then this 12-year-old may have been the youngest trooper in the June 30, 1863, Battle of Hanover.
“A little boy named Smith, twelve years of age, who came out as bugler in the First Maine cavalry, was active in the fight, and had a horse killed under him at Hanover. Since that time he has been adopted as an aid by General Kilpatrick, and is always to be seen near the General, whether in a charge or elsewhere. Since Hanover he has had another horse killed under him, and was wounded. Wednesday, July second…”
A search through the records of the 1st Maine Cavalry indicates that an “Eleazer H. Smith” was a musician enrolled in Company M. He is the only Smith listed as a musician in the 1st Maine. However, The History of the First Maine Cavalry by Edward P. Tobie indicates this particular bugler Smith was 27 year old when he enlisted, so he is not likely the boy that E.A. Paul refers to. That same book does mention the name of a soldier in Company K, William Spencer, who was wounded at Hanover, so the regiment did at least see some skirnishing in the region on June 30, contrary to my mistaken belief they were not present.
SMITH, ELEAZER H. — Age 27; res. Monson; mus. Oct. 31, ’01, as bugler; promoted corp. ’63; mustered out Nov. 25, ’64 with the expiration of his term of enlistment.
If any Cannonball readers from Maine know more about young Mr. Smith, please let me know. His pension and service records are likely in the National Archives, but I will not have the time to search for them.