civil-war-teenImagine being a teenager 150 years ago. What would life have been like then as compared to now?


Now: Teens have a many activities to fill up their schedules: school, shopping, hanging out.
Then: During the 1860’s, teens enjoyed social time, but most activities were on hold to adjust for war. According to Kimberlee Bruce, Living History Coordinator for the Sesquicentennial, girls were often concerned that the war interrupted the social season! Popular things to do? Charades and taffy pulling.


Now: Texts, cell phones, Internet. Teens now are constantly connected to one another and their families. They can even see the people they’re communicating with on certain devices or with certain applications.
Then: Primary forms of communication during the war included letter writing, diaries and memoirs. During battles, teen boys played a crucial role in communication, according to Barbara Willis at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. Children as young as 11 years old would serve as drummer boys guiding the soldiers via the sound of their drumbeats.


Now: Teen life is never easy. Concerns for teenagers include peer pressure, bullying, social acceptance and kindling young romance.
Then: Teens in the 1860s faced the fear of war. Young boys either fought in the war or became the man of the house when their fathers went to battle. Teen girls grew up fast, helping their mothers maintain the house.

Learn more!

• Visit the Virginia Room at the Headquarters library and read the memoirs, especially Francis Bernard Goolrick’s account of fleeing downtown during the First Battle of Fredericksburg.

• Attend the Sesquicentennial events.

• Play around on web sites, such as!