Who was the youngest person to serve in the U.S. military?
In May 1861, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the call for volunteers to serve in the Union army for a three-year term, John Lincoln Clem tried to enlist. Not yet 10 years old, Clem’s service was refused by the newly formed 3rd Ohio.
However, Clem later was allowed to join the 22nd Michigan, first as a mascot and unofficial drummer boy. The officers chipped in to pay his monthly salary of $13 before he finally was allowed to officially enlist in 1863 at the age of 12. He was armed with a musket sawed down to fit him.
Clem was promoted to sergeant and became a national hero before his discharge in 1864 at the age of 12. He rejoined the US Military in 1871 and went on to become a major general before his final retirement in 1915.
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