In 2014, getting your driver’s license at 16 or 17 years old is a rite of passage. During the Civil War, a teen rite of passage might have been joining the army — more than a quarter million boys ages 17 and younger fought with the Union and Confederate troops.
Lancaster County author Joel Moore set out to tell the stories of these young soldiers in his four-part series Journey Into Darkness, the final book of which was released last year.
Name: Joel Moore
Lives in: Narvon, Salisbury Township, Lancaster County
Occupation: Author/speaker, retired teacher
Family: Four children, 10 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren
Hobbies: Model railroading, photography, camping
Tell us about the books: The “Journey Into Darkness” series follows Duane Kincade, a farm boy in the Ozark countryside whose father leaves to fight in the Civil War. The second book leads him to the Confederate Army at Corinth, Miss., and into battle near a church called Shiloh at a place called Pittsburg Landing. Book three continues the story as Duane’s decision to set out on his own to join Bragg’s army at Tullahoma proves to be a mistake. A rapid chain of events carries him from capture along a snowy road by a renegade band of Union cavalry, to near death in a blizzard in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, to Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in its winter camp around Fredericksburg.
Late winter is a time of reprieve from war as the boy joins a company from Alabama in which many of its members are related. The beginning of spring sees the reopening of warfare in battle at Chancellorsville. As 1863 stretches into summer, the army moves north Pennsylvania. Duane finds himself crossing the valley at Gettysburg in a great charge against the Union center on Cemetery Ridge.
Where did the idea come from?: As a teenager I enjoyed the short stories in The Saturday Evening Post. After reading one about a drummer boy in the Civil War, I decided to create my own story. I had an interest in the Civil War and had soldiers and materials from the war in my model railroad, which is set in that time period.
I started to write the story and realized I needed to know the history before I could do it right. So it became a campfire story until Charley French heard it and offered to represent Duane in the photography if I would finish writing the story. Four years later, the original manuscripts were finished.
Where can readers purchase a copy?: Aaron’s Books, Lititz, Pa., Landis Valley Museum Store, Landis Valley, Pa., West Chester University book store and Chester County Historic Society Museum store, West Chester, Pa., Civil War Sutler, www.heirloomemporium.com, www.upfromcorinth.com, and other online retailers.