James Scythes on “This will make a man of me: The Life and Letters of a Teenage Officer in the Civil War”
This presentation focuses on the life of seventeen-year-old Thomas James Howell, who was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Tom Howell’s experiences give us a rare look at the war through the eyes of a teenage officer. The letters that he wrote home to his family tell the story of a young man coming of age in the army. As a young officer, he faced particular challenges as he sought to earn the respect of both the men he commanded and his superiors. Despite the challenges he faced, Howell believed that it was his duty to serve and by serving he would prove that he was a man. This study represents a valuable addition to Civil War literature by offering a unique perspective of the war as it was seen through the eyes of a teenage officer.
James Scythes earned a B.A. in history at Rowan University and has a Master of Arts in history from Villanova University. He is a tenure track Instructor of History at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. His research interests focus on antebellum America, American Civil War, and 19th century military history. Professor Scythes has published a number of encyclopedia articles, and in July 2016 Lehigh University Press published his first book, “This Will Make a Man of Me”: The Life and Letters of a Teenage Officer in the Civil War. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at the Gloucester County Historical Society, and is a member of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia.