Soldier's Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers

Soldier's Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers

by Gary Paulsen


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In June 1861, when the Civil War began, Charley Goddard left his farm and enlisted in the First Minnesota Volunteers. He was fifteen. He didn't rightly know what a "shooting war" meant, or what he was fighting for. All he knew was that he didn't want to miss out on a great adventure.

The shooting war meant the horror of combat and the wild luck of survival. It meant knowing how it feels to cross a field toward the enemy, waiting for fire. Waiting for death. And Charley learned 'This is how it's done."

When he entered the service he was a boy. When he came back he was different. He was only nineteen, but he was a man said to have a soldier's heart.

Battle by battle, Gary Paulsen shows one boy's war through one boy's eyes and one boy's heart, and gives a voice to all the anonymous young men who fought in the Civil War. Listeners will finish this audiobook and know, this is how it's done.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780756902711
Publisher: Random House Childrens Books
Publication date: 09/28/2000
Pages: 106
Sales rank: 506,229
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Gary Paulsen is the author of more than 100 books.

Read an Excerpt

JUNE 1861

He heard it all, Charley did; heard the drums and songs and slogans and knew what everybody and his rooster was crowing.

There was going to be a shooting war. They were having town meetings and nailing up posters all over Minnesota and the excitement was so high Charley had seen girls faint at the meetings, just faint from the noise and hullabaloo. It was better than a circus. Or what he thought a circus must be like. He'd never seen one. He'd never seen anything but Winona, Minnesota, and the river five miles each way from town.

There would be a shooting war. There were rebels who had violated the law and fired on Fort Sumter and the only thing they'd respect was steel, it was said, and he knew they were right, and the Union was right, and one other thing they said as well—if a man didn't hurry he'd miss it. The only shooting war to come in a man's life and if a man didn't step right along he'd miss the whole thing.

Charley didn't figure to miss it. The only problem was that Charley wasn't rightly a man yet, at least not to the army. He was fifteen and while he worked as a man worked, in the fields all of a day and into night, and looked like a man standing tall and just a bit thin with hands so big they covered a stove lid, he didn't make a beard yet and his voice had only just dropped enough so he could talk with men.

If they knew, he thought, if they knew he was but fifteen they wouldn't take him at all.

But Charley watched and Charley listened and Charley learned.

Minnesota was forming a volunteer regiment to go off and fight. It would have near on a thousand men when it was full, men from Winona andTaylor's Falls and Mankato and as far north as Deerwood and from the capital, St. Paul, as well.

A thousand men. And Charley had learned one thing about an army: One part of an army didn't always know the business of another part. The thousand men in the regiment would be in companies of eighty to a hundred men from each section and it would be hard for a man to know men who weren't from the same area.

Charley couldn't join where they knew him. Somebody would spill the beans and he'd get sent back or used as a runner or drummer boy. He wasn't any boy. He was going to sign to fight as a man and he knew a way to do it.

They would gather at Fort Snelling, up along the Mississippi. All the companies from all the towns would assemble there before they went off to fight.

He'd just take him a walk, Charley would, take a walk by himself until he was at Fort Snelling and there he would lie about his age and sign up as a man and get him a musket and a uniform and go to see what a war was like.

"I won't get into any trouble, Ma," he said, wrapping some bread and cold potatoes and half a roast chicken in some tow cotton. "Plus they'll be paying me. I hear they give eleven dollars a month. I'll send most of it on home to you and Orren." Orren was his younger brother. "You can use the money and I won't be under your feet all the time...."

"You aren't under my feet." She hated it when he talked fast. He always got his way when he talked fast. He'd smile and that cowlick would stand up in the back and he'd talk fast and she couldn't keep him from what he wanted. He was a good boy, as good as they came, but ever since his father, Paul, had been kicked to death by a horse gone mad when a swarm of bees landed on it, Charley only had to smile and talk fast and he got his way. "You haven't ever been under my feet."

"Same as," he said, shaking his head. "I'm always in the way. Best I go off and see what the big fuss is all about."

"You ain't but a boy."

"And I've got to be a man sometime. You've said it more than once yourself. Charley, you said, you've got to be a man. Well, here it is—my chance to be a man. A boy wouldn't go off to earn eleven dollars a month and wear a uniform. Only a man. So I'm going to be a man and do what a man can do."

And he won. She knew he would and he did and he took his bread and cold potatoes and chicken and left home walking down the road for Fort Snelling, and if she had known what was to come of it, if she had known and could tell him what would come of it, she would have fought to drag him back and let the federal government keep their eleven dollars a month.

But she also had heard the songs and the slogans and seen the parades, had been to the meetings, and though it was her son Charley leaving she did not think it would be so bad. Nobody thought it would be so bad. Nobody thought it could be so bad. And all the officers and politicians and newspapers said it would be a month or two, no longer.

It would all be over by fall.

From the Audio Cassette (Unabridged) edition.

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Soldier's Heart (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 117 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the few books ive ever read because I don't find reading very fun, but this book was amazing and since I'm very intrested in history this book was easy for me to understand. The author did a great job of showing the setting and didn't use too much or too little dialog. The book kept my attention the whole way through. Even tho the ending was a happy one. It kept me thinking. I deff. recommend this to everyone because its easy to read and gets your attention.
ErinElaine More than 1 year ago
As an avid reader, I've scarcely ever hated a book. I consider myself to be good at seeing the light in even the dimmest of stories. I read this book because it was on the list for The Assembly of Literature Among Adolescents, an English festival I will be attending come March. I tried very hard to find heart in this novel. The book is played up to be very heartfelt, touching, and emotional; the story of a young boy and the struggle of his heart. However, I saw none of that in the story. I felt that Paulsen wrote in a rather mediocre style, more as a sort of bland documentary of a war already too glamorized in the media. I saw no emotion whatsoever in this utterly forgettable story, a story that, mind you, SHOULD have been quite meaningful. I recommend this book to the most naive of readers, looking for information and simplicity, nothing more. Do not pick up this book if you are looking for an inspiring, well written story that will TRULY illustrate the cruelties of war. This book will not do that for you.
D1-Luke More than 1 year ago
Soldier’s Heart By:Gary Paulsen Choosing to read historical fiction as opposed to reading just facts of battles and important date helps you understand people’s feelings and can even interest you more. Soldier's Heart does both while, also giving important facts and telling about battle. Charley is set out on the adventure of a lifetime that he’s determined not to miss out on. He leaves home to join the First Minnesota Volunteers and gets shocked by the brutalness of a “shooting war.” Not knowing when or if he will die, he has to fight to survive.  Soldier’s Heart is enjoyable to read but also a good way to learn about the  Civil War. It shows how hard life was. Also, it shows what a soldier thought. For instance, in the book, the main character Charley didn’t even know what he was actually fighting for. It as well shows time of battle. During those times, Charley would see lots of men falling and even some he knew but he would always have to go on or he himself would be shot.  Lastly, it tells you what you need to know about the Civil War like the facts, dates, and battles. In conclusion, this book is a great way to learn the story of a soldier’s daily life and what time of war was like. Sometimes history, about wars, is not just about the battles themselves, but the new life people are forced toget accustomed to because of the fighting.
Ninap123 More than 1 year ago
After reading Soldiers Heart by Gary Paulsen, I give it a 3.5 out of 5.  I must say that I didn’t enjoy it very much.  I typically prefer a more action packed novel.  This story was interesting and educational, but hardly captivating.  I couldn’t relate to the main character because I felt like he didn’t give a second thought to his decisions and when he felt the consequences of his mistakes, he goes about it in a weak and defeated way.  Although, despite that I did enjoy the educational aspect.  It seemed like the events were accurate and there were very nice details about the main character’s  surroundings.  The book is about a boy named Charley Goddard.  He left his home and family in Minnesota to volunteer as a Union soldier.  He wasn’t sure what he would find on the battlefield, but he sought “adventure”.  Once he leaves Minnesota and begins his journey South and deeper into the war, he starts to understand what he got himself into.  Now, Charley must continue to fight even when others must fall.  In the end, he learns the true meaning of courage in the face of danger. Though this book was not my favorite novel, this book was an ideal quick read for both those who want to learn and those who want to teach.  This book gives you a clear idea of the lifestyle of a union soldier.  For example, it teaches us about how some of the drafted soldiers did not know what they were getting into because they had no means of comparison.  Another example would be how the soldiers were often unable to recover from the trauma they experienced in the war. The trauma followed them back into their lives after the war and cause mental difficulties.  I thought that this book provided me with a great opportunity to learn more about the emotional effects on the soldiers in the Civil War.   Overall, Soldiers Heart was a good book that would suit the interest of learners and teachers of the Civil War.
Linda Cook More than 1 year ago
I read this book for school and i loved it by the end. It actually goes by very fast. His facts are accurate too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Soldiers Heart by Gary Paulsen is a historic fiction book. If you are interested in history about the civil war then this is a good book for you. Charley is a 16 year old who wants to join the army, but he needs to be 18 to join. He lies about his age and he knows that his voice is getting deep enough to trick the guards. After he got enlisted he fought in three very brutal battles and bloody battles. He sent the money he earned back home to his mom and his brother.
CatFishBilly More than 1 year ago
Soldiers Heart is a good book about the great adventure of Charley Godard a 15-year-old boy at the time leaves his farm to join the first Minnesota volunteers. He didn’t know what war was but he knew it be a great adventure so he went off and found out the horror of what the war was. But he joined so he couldn’t get out now so he stayed to see his friend’s come and die but death did not come to Charley, He lived through it all knew how it was to shot at people across a field and watch them drop but he lived because he had a Soldier’s Heart. Gary Paulsen did a great job on this book it’s a fiction but with a mostly real elements and it really feels like you’re inside this 15-year-old boy. Experiencing war for the first time I think you should get this book because it’s a great story about a very brave young boy. Who fought in most the battles of the civil war I like the old time style of the overall book and the story it tells. About Charley and that’s why I think you should get this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is soooo good i even did a book report on it. Great book!!
tldew More than 1 year ago
Paulsen's books are great! My sons are dyslexic, these books have been such motivation encouragement my youngest has gone from the lower 5% to the upper 97% in reading in just 1 semester, Thanks Gary!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, I simply loathe history. It's a subject I can't stand learning or reading about a boring past that has nothing to do with me here. Even though I do get straigh A's in ALL subjects, I can't seem to do much for history. However, this amazing book has put a turn in my view of the civil war. I though the civil war was a boring subject to learn about, but this book is so attractive, I finally understand some part of history! I really wish there were more interesting books explaining history for those who are troubled.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gary Paulsen has a great way of telling a story of a young man named Charley who was in a war in which he had to fight. He saw his officer, lieutenant, fellow soldiers and friends. There was a lack of food for the soldiers. Most food was given to the sick. Charley and the others were usually hungry. At the slight chance that he would be able to eat he would get nauseous. When he had filled his canteen one dark night he found out that there were dead bodies in the stream and that his canteen had a pinkish color in it. Charley has a way of not dying and he is very lucky. Every day he hears bullets and gunshots and people screaming and dying but yet he still has the strength to move on and live through it. Charley has a hard time getting through the hardships and the fact that all of his friends are desperate to get home and are hungry. The doctor of the camp told him to find meat for the sick and injured. The camp had already eaten through the cattle. All that was left were the eleven rebel horses¿ Charley and three other men killed the eleven horses. Charley was sad to do it because he liked horses and grew up with them. They killed and skinned the horses. Charley and the men fed the horse meat to the sick and told them it was cattle. They knew it wasn¿t but ate it anyway. After feeding the sick, Charley and the others set off for battle. He can tell that he is getting close to battle. As Charley rode to battle he discovered that he had gotten a lot better when he tried to figure out how big the battles were. If there were a lot of sounds that meant it was a big battle, a few shots meant that it was small. This battle was big. As the battle continues, Charley thinks he gets shot in the shoulder. It turns out to be another mans blood. After this battle the troops march to Gettysburg. Charley survives the battle of Gettysburg. He was twenty-one and was happy in Minnesota. I would recommend this book to the people who like war stories and historical fiction. Children under the age of thirteen should not read this book because of the gore and violence. Gary Paulsen is a good author and he works are great to read
Guest More than 1 year ago
What would you do if you were fifteen and war broke out? Would you lie about your age and join the army? I wouldn¿t. That is exactly what Charley did in this realistic fiction book, Soldier¿s Heart, by Gary Paulsen. Charley was in a time of extreme racism and prejudice. Charley joined the army to see more of the country and to become a man. Little did he know that this experience would change his life forever. Many of his friends that he made, he lost in the war. . Paulsen writes Soldier¿s Heart based on a true story. Charley actually was a real person. He actually suffered these wounds. The timeline of Charley is true except for some added details. Paulsen hooked me on this masterpiece, I could hardly put it down. It is full of excellent details. I thought I was actually in the Civil War right there next to Charley. I recommend Soldier¿s Heart to anyone who loves to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Soldiers Heart, a book writen by Gary Paulsen, is about a 15 year old boy named Charley who joins the war because he wants to become a man. Charley fights in many battles. He goes from Winona, Minnesota to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Charley was a changing boy -- in some of the battles he was a good fighter but, in other battles he was a worried boy. My opinion is i thought charley was going to die in all the battles that he got hit with all the bullets.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book 'Soldiers Heart' was an ok book . Gary Paulsen made this book an anti war book. He used many good description words. He also used many diferent actions to make you fell like you are there. Charliey was the main character. He lives in Winona, Minnesota. He went away from he small town tp sign up for the army. He was only 15 years old and lied about his age to he can sign up for the war. He signed up because he thought it would make him a man. He went though many mounths of tranning. Then he went to go fight in his first battle. The Rebels killed many of the people in the first battle. They called this battle the Battle of Bull Run. This book makes you fell like you were there. This is a good book by Gary Paulsen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was a good read
younghutch2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book that I read was Soldiers Heart. It was by Gary Paulsen. The book was non-fiction. The book Soldiers Heart was good because it gave a lot of detail in the story and it gave me an image of what the story was about.The story took place between 1861-1865. The author¿s purpose was to show how these people fought in the Civil War. There were a lot important events. One important event was that Charley was shot in the war and was really wounded. Another important event was that Charley never wanted to be in the war and he tried to tell people that, but he had no choice but to get out of the war.This whole story was about the North and the South. The North¿s story was that they wanted to stop slavery. The South¿s story was that they wanted their freedom and they wanted to keep slavery. There was only one highlighted event and it was that Charley¿s mother and father died. At the end Charley died because he did not go to the hospital and he didn¿t get bandaged up. The book was good in the beginning and the middle of the story, but at the end of the story it was sad. I really liked this book and I hope someone else reads it to.
mcoller36 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Soldier¿s Heart Book ReviewBy: hockey36Have you ever lied about your age to get into something? Charley was fifteen and lied about his age to get into the war. Soldier¿s Heart by Gary Paulsen has 106 pages, published by Dell Laurel-leaf, and was written by 1998 by Gary Paulsen. The book Soldier¿s Heart was educational because it tells you what war was like, what they ate and did, and how hard it is.In this book, charley traveled many places during the war. He mostly stayed on the eastern side of the United States. There isn¿t a main setting. The story Soldier¿s Heart is told by charley, the main character. The protagonist of the story is charley. The book sometimes was sad because people are dying. One of charley¿s best friends was nelson. In the war, charley fought against the rebels, the confederates, and sometimes the union soldiers. There were also many lieutenants. If one died, they would find another lieutenant. Fifteen year old charley lied about his age so he could get into the war. He then decided he didn¿t like the war and wanted to leave. He couldn¿t leave. Then, he met a friend, Nelson; Nelson then died because he got shot. Charley was lying against a tree. A homeless looking guy came and asked charley if he wanted some southern tobacco. Charley then found out he was a rebel. They both talk about how it is terrible they have to fight each other. A lieutenant told charley to go to the doctor because he was bleeding. Charley didn¿t hurt anywhere. He then finds out it was other people¿s blood. To make himself useful at the hospital, the doctor asked him to stack the dead bodies so the cold air wouldn¿t come in. a quote from the book was, ¿load my rifle, will you, Charley?¿ nelson said. Even though nelson was dying, he still wanted his rifle loaded if he died. He had a Soldier¿s Heart.The book Soldier¿s Heart was educational because it tells you what war was like, what they ate and did, and how hard it was. I felt the book was great because it was very descriptive and interesting. I would recommend this book for 8-14 year olds. It taught me many things about the war and what life was like in the 1800¿s. I don¿t think I would ever lie about my age to get into the war.
travenwill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Charley is too young to join the Civil War, so he lies. In this historical fiction novel, Charley is used to show how life in the Civil War was. Charley sees action in most of the major battles of the war. Easy to read and a must for history lovers.
brigitte64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Every teenager wo is thinking about joining the Army shoud read this. An important and realistic description about the civil war. Well written.!
PrinceKelso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We had to read this book for school. I honestly didn't think it was that great. It wasn't written very well, and seemed rushed. However, it was historically accurate, and realistic. It was also very sad, sad enough to provoke emotion in me, so I will give it that. 3/5.
wchagin57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A really good book i would say. I'm glad my librarian recommended it to me:)
cocacola11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Soldiers Heart is a book that takes place back in the civil war. It is about a guy named Charlie, he is only 15 but he wants to join the army, he gets what he wants but he wishes nothing more than to go home.
shelf-employed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿There was going to be a shooting war¿ the excitement was so high Charley had seen girls faint at the meetings...It was better than a circus.¿ Such was the mood in Minnesota on the eve of the Civil War, and such is the mood in the beginning of the historical fiction novel, Soldier¿s Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers. Charley, only 15 years old, but planning to lie about his age, sets off for the war on foot, taking only some bread, cold potatoes and half a roast chicken wrapped in cotton. The simplicity of Charley¿s life is established early in the book. Charley learns quickly of warfare, eventually excelling in the art of ¿kill or be killed.¿ Gary Paulsen does not shy from revealing the abominations of war. Charley's journey takes him into the fray of some of the war¿s bloodiest battles ¿ Bull Run and Gettysburg. The horrors of war are apparent as the young boy stops at a creek to drink and fill his canteen. Only after he has slaked his thirst does he realize that the water is tinged with pink from the blood of dead and dying bodies lying upstream. He tries to vomit, but can¿t. Later, bloodied in an engagement, he is sent to the battlefield surgeon. The surgeon cannot operate in the wind and freezing cold. Charley is put to work constructing a windbreak using the only available materials ¿ frozen dead bodies. He piles them five feet high and thirty feet wide; then sleeps, exhausted in the lee.He returns to Winona, Minnesota, but he is not the same boy who left.The Author¿s Note reveals that although the book is historical fiction, Charley Goddard was a real soldier. Many of the events in the book, including the dead man¿s wall are factual. A selected list of resources follows the Author¿s Note. On the cover and frontispiece, photographs of Charley add interest and authenticity to the story. A map illustration helps the reader to follow his journey.A foreward explains ¿Soldier¿s Heart,¿ the Civil War era term to describe what later was known as shell shock, battle fatigue, and finally post traumatic stress disorder. Sadly, this story is still relevant today as the United States is embroiled in the Iraq war. The horrors of war do not change with the passing of time, only the manner of death changes. This YA title is an excellent glimpse into the visceral side of armed conflict. The use of a young protagonist, particularly a true life character, renders the story more believable and more disturbing. It is sure to provoke thought.Connections:Suggested fiction books for children interested in this topic:The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen CraneBull Run by Paul Fleischman Suggested nonfiction titles:Secrets Of A Civil War Submarine: Solving The Mysteries Of The H. L. Hunley by Sally M. Walker (BCCB Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award)Lincoln: In His Own Wordsby Milton Meltzer (1994 Orbis Pictus Award)Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman (1988 Newbery Award) For public library patrons, suggest The Civil War, Ken Burns' 2002 documentary for PBS.
robertson18 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moving account of the Civil War, told from the perspective of a 15-year old boy from Minnesota.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so good but violent