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

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by Gary Paulsen

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Gary Paulsen introduces readers to Charley Goddard in his latest novel, Soldier's Heart.  Charley goes to war a boy, and returns a changed man, crippled by what he has seen.  In this captivating tale Paulsen vividly shows readers the turmoil of war through one boy's eyes and one boy's heart, and gives a voice to all the anonymous young men…  See more details below


Gary Paulsen introduces readers to Charley Goddard in his latest novel, Soldier's Heart.  Charley goes to war a boy, and returns a changed man, crippled by what he has seen.  In this captivating tale Paulsen vividly shows readers the turmoil of 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Little Charley Goddard was a soldier with a secret. This diminutive, grim-faced Minnesota volunteer was underage; only fifteen; seduced by the sound of drums and songs and slogan to march off to a war he couldn't imagine. An electrifying and sobering Civil War novel.

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Random House Children's Books
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12 Years

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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 and Taylor'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 Hardcover edition.

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Soldier's Heart (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 104 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.
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.
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.
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.
ConnorW More than 1 year ago
I read Soldier’s Heart a historical fiction novel last year but I did not have any historical knowledge of what the Civil War was about, I thought it was a great book then, I couldn’t put it down it was chalk full of action and a new battle every chapter.  It always kept me on the edge of my seat not knowing what characters may die since we get attached to many of them throughout the book it really allowed me the reader to put myself in the main characters’ shoes (Charley Goddard).  The big struggle for Charley was to adjust to the environment of war, Charley would always get sick from the food they gave him, he was also very apprehensive about the whole idea of the war and if it was reasonable, his indecisiveness to stand up and fight when others are dying all around him who were doing the same was messing with his head throughout the book questioning if he should be there or if anyone should have to go through this. The different themes of pride, to never give up, and to believe in something was hidden behind every sentence always leading to the same lesson, if you believe in something go for it.  This year since we are studying U.S. history and now on the Civil War I thought now would be an appropriate time to re-read this novel and just like the first time I read it I was surprised with every chapter and the horrific events that took place I seem to understand the novel more and it had a much greater impact on me since I know what the reasons were and the purpose of fighting.  Overall, this is one of the best books that I have ever read a surprise behind every corner and a book I truly couldn’t put down.  I definitely would recommend this book to a friend.  But I do also recommend you have prior knowledge about the Civil War to get the general idea so it makes more sense and means more to you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To church
MMH72 More than 1 year ago
I have read quite a few books about the civil war and this one fell very short.  While it was short and to the point there were details that could have been brought to the story that were omitted.  For me it just wasn't what I was looking for.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was really interesting i think that if someones really interested in history this is the book for you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Luved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ww777 More than 1 year ago
He was a young boy from Minnesota that wanted to enroll into the army but his mom wasnt so for him going but he stood up to his mom and said he is old enough to make his own decisions. He ate some salted pork and some bread and then he had to get ready for war. Then when charley was reforming and he saw his buddy nelson laying there with a tummy wound and he said the ambulance will come get you but nelson new that they just let people with tummy wounds to  die slowly because there was no way to fix it. There was many people dying because of diarrhea and measles.  The house wives Made a lot of meals for the soldiers. Charley and the Union army walk 26 miles to the next battle and charley could hear the war from miles. When he was fighting at gettysburg they made the whole unit charge including Charley. The author does good identifying the people characteristics of the people, war and there setting in the story. Gary Paulsen did a good job identifying Charley with his characteristics. in the middle of the wars he would put every detail about it. When they were walking places he would he would put every detail about where they are. There could be so much more of a story because he missed a lot of parts in the story. He could've put more to the battles and explained them better like it seemed like the wars were only 3 hours long but in real life they were all day from dawn to dusk. He could've put so much more details to the wars and the people. Yes the book was very good overall. There could be more to the book but great book. The reason I liked the book was because it was interested to me. I don't really like reading but I picked this book and I liked very much. The author made this book so interesting that it catches peoples attention very fast. I would recommend this book to kids that like learning about wars and don't like to read much because it will catch their attention very fast. I think you should read it because its a easy read. The other reasons is because when you read this it feels like you're in the war. I would recommend this book young men, boys, and maybe some girls. Many people I think will enjoy the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago