Soldier's Heart
Author: Gary Paulsen
Ages: 6-12
Topics: American Civil War, United States History, 1861-1865, post-traumatic stress disorder
Genre: Historical Fiction

This is the story of Charley's enlistment and Civil War experiences. Charley Goddard was eager to enlist in the first Minnesota volunteers even though he was only fifteen-years-old. He left his farm to enlist because he didn't want to miss out on a great adventure. He found out that war was full of terrible physical and mental horrors. He was lucky to survive. Charley entered the war a boy and came home a man with a "solder's heart". The book was based on the life of a real boy.

Beyond the Book
Use the Internet Connections below to find resources needed to complete the following activities:
  • Find Winona, Minnesota on a map. Make a timeline of the Civil War including the places where Charley served
  • Make a map showing where Charley served. Include his first military engagement at Manassas until he is finally wounded at Gettysburg.
Map of Battles
Rare Map Collection
List of Battles
  • Compare what you know about Charley's experience with this camp life website. Write a fictional story about a day at the camp.
Camp life at Gettsburg
  • Learn more about the two communities in the war North & South.
Communities in the war
  • What were your chances if you got wounded in the war? Learn about the medicine of the war. Compare it to medicine today.
Learn about Medicine in the Civil War
  • What is Post-traumatic stress disorder? After reading about PTSD, discuss Charley's war experience that made him think of suicide as a solution to torment.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Internet Connections
Explore these other websites as you explore the book and the American Civil War.


Letters Home from an Iowa soldier
Civil War Index Page
American Civil War Home Page
Teacher Guide
Author and Book Connections
Paulsen is the author of more than 100 books. Explore information about the author of the book:


Official Paulsen Web Site
Paulsen Pages
Read other books by the same author:
  • Brian's Winter
  • Call Me Frances Tucket
  • Danger On Midnight River
  • Escape From Fire Mountain
  • The Rifle
  • Dogteam
  • Nightjohn
  • Haymeadow
  • The River
  • Canyons
  • The Winter Room
  • The Crossing
  • Hatchet
  • Dogsong
  • Tracker
  • Mr. Tuckett
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Created by
Annette Lamb, 9/99.