Billy Boy
Billy Boy: The Sunday Soldier of the 17th Maine
Billy Boy
Jean Flahive
When twenty-year-old Billy Laird of Berwick excitedly enlists in the Union Army with his hometown pals, he has no idea what lies ahead for him. Mentally challenged, he is ill prepared for the training and fighting, but he gets by with the help of his friends. Soon, however, he is sent to a different unit without them. Lonely and unsure of what to do without his friends, Billy runs off and meets up with a runaway slave, Elijah. Together, and with the help of the Underground Railroad, the two make their way north to their fates. This young adult novel-inspired by a real person, Billy Laird, and an actual event-is a tale of friendship, loyalty, and compassion and will enthrall readers of all ages. It was painstakingly researched by Flahive and provides a wealth of information about the role that Mainers played in the Civil War.

Book Details


  • Fiction
  • Historical Fiction

Age Level: 

  • 12 and up
Profile Picture

Billy Boy takes place during the Civil War. Billy Laird is a simpleton. His pa says, "His mind just don't work the way most folks' do." The book starts with President Lincoln receiving several letters from friends and family of Billy,asking for a pardon which Lincoln decides to give. Billy's story begins a while back, however. He and his friends live in Brunswick, Maine, when the recruiting officer arrives. Since all his friends sign up, so does Billy, not wanting to be left behind. Billy's parents fight his going, but since he is old enough, nothing can be done.

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