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 Posted: Thu Dec 14th, 2006 03:08 pm
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burnsideshot
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Sure, we have all seen in the movies how Stonewall Jackson and others up and rounded up his posse, opening fire on deserters basically.  I'm wondering if in actuality punishment was that severe.  If so, was it on both sides?  What was the typical penalty if you snuck off into a cornfield say and fled through the woods towards home in the thick of the fight?  I'm not saying it would be honorable, but my grandmothers friend had a grandfather or great grandfather that did that and was never caught (Union).



 Posted: Thu Dec 14th, 2006 03:36 pm
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ole
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The official punishment for deserting during a battle was death. (If caught) Much depended on the commander and even the most lenient would occasionally shoot or hang a deserter to make an example.

Deserting was common -- a self-granted furlough, if you will -- and many returned. Commanders came around to living with that fact and often welcomed the deserter back. But some were still shot.

Ole



 Posted: Thu Dec 14th, 2006 05:27 pm
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calcav
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Burnside,

I have studied the 2nd Massachusetts at great length. During the war the 2nd Cav experienced the highest desertion rate of all regiments raised in Massachusetts. Most were bounty jumpers who collected thier money and disappeared. Some made it to camp and then deserted. Several were caught and returned to the regiment where some served out thier time honorably, several deserted again, and some were discharged  or imprisoned. In February of 1864 a man named William Ormsby deserted taking his horse and equipment with him. A week later he was captured while serving as a guide for a detachment of Mosby's Rangers. The commanding officer of the regiment Col. Charles R. Lowell convened a drumhead court martial to try Ormsby. This was an unusual call as the drumhead was to be used when a commanding officer was out of touch with his superiors. The 2nd was in Vienna, Virginia just outside of the Capital and Lowell was in daily contact with his chain of command. Ormsby was found guilty and executed by members of his regiment. An intresting note was that there was not a peep out of Washington concerning the matter and the young Colonel taking matters into his own hands. President Lincoln was in the habit of handing out pardons but did not get the chance here. The lack of official notice from his corps commander and the Secretary of War speaks volumes.

Tom



 Posted: Fri Dec 15th, 2006 10:58 am
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mike
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calcav.  When Lee invaded Maryland the first time he lost many soldiers to straggling and to the fact that some soldiers thought it wrong to invade the north.  On the march from Chantilly to Leesburg many men just went home.  But after Sharpsburg the rejoined the army such that about a month after the battle Lee counted over 65k soldiers in the nva where he only took about 50k into Maryland.  So this show to me the unwillingness of command to carry out corporal punishment on the Southern side.  Could have been that they realized the South had a manpower shortage. 



 Posted: Wed Jan 3rd, 2007 09:24 pm
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Hellcat
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According to Article 23 of the 1863 Articles of War:
Act. 23. Any officer or soldier who shall be convicted of having advised or persuaded any other officer or soldier to desert the service of the United States, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be inflicted upon him by the sentence of a court-martial.

Now what I really like is that it's not the person who's deserted, but rather the person who encouraged them to do so. Desertion for the person actually doing so, however, was covered under a previous article.

 
Act. 20. All officers and soldiers who have recieved pay, or have been duly enlisted in the service of the United States, and shall be convicted of having deserted the same, shall suffer death, or such punishment as, by sentence of a court-martial, shall be inflicted.** No officer or soldier in the army of the United States shall be subject to punishment of death, for desertion in time of peace. -- Act-29th May, 1830
Now the question of just how many actually were put to death for desertion is up for question, especially when you look at the fact that both articles say death or some other punishment inflicted by the court-martial hearing. A different punishment for desertion would to literaly be branded a deserter. In otherwords, a red hot iron with the letter D on it would be placed against the deserter's cheek, forehead, or hip to forever mark their crime. Better than death, but only because you'd be alive afterwards. Course it would sure hurt to all ******* and would be better on the hip cause then you could at least cover it up with your clothes.

 

 



 Posted: Thu Jan 4th, 2007 02:34 pm
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Homeschool_Teen_01
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Burnsideshot,

First of all, the movie Gods and Generals is very accurate according to what I have learned.  Men who deserted were often executed by firing squad.  Now in some cases they were marched out of the camp in front of all their comrades.  This was sometimes considered worse than death because those men were now humiliated where ever they went.  Back then, being called a coward was a big time deal!

Now if you were in a battle, and you fled all by yourself into the woods, you may not receive the sentence of being a deserter, but you would be made fun of by your comrades if they had stayed and fought on.  I believe it was only in certain instances that men were considered deserters, say if your found at a general store in the next town with civilian clothes on...

Many who left the camp without permission and were found nearby were often subject to humiliating punishments that were meant not to kill you, but to make you think twice about trying to leave the camp for some fresh air without permission.

Now I may be wrong about some of these things, I'm trying to recall them from memory. 

If you want more information on the life of civil war soldiers try to find at your local library a book called: Hard Tack and Coffee: A Soldier's life in the civil war
 I believe that is the correct name... :?

CJ



 Posted: Fri Jan 5th, 2007 02:40 pm
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Harry
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Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas 68nm from Fort Taylor, Fla., was one of many military facilities that housed deserters. Escape from that fort was next to impossible. That said, there was a case of slaves who had managed to take a boat and flee. They were later captured by a "wrecker," who attempted to be compensated for the "cargo." The wrecker was not successful in gaining compensation, and the slaves were sent back to Fort Jefferson.

 

 



 Posted: Fri Jan 5th, 2007 03:38 pm
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ole
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Harry wrote: Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas 68nm from Fort Taylor, Fla., was one of many military facilities that housed deserters. Escape from that fort was next to impossible. That said, there was a case of slaves who had managed to take a boat and flee. They were later captured by a "wrecker," who attempted to be compensated for the "cargo." The wrecker was not successful in gaining compensation, and the slaves were sent back to Fort Jefferson.


Question, Harry, if you would. Fort Jefferson housed deserters and assorted military bad actors. How then does it fit that slaves escaped, were captured and sent back? Were slaves confined there as well? Why? 'Preciate it.

Ole

Last edited on Fri Jan 5th, 2007 03:38 pm by ole



 Posted: Sat Jan 6th, 2007 03:51 pm
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Harry
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Gotta check my research, but what I recall reading was this incident occured just before the outbreak of hostilities. In fact, there was an incident in Key West in 1859-60 where a slave ship was brought into port. The town marshal wanted the slaves to be housed at Fort Taylor, which was still under construction. The engineer in charge, Capt. E.B. Hunt, told the marshal that would not happen. The slaves were off-loaded on the pier by the fort and transported to the Atlantic side of the island where a facility was built. Many perished from Yellow Fever and Typhoid and were buried near the beach. A few years ago, the cemetary was discovered and is now preserved.



 Posted: Sat Jan 6th, 2007 07:57 pm
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ole
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Thanks everso, Harry:

Now it makes sense. You were not saying the slaves were imprisoned there during the war, which is the conclusion to which I immediately jumped.

Ole



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