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Re: [civilwarwest] Responsibility

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  • L.A. Chambliss
    Dear Kristine and group, You might want to consult Tarnished Eagles: The Courts-Martial of Fifty Union Colonels and Lieutenant-Colonels by the wonderful Dr.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 28, 2000
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      Dear Kristine and group,

      You might want to consult "Tarnished Eagles: The Courts-Martial of Fifty Union Colonels and Lieutenant-Colonels" by the wonderful Dr. Thomas Lowry. This is all based on years of research in the National Archives and impeccably documented.

      If nothing else, the Introduction is invaluable: Lowry gives the History of Military Discipline going back to the Roman Empire! To quote Justinian, "Every disorder to the prejudice of common discipline, such as laziness, insolence or idleness, is a military offense." These guys were completely lacking in sense of humor over these matters: for rape
      the punishment was having your nose cut off, and for stealing a mule you would lose both hands.

      One reason Lowry concentrated his research on colonels was that generals were pretty much immune to such charges since they were not expected to know where every single man, or even regiment, was at any given time. Some of them managed to misplace entire corps, but that is beyond the topic of the question. :-)

      Actually the very first court-martial discussed has bearing on your question. A Col. William H. Allen of the 1st NY Volunteers was tried for six offenses which centered on the burning of a 25-acre field of wheat by men under his command. He was not present at the time, and also claimed that the wheat-burners were not acting under any direct orders to
      commit the act. The upshot was that he was convicted, the conviction was sustained all the way up to President Lincoln, and he was cashiered (thrown out of the army).

      This book concentrates on the FIRST 50 courts-martial conducted on colonels after the outbreak of the war. Lowry is continuing the research and intends to eventually document each and every one. Interestingly enough, far more colonels went through these trials than privates did.

      Hope this is of some help in your research; if nothing else, the book is a very entertaining read. Not as entertaining as Dr. Lowry's previous book "The Story the Soldiers Wouldn't Tell: Sex in the Civil War", but let's face it, for most of us sex is more interesting than judicial proceedings are. :)


      Kristine Statham wrote:

      > Here's a question for you guys. Does anyone know if officers during the CW were held accountable for the actions of the men under their command? They can in some instances today. I'm doing research on Sherman for a paper on whether his March to the Sea would comply with present day military standards vs CW standards. Help, suggestions, hints?
      > Respectfully yours
      > Kristine
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