Discussion Being Shot/Hanged for Leaving Your Post

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Tom Hughes

Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
I was recently reading reproduced diary entries from Confederate soldiers in the Vicksburg campaign telling about friends or comrades that tried to slip out of the city during the siege, were caught and executed for treason.
I realize this seems kind of harsh but maybe that's just the way things were back then.
One of the soldiers was trying to get back to a sick relative, others I think were just tired of the fight and ready to go home.
Was this just the way it was in Vicksburg because of the dire situation there or did this occur with frequency at other sites in the war?
Any insights into this from the forum?
 

archieclement

Captain
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
I was recently reading reproduced diary entries from Confederate soldiers in the Vicksburg campaign telling about friends or comrades that tried to slip out of the city during the siege, were caught and executed for treason.
I realize this seems kind of harsh but maybe that's just the way things were back then.
One of the soldiers was trying to get back to a sick relative, others I think were just tired of the fight and ready to go home.
Was this just the way it was in Vicksburg because of the dire situation there or did this occur with frequency at other sites in the war?
Any insights into this from the forum?
according to this 500 from both sides.


And both the CSA articles of war and numerous general orders proscribed death for desertion, though other punishments were generally followed instead of death, such as the ever popular branding people............
 
Last edited:

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Within the past year there was a thread on Lincoln's decision to commute a sentence of hanging on a young soldier for his act of desertion. It seems the youth's family petitioned the President. Did Jefferson Davis also have the power to pardon soldiers that carried a death sentence, or was the law of the Confederate Congress in his way?
Lubliner.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Championhilz

First Sergeant
Joined
Mar 18, 2011
Location
Clinton, Mississippi
Washington Roberts, a private in Company A, 21st Mississippi Infantry, was executed for desertion on February 5, 1864, while the regiment was serving in east Tennessee. Roberts had an impeccable service record before deserting, and his brigade commander, General Benjamin Humphreys, asked General Longstreet to spare the soldier. Longstreet denied the request, stating through his adjutant, Thomas Walton, that the general "considers the necessities of the service to be such as to forbid the grant of this indulgence to this unhappy man. The evil which of all others threatens at this time most formidably to disturb and injure the army is desertion for the purpose of reenlistment elsewhere. Many men who do not wish to escape from the duty they owe their country, still excuse themselves in their own eyes for abandoning their posts by setting up int their own justification this dangerous plea, that they will enlist at another place...It therefore becomes necessary to let this man serve as a warning to those who are disposed to become his companion in guilt, of this fate they must expect."
 

bdtex

Brigadier General
Moderator
Silver Patron
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Regtl. Quartermaster Chickamauga 2018 Vicksburg 2019
Joined
Jul 21, 2015
Location
Houston,TX area
Was this just the way it was in Vicksburg because of the dire situation there or did this occur with frequency at other sites in the war?
Any insights into this from the forum?
From what I have read,it happened more frequently than I thought going into this phase of my life as a Civil War historian. I recall some material about at least one execution for such in Sam Watkins' Company Aytch.
 

Taureau

Cadet
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
I was recently reading reproduced diary entries from Confederate soldiers in the Vicksburg campaign telling about friends or comrades that tried to slip out of the city during the siege, were caught and executed for treason.
I realize this seems kind of harsh but maybe that's just the way things were back then.
One of the soldiers was trying to get back to a sick relative, others I think were just tired of the fight and ready to go home.
Was this just the way it was in Vicksburg because of the dire situation there or did this occur with frequency at other sites in the war?
Any insights into this from the forum?
A lot of folks went AWOL or deserted, especially at the Battle of Wilderness. According to one recent book "The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester, soldiers were walking away left and right and from both sides. One unfortunate Irishman serving with the Union troops was apprehended. A kangaroo court was held and of course he was found guilty as charged. His punishment for desertion was branded with a two inch letter D for deserter on his cheek. The man was naturally scared and screamed and cried as his blood boiled and poured from the sides of the iron. The person wielding the iron was a bobtailed Lieutenant, a surgeon no less. He was hand picked since he was the new guy. The branding affected the surgeon and actually was the cause of his insanity. A great book by the way.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Toward the end of the war, when things were getting pretty grim, Forrest executed two Kentuckians for desertion. Usually he preferred to scare the wits out of the guilty - like line them up before a firing squad and intervene just before the word 'fire' was yelled. However, the two Kentuckians were caught and claimed to have papers at their home allowing them leave, they weren't deserters. But they were executed. Later it was found they really did have permission to take a brief leave. (Even sadder, it was father and son.)
 

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I was recently reading reproduced diary entries from Confederate soldiers in the Vicksburg campaign telling about friends or comrades that tried to slip out of the city during the siege, were caught and executed for treason.
I realize this seems kind of harsh but maybe that's just the way things were back then.
One of the soldiers was trying to get back to a sick relative, others I think were just tired of the fight and ready to go home.
Was this just the way it was in Vicksburg because of the dire situation there or did this occur with frequency at other sites in the war?
Any insights into this from the forum?
I was flipping through back issues of Civil War Times magazine and came across June 2005, Vol. XLIV No. 7. On the front cover;
"Stonewall The Executioner: Deadly Discipline in the Shenandoah Valley; in the Footsteps of Stonewall's Valley Campaign."
Calling cases 'French Leave', the article speaks of two men used as an example in the summer of 1862. This was right after the Peninsula Campaign, and the desertions were occurring on the return march toward Gordonsville. Good article, by the way.
Lubliner.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

reading48

Captain
Joined
Apr 27, 2011
Location
N.E. Pa. 100 miles N. of gettysburg
For what it's worth....in boot camp...I believe it was the 10 general orders that were punishable with Captains Mast or Court Marshal and one of them was not to leave your Post until properly relieved. The punishment decided by the Courts....... At least thats what I remember...but that was 60 yrs ago....Sleeping on duty was also included...
 

Waterloo50

Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Location
Blighty.
I was recently reading reproduced diary entries from Confederate soldiers in the Vicksburg campaign telling about friends or comrades that tried to slip out of the city during the siege, were caught and executed for treason.
I realize this seems kind of harsh but maybe that's just the way things were back then.
One of the soldiers was trying to get back to a sick relative, others I think were just tired of the fight and ready to go home.
Was this just the way it was in Vicksburg because of the dire situation there or did this occur with frequency at other sites in the war?
Any insights into this from the forum?
Well, George E Pickett certainly had no qualms about hanging deserters, he had no problem with the rope, especially if confederate deserters were found to be wearing the wrong coloured uniform. I think I’m right in saying the for a short while Lee encouraged it.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
I was recently reading reproduced diary entries from Confederate soldiers in the Vicksburg campaign telling about friends or comrades that tried to slip out of the city during the siege, were caught and executed for treason.
I realize this seems kind of harsh but maybe that's just the way things were back then.
One of the soldiers was trying to get back to a sick relative, others I think were just tired of the fight and ready to go home.
Was this just the way it was in Vicksburg because of the dire situation there or did this occur with frequency at other sites in the war?
Any insights into this from the forum?
Really? Had not heard of this. Can you provide some detail, such as # of soldiers executed, names of condemned, etc?

I've seen many many reports of army executions in Army of Tennesse under Bragg, although documentation of these tends to be thin.
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Within the past year there was a thread on Lincoln's decision to commute a sentence of hanging on a young soldier for his act of desertion. It seems the youth's family petitioned the President. Did Jefferson Davis also have the power to pardon soldiers that carried a death sentence, or was the law of the Confederate Congress in his way?
Lubliner.
Both Lincoln and Davis were pretty free in using their pardon/commutation powers to stop military executions of enlisted men accused of desertion. I haven't seen anywhere where these acts of mercy were counted up and compared, and would love to see an essay like that.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

TomP

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Location
Corinth, MS
Pvt. Alexander Johnson of the 1st Alabama Cavalry (US) deserted his post near Corinth, MS on June 19 1863. Soon after he was captured in the uniform of a Confederate soldier while on a scout near his old camp. A court martial was convened and pronounced him guilty of desertion to the enemy. On July 23 the officers and men of the Corinth garrison gathered at the parade grounds to witness his execution.

Execution.jpg


Execution2.jpg
 

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
I was recently reading reproduced diary entries from Confederate soldiers in the Vicksburg campaign telling about friends or comrades that tried to slip out of the city during the siege, were caught and executed for treason.
I realize this seems kind of harsh but maybe that's just the way things were back then.
One of the soldiers was trying to get back to a sick relative, others I think were just tired of the fight and ready to go home.
Was this just the way it was in Vicksburg because of the dire situation there or did this occur with frequency at other sites in the war?
Any insights into this from the forum?
I do think this is basically what happened with the two men Forrest executed. He had less than the cream of the crop with him at the time, people who had literally been dragged out of the woods to be drafted, and throwing a scare wasn't enough. Unfortunately, the wrong ones were hung but the point was driven home to everybody that there were fatal consequences now if not before.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top