Discussion "One Third of the Union Army Deserted"

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Desertion no Bar to Pension; No Distinction Between Good Soldiers and Bad; Not a Few of them Enlisted in the Service of the Confederacy

I was just wandering through my hard drive files and found this old thing. It's an article published by the New York Times on May 28, 1894. It's attached here for anyone interested. Cheers.
 

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Lubliner

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It appears to be a well-researched article concerning the laws during the war. I couldn't find a name with it's publication, and wonder how well the army records in the 1890's were gleaned to reflect the true status of 'honorable discharge' conversions after the war. It sounds like a major investigative report meant to tighten the congressional budget of funding appropriations. I would think if enough circulation was had it would have been looked into and not washed down the drain of some backroom toilet.
Lubliner.
 

John Hartwell

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We've discussed many times before the huge numbers of "deserted" reports of soldiers who were actually MIA, sick/wounded in hospital, POW, straggling, or just AWOL from furlough, and who returned to duty later. You see such cases with startling frequency when examining Federal service and pension records. Very often these reports were not corrected, and remained on the soldiers' record until they applied for pension long postwar. The applicant then had to find other documentation proving his legitimate service ... sometimes it took an Act of Congress to remove a false desertion charge. Looking at the raw data, without taking this into consideration could result in very skewed statistics. The article in question takes data from regular monthly reports, which did not reflect even those desertion charges which were later corrected.

The mid-to-late 1890s was also a period of expansion of the pension system, leading, eventually, to pensions being offered to all ACW veterans, regardless of disability or length of service. There was a great deal of opposition, in fact, to anything beyond pensions for the fully-disabled. Such an article was strong testimony for those who complained that the government was already doing too much for its old soldiers.
 
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John Winn

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State of Jefferson
We've discussed many times before the huge numbers of "deserted" reports of soldiers who were actually MIA, sick/wounded in hospital, POW, straggling, or just AWOL from furlough, and who returned to duty later. You see such cases with startling frequency when examining Federal service and pension records. Very often these reports were not corrected, and remained on the soldiers' record until they applied for pension long postwar. The applicant then had to find other documentation proving his legitimate service ... sometimes it took an Act of Congress to remove a false desertion charge. Looking at the raw data, without taking this into consideration could result in very skewed statistics. The article in question takes data from regular monthly reports, which did not reflect even those desertion charges which were later corrected.

The mid-to-late 1890s was also a period of expansion of the pension system, leading, eventually, to pensions being offered to all ACW veterans, regardless of disability or length of service. There was a great deal of opposition, in fact, to anything but pensions for any but the fully-disabled. Such an article was strong testimony for those who complained that the government was already doing too much for its old soldiers.
Yep. By the 1890s federal pensions were over 3/4 of the national budget and required building the then largest brick building in the world to house the agency that managed such. It was a huge political issue.

puck_pensions.jpg
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
We've discussed many times before the huge numbers of "deserted" reports of soldiers who were actually MIA, sick/wounded in hospital, POW, straggling, or just AWOL from furlough, and who returned to duty later. You see such cases with startling frequency when examining Federal service and pension records. Very often these reports were not corrected, and remained on the soldiers' record until they applied for pension long postwar. The applicant then had to find other documentation proving his legitimate service ... sometimes it took an Act of Congress to remove a false desertion charge. Looking at the raw data, without taking this into consideration could result in very skewed statistics. The article in question takes data from regular monthly reports, which did not reflect even those desertion charges which were later corrected.

The mid-to-late 1890s was also a period of expansion of the pension system, leading, eventually, to pensions being offered to all ACW veterans, regardless of disability or length of service. There was a great deal of opposition, in fact, to anything beyond pensions for the fully-disabled. Such an article was strong testimony for those who complained that the government was already doing too much for its old soldiers.

It would be interesting to know how many of the desertion records were "corrected." Orchestrating an Act of Congress was a huge effort then as now and makes me suspicious as to motivation. Was it really about the $18 a month, or clearing a politically connected person's name?

The controversy is understandable, given the drain on the Treasury. The South at least means tested soldiers' pensions, if not always evenly or fairly.
 

uaskme

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SE Tennessee
It would be interesting to know how many of the desertion records were "corrected." Orchestrating an Act of Congress was a huge effort then as now and makes me suspicious as to motivation. Was it really about the $18 a month, or clearing a politically connected person's name?

The controversy is understandable, given the drain on the Treasury. The South at least means tested soldiers' pensions, if not always evenly or fairly.
South ended up paying for Yankee Pensions. Part of their War Reparations. So, the joke was on them.

What better way for a Political Party to keep loyal Voters. Increase the Social Handouts. Edited.
 
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leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
Edited.
Too small a population with too large a territory to defend.
Excuses excuses. The Secessionists knew ahead of time they had a smaller population and forty percent of the Southern population hated their guts. Still if one third of the Union Army deserted there is no excuse why the Confedrate Army couldn't March their way to New York City.
Leftyhunter
 
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John Hartwell

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Central Massachusetts
It would be interesting to know how many of the desertion records were "corrected." Orchestrating an Act of Congress was a huge effort then as now and makes me suspicious as to motivation. Was it really about the $18 a month, or clearing a politically connected person's name?

The controversy is understandable, given the drain on the Treasury. The South at least means tested soldiers' pensions, if not always evenly or fairly.
Federal soldier pensions were at first given for disability alone. But, as veterans grew older, the qualifications were loosened. Partial disability, extreme poverty, etc became grounds. Eventually, honorable service and old age alone became the deciding factors, turning the system into sort of a forerunner of Social Security. The veterans organized (GAR etc) and pushed hard for universal pensions -- and the veteran vote was, indeed, actively courted.

As late as 1894, the Report of the Chief of the Records and Pension Office reported 3,731 applications, under those Acts, for removal of desertion charges in that year alone. What percentage of such applications was successful, I do not know. Most were corrected through examination of the carded records. That 1894 report, stated that since the program began, a total of 41,127,149 cards containing information extracted from the original rolls, etc, had been assembled, of which over 6,027,000 had been added just in that year. The records clearing a desertion charge from one soldier, might be among the 5 or 6 million cards to be completed next year or the year after, or 5 years down the road. Until that time, his application would be denied ... unless he could provide proof himself, or know someone with influence who could get an Act passed.

The principal Congressional Acts for general removal of desertion charges can be found HERE. There were also a good many private, individual Acts for relief. These are found in the Congressional Record and other congressional documents, sometimes with extensive discussion, testimony, affidavits etc. Two simple examples from 1890:
1616890019946.png
1616890170089.png
from: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/GPO-CRECB-1890-pt5-v21/pdf/GPO-CRECB-1890-pt5-v21-3.pdf (p.4163, where one can read those 'annexed' doxuments regarding the David Barnhart case)

An excellent article on "America's First Social Security System: The Expansion of Benefits for Civil War Veterans" from Political Science Quarterly, can be downloaded at JSTOR.
 

uaskme

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SE Tennessee
So what was the maj

So what was the Confedrate Armies major malfunction that they didn't

Excuses excuses. The Secessionists knew ahead of time they had a smaller population and forty percent of the Southern population hated their guts. Still if one third of the Union Army deserted there is no excuse why the Confedrate Army couldn't March their way to New York City.
Leftyhunter

Quite a bit actually. If one third of the Union Army actually deserted the Confedracy could of marched all the way to Maine and enjoy a lobster dinner.
Leftyhunter
If it was such a Moral War as you and others portray, why was the desertion rate close to what the Confederacy was? We know what caused Confederate desertion. From 63 forward the War was an abolitionist war. Why didn’t the Yankee fight and why did replacements cost so much.

However the price of service escalated. Scant few of draftees served. MA was paying bounties of 1k. Grant’s butcher Bill at Cold Harbor and the campaign of 64 depleted his Army. People were shocked at his causalities. Grant ran out of Troops. Enlistment stalled. Negroes were Forced to enlist. So gosh, what could it of been That caused such a high desertion rate? Seems the majority didn’t have their hearts in it. Even paying exorbitant prices for service was failing to work.
 

Scott1967

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England
If it was such a Moral War as you and others portray, why was the desertion rate close to what the Confederacy was? We know what caused Confederate desertion. From 63 forward the War was an abolitionist war. Why didn’t the Yankee fight and why did replacements cost so much.

However the price of service escalated. Scant few of draftees served. MA was paying bounties of 1k. Grant’s butcher Bill at Cold Harbor and the campaign of 64 depleted his Army. People were shocked at his causalities. Grant ran out of Troops. Enlistment stalled. Negroes were Forced to enlist. So gosh, what could it of been That caused such a high desertion rate? Seems the majority didn’t have their hearts in it. Even paying exorbitant prices for service was failing to work.
it wasn't a moral war and never was the very small minority of soldiers believing they were doing gods work in freeing the slaves was minuscule compared to those defending their homes or fighting to preserve their country.

I would imagine the real truth with Union desertions was more straightforward than people think it was just to easy to desert on the Union side unlike the South their were plenty of places to go as a union deserter to escape justice unlike the Southern soldier who really didn't have many options but go home.

And unlike Union desertion i think Southern boys got fed up with no pay and after 1863 fighting a slave owners war for the first time they started to see through the whole sham and to add to that many heartlands had fell to the Union so many CSA soldiers needed to get home and look in on their family.
 

leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
Edited.
If it was such a Moral War as you and others portray, why was the desertion rate close to what the Confederacy was? We know what caused Confederate desertion. From 63 forward the War was an abolitionist war. Why didn’t the Yankee fight and why did replacements cost so much.

However the price of service escalated. Scant few of draftees served. MA was paying bounties of 1k. Grant’s butcher Bill at Cold Harbor and the campaign of 64 depleted his Army. People were shocked at his causalities. Grant ran out of Troops. Enlistment stalled. Negroes were Forced to enlist. So gosh, what could it of been That caused such a high desertion rate? Seems the majority didn’t have their hearts in it. Even paying exorbitant prices for service was failing to work.
Anyone who fights to free others from slavery can't be all bad. Getting back to the OP if one third of the Union Army deserted the Confedrate Army should of easily been able to win the war .
Leftyhunter
 
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uaskme

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Location
SE Tennessee
Edited.

Anyone who fights to free others from slavery can't be all bad. Getting back to the OP if one third of the Union Army deserted the Confedrate Army should of easily been able to win the war .
Leftyhunter
Unfortunately the Federals could borrow money and pay poor unfortunates to fight in the place of the middle and upper classes. immigration was expanded in 63 and 64. The EP allowed Negro Troops, which added to the Unfortunate lists. A smaller percentage of Northern White males were engaged as soldiers than in the Confederacy. Most of these landless Northern Unfortunates enlisted for the money. So, they weren’t that Dedicated. All of this explains the Federal desertion rate. Another part of it was by 64 life fighting for Grant was reduced to months. So even the short timers refused to enlist. Others sought safety elsewhere, deserted. Some deserted, changed their name and re-enlisted for more bounty.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Unfortunately the Federals could borrow money and pay poor unfortunates to fight in the place of the middle and upper classes. immigration was expanded in 63 and 64. The EP allowed Negro Troops, which added to the Unfortunate lists. A smaller percentage of Northern White males were engaged as soldiers than in the Confederacy. Most of these landless Northern Unfortunates enlisted for the money. So, they weren’t that Dedicated. All of this explains the Federal desertion rate. Another part of it was by 64 life fighting for Grant was reduced to months. So even the short timers refused to enlist. Others sought safety elsewhere, deserted. Some deserted, changed their name and re-enlisted for more bounty.
Since the Union Army was so bad then the Confedrate Army should of had no problem marching all the way to Bankor,Maine and having lobster dinner with pretty Maine girls sitting in their laps.After all Union troops were all money grubbing cowards.
The Confedracy could of eliminated slavery and Miscegenation Laws and opened up the ranks to people of all colors plus give them the right to vote then the Confedracy could of taken over the whole of the US.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Unfortunately the Federals could borrow money and pay poor unfortunates to fight in the place of the middle and upper classes. immigration was expanded in 63 and 64. The EP allowed Negro Troops, which added to the Unfortunate lists. A smaller percentage of Northern White males were engaged as soldiers than in the Confederacy. Most of these landless Northern Unfortunates enlisted for the money. So, they weren’t that Dedicated. All of this explains the Federal desertion rate. Another part of it was by 64 life fighting for Grant was reduced to months. So even the short timers refused to enlist. Others sought safety elsewhere, deserted. Some deserted, changed their name and re-enlisted for more bounty.
Since the Union Army was so bad then the Confedrate Army should of had no problem marching all the way to Bankor,Maine and having lobster dinner with pretty Maine girls sitting in their laps.After all Union troops were all money grubbing cowards.
The Confedracy could of eliminated slavery and Miscegenation Laws and opened up the ranks to people of all colors plus give them the right to vote then the Confedracy could of taken over the whole
They didn't want Maine. They wanted a divorce from the north. Still seems like a good idea to some.
Not true the Confedrate Army tried to size the South West but mostly Mexican American troops proved more the Confedrate Army could handle at the battle of Glorieta Pass.
Leftyhunter
 
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