Discussion Were the Bushwhackers Criminals ? (Poll)

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Were the Bushwhackers criminals ?

  • Yes

    Votes: 16 45.7%
  • No

    Votes: 9 25.7%
  • Don’t Know

    Votes: 10 28.6%

  • Total voters
    35

archieclement

Captain
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
Were the Bushwhackers criminals ?
Many of the UnionIst bushwhacker's were made up of deserters and draft dodgers to begin with, would assume they would meet a criminal defination.

Bushwhackers unlike most civil war guerrillas really weren't officially in the service of either side, they are probably rarer then guerrilla irregulars, but did exist in some numbers, again generally deserters or criminal dissenters. Newt Knight would be a classic example, confederate deserter but never recognised as in US service at all. John Brown would also met a bushwhacker defination as he was in the service of no one as well, as their was no other official belligerent side pre war, prewar border ruffians would also have been in some cases, but not all. Missourians would answer calls by US Marshalls for assistance. in such cases they would be in US service and not "on their own hook"

Bushwhackers owed allegiance to no one.

It may be confusing to those not all that versed in the border war......jayhawker, border ruffian, partisan ranger, bushwhacker, guerrilla, irregulars ect.....but the reason for so many terms is most carry subtle distinctions not making them synonymous
 
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Mark Roth

Corporal
Joined
Aug 15, 2016
Location
Whereve I Am
I voted "Don't Know" because I am not sure I can assign a single definition to them. Many, if not all, would probably meet the modern definition of "illegal combatant," but that is often a political distinction.

The best answer is probably that some were criminal, some took extreme action to defend themselves against criminals, and some were just trying to help their cause.
 

Don Dixon

Corporal
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
Attached is the appropriate section of the Lieber Code, which the Federal Army issued as G.O. 101. It served as a first draft for portions of the subsequent Geneva Conventions on the law of land warfare. I believe that it answers the question from a contemporary legal standpoint:

SECTION IV
Partisans - Armed enemies not belonging to the hostile army - Scouts - Armed prowlers - War-rebels
Art. 81.
Partisans are soldiers armed and wearing the uniform of their army, but belonging to a corps which acts detached from the main body for the purpose of making inroads into the territory occupied by the enemy. If captured, they are entitled to all the privileges of the prisoner of war.

Art. 82.
Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers - such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.

Art. 83.
Scouts, or single soldiers, if disguised in the dress of the country or in the uniform of the army hostile to their own, employed in obtaining information, if found within or lurking about the lines of the captor, are treated as spies, and suffer death.

Art. 84.
Armed prowlers, by whatever names they may be called, or persons of the enemy's territory, who steal within the lines of the hostile army for the purpose of robbing, killing, or of destroying bridges, roads or canals, or of robbing or destroying the mail, or of cutting the telegraph wires, are not entitled to the privileges of the prisoner of war.

Art. 85.
War-rebels are persons within an occupied territory who rise in arms against the occupying or conquering army, or against the authorities established by the same. If captured, they may suffer death, whether they rise singly, in small or large bands, and whether called upon to do so by their own, but expelled, government or not. They are not prisoners of war; nor are they if discovered and secured before their conspiracy has matured to an actual rising or armed violence.

Regards,
Ddon Dixon
 
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archieclement

Captain
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
Attached is the appropriate section of the Lieber Code, which the Federal Army issued as G.O. 101. It served as a first draft of the subsequent 1864 Geneva Convention on the law of land warfare. I believe that it answers the question from a contemporary legal stand point:

SECTION IV
Partisans - Armed enemies not belonging to the hostile army - Scouts - Armed prowlers - War-rebels
Art. 81.
Partisans are soldiers armed and wearing the uniform of their army, but belonging to a corps which acts detached from the main body for the purpose of making inroads into the territory occupied by the enemy. If captured, they are entitled to all the privileges of the prisoner of war.

Art. 82.
Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers - such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.

Art. 83.
Scouts, or single soldiers, if disguised in the dress of the country or in the uniform of the army hostile to their own, employed in obtaining information, if found within or lurking about the lines of the captor, are treated as spies, and suffer death.

Art. 84.
Armed prowlers, by whatever names they may be called, or persons of the enemy's territory, who steal within the lines of the hostile army for the purpose of robbing, killing, or of destroying bridges, roads or canals, or of robbing or destroying the mail, or of cutting the telegraph wires, are not entitled to the privileges of the prisoner of war.

Art. 85.
War-rebels are persons within an occupied territory who rise in arms against the occupying or conquering army, or against the authorities established by the same. If captured, they may suffer death, whether they rise singly, in small or large bands, and whether called upon to do so by their own, but expelled, government or not. They are not prisoners of war; nor are they if discovered and secured before their conspiracy has matured to an actual rising or armed violence.

Regards,
Ddon Dixon
Yet the US didn't follow the code and violated its provisions itself :bounce: Using un-uniformed forces behind lines such as Andrews raiders, Missouri militia would dress as confederate forces as well to deceive people as well as some other irregulars such as Terrill

Also the Lieber code would have been of questionable standing as law, as according to the US constitution the power to "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces" is expressly Congress's.......the Leiber code was issued as a "guideline" in the form of a general order, not Congress who had the actual authority to set legal regulations

Its somewhat an oddity as a general order, as it was never part of the actual uniform code of military justice, as the actual laws come from Congress

It was requested by General Halleck and not surprisingly provided cover for his executions and imprisonment of civilians here, which is what he wanted when he requested it.
 
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Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Many of the UnionIst bushwhacker's were made up of deserters and draft dodgers to begin with, would assume they would meet a criminal defination.

Bushwhackers unlike guerrillas really weren't officially in the service of either side, they are probably rarer then guerrilla irregulars, but did exist in some numbers, again generally deserters or criminal dissenters. Newt Knight would be a classic example, confederate deserter but never recognised as in US service at all. John Brown would also met a bushwhacker defination as he was in the service of no one as well, as their was no other official belligerent side pre war, prewar border ruffians would also have been in some cases, but not all

Bushwhackers owed allegiance to no one.

It may be confusing to those not all that versed in the border war......jayhawker, border ruffian, partisan ranger, bushwhacker, guerrilla, irregulars ect.....but the reason for so many terms is most carry subtle distinctions not making them synonymous
Archie's statement is quite true and accurate. I made my previous statement assuming that @gem was using the term "bushwhackers" interchangeably with "guerrillas." One should never assume, but I admit I do it sometimes. Thanks for your clarification, Archie.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Attached is the appropriate section of the Lieber Code, which the Federal Army issued as G.O. 101. It served as a first draft for portions of the subsequent Geneva Conventions on the law of land warfare. I believe that it answers the question from a contemporary legal standpoint:

SECTION IV
Partisans - Armed enemies not belonging to the hostile army - Scouts - Armed prowlers - War-rebels
Art. 81.
Partisans are soldiers armed and wearing the uniform of their army, but belonging to a corps which acts detached from the main body for the purpose of making inroads into the territory occupied by the enemy. If captured, they are entitled to all the privileges of the prisoner of war.

Art. 82.
Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers - such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.

Art. 83.
Scouts, or single soldiers, if disguised in the dress of the country or in the uniform of the army hostile to their own, employed in obtaining information, if found within or lurking about the lines of the captor, are treated as spies, and suffer death.

Art. 84.
Armed prowlers, by whatever names they may be called, or persons of the enemy's territory, who steal within the lines of the hostile army for the purpose of robbing, killing, or of destroying bridges, roads or canals, or of robbing or destroying the mail, or of cutting the telegraph wires, are not entitled to the privileges of the prisoner of war.

Art. 85.
War-rebels are persons within an occupied territory who rise in arms against the occupying or conquering army, or against the authorities established by the same. If captured, they may suffer death, whether they rise singly, in small or large bands, and whether called upon to do so by their own, but expelled, government or not. They are not prisoners of war; nor are they if discovered and secured before their conspiracy has matured to an actual rising or armed violence.

Regards,
Ddon Dixon
@Waterloo50 ,
I think you will find this post most informative.
Leftyhunter
 
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Don Dixon

Corporal
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
Yet the US didn't follow the code and violated its provisions itself :bounce: Using un-uniformed forces behind lines such as Andrews raiders, Missouri militia would dress as confederate forces as well to deceive people as well as some other irregulars such as Terrill.
See Article 83 of the Lieber Code. Some of the Andrews raiders were hanged, and the Federal Army had no cause for complaint. Anyone who went out in the other guy's uniforms - then or now - knew what would happen to them if they were caught.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 
Joined
May 1, 2015
Location
Upstate N.Y.
The reference to Andrews men should not be considered bushwackers. Their job was to destroy property and disrupt transportation to slow enemy movement of men and supplies, but not to kill indiscriminately. They were not in uniform so could be considered spies, but by no stretch bushwackers. Would one consider the Confederates that robbed the bank at St. Albans, Vt. bushwacker? Of course not.
 
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archieclement

Captain
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
The reference to Andrews men should not be considered bushwackers. Their job was to destroy property and disrupt transportation to slow enemy movement of men and supplies, but not to kill indiscriminately. They were not in uniform so could be considered spies, but by no stretch bushwackers. Would one consider the Confederates that robbed the bank at St. Albans, Vt. bushwacker? Of course not.
I didn't refer to Andrews raiders technically as bushwhackers, I refered to Andrews raiders as the Union not following the Lieber Code itself...........many cases of looting and pillaging by jayhawkers and Shermans Bummers would also have been violations of the Lieber code, however theres a noticeable lack of prosecutions compared to how widespread it was......Any Law/code whatever isn't much an actual law/code if isn't enforced equally IMO

Same with martial law, if its enforced on a partisan basis, one shouldn't be surprised when resistance occurs.
 
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Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Their job was to destroy property and disrupt transportation to slow enemy movement of men and supplies, but not to kill indiscriminately.
Well, this seems a very loaded statement to me, because it infers that a bushwhacker's mission WAS to kill indiscriminately. I don't think that's the case, although there's no doubt some of them did kill indiscriminately. Bill Anderson and Harry Termain come immediately to mind. ...and again, when I reference Anderson, I am equating "bushwhacker" with "guerrilla." I have suspected for a long time (and stated here previously) that Anderson was probably responsible for most of the excesses at Lawrence, but no one can really prove who did what there. Termain is a little known figure who sometimes went by the alias of Harry Truman (don't worry, it was years before the president was born.) He persuaded the army that he could find and kill all the pro-southern bushwhackers and guerrillas in central Missouri. Then he went on a spree of shooting and hanging--killing so many civilians that he had to be rounded up.
 
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ErnieMac

Brigadier General
Moderator
Forum Host
Joined
May 3, 2013
Location
Pennsylvania
I voted don't know because I agree with the concept of the 4th category suggested by @Patrick H. I have no doubt the Mosby's and McNeill's bands were considered bushwackers and criminals by their Federal army opponents even though they conducted themselves as soldiers. Others, as noted above definitely fell into the criminal category.
 

jackt62

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
I voted yes, but that would also apply to northern "Jayhawkers" as well as southern "Bushwackers." Prior to the outbreak of Civil War and during the war itself, both these entities, either individually or in groups, carried out various actions that would be considered crimes or in modern day terms, "terrorism."
 
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ariete

Private
Joined
Mar 10, 2017
Location
Italy
it's a fact they're used / they committed what a regular army prefer delegate .. then, who decide if they're criminals or heros of war, it's history, a matter always to interpretate if purpose is study it.
anyway @Don Dixon found an excellent point to try to define a - regular irregular - :D
for this reason i would vote NO, in war everybody are criminals so (except prostitutes, or 'vivandieres' to use a gallicism)
 
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