Research What's the meaning of "furlough of indulgence"?

Bruce Vail

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In researching the war experience of a family ancestor I learned that he received a "furlough of indulgence" in February 1865 for a period of 18 days. The phrase seemed self explanatory at first, but on further consideration it ocurred to me that it might have some very specific meaning in the context of that particular time and place. At the time the furlough was approved, the ancestor was a 1st Lieutenant in a North Carolina infantry regiment camped behind the lines at Petersburg, Va.

Given the rather desperate position of the Army of Northern Virgina in Feb. 1865, a discretionary furlough for a junior officer seems a bit odd. What would justify a furlough of indulgence under such circumstances? Would it have to be an emergency of some kind? Since the Confederacy was collapsing everywhere in the South at that time, what would constitute an emergency that would justify a furlough?
 
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Ole Miss

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Bruce Vail

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I don't know the meaning, but possibly the death of a spouse leaving children needing care on their own might qualify the Lt for a furlough, even with the army desperate for manpower.

Death of a spouse or of a child seems like a perfectly good reason for a furlough of indulgence. Not the case with my ancestor, though, who was unmarried even though aged 32 at the time.

Both of his parents were still alive in 1865, though there may have been illness that perhaps threatened death. The father is recorded as having died in 1868, but I don't have any of the details that might suggest a prolonged illness.
 
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Lubliner

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Death of a spouse or of a child seems like a perfectly good reason for a furlough of indulgence. Not the case with my ancestor, though, who was unmarried even though aged 32 at the time.

Both of his parents were still alive in 1865, though there may have been illness that perhaps threatened death. The father is recorded as having died in 1868, but I don't have any of the details that might suggest a prolonged illness.
The only approach I can think of is a Catholic religious expression, where Indulgence is part of their faith.
Lubliner.
 
"In general terms, it means he was allowed a furlough due to his commanding officer's consideration of his personal situation and not due to some other circumstance, such as the soldier being seriously ill or wounded."*

Not sure that this helps but thought I would share.
Regards
David

*http://www.history-sites.com/cgi-bin/bbs62x/vacwmb/webbbs_config.pl?md=read;id=4921

This passage agrees with you:
"On July 6, 1862, Robert volunteered a second time with the CSA in Lincoln County, North Carolina. From August through February and September through October in 1862 to 1863, he was 'present and accounted for' and still due his 'bounty' at year’s end for enlisting. Robert was finally paid in January. In 1864, in either January or February, he was sent home for reason of 'furlough of indulgence.' The term 'furlough of indulgence' is akin to modern-day 'compassionate leave' or 'hardship leave,' meaning the soldier receiving the furlough was being 'indulged' by the service in being granted leave."
http://nccivilwarcenter.org/four-br...p-jesse-isaac-stroup-jr-and-william-m-stroup/
 

lupaglupa

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It's possible there was an illness not recorded - whoever it was seemed close to death but then managed to pull through. Also, it could have been the death of a fiancée. If she died before the wedding she would not show up on a record. Kudos to his superior officer - it must have been hard to let an officer go at that time.
 

Bruce Vail

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It's possible there was an illness not recorded - whoever it was seemed close to death but then managed to pull through. Also, it could have been the death of a fiancée. If she died before the wedding she would not show up on a record. Kudos to his superior officer - it must have been hard to let an officer go at that time.

I'm leaning to the theory that one of the parents was suffering a dangeous, potentially fatal, illness. Both parents were in their 70s at the time, so would have been vulnerable even in more peaceful and prosperous times.
 
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