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 Posted: Thu Dec 14th, 2006 05:27 pm
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calcav
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Joined: Sat Jan 28th, 2006
Location: Corinth, MS
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Burnside,

I have studied the 2nd Massachusetts at great length. During the war the 2nd Cav experienced the highest desertion rate of all regiments raised in Massachusetts. Most were bounty jumpers who collected thier money and disappeared. Some made it to camp and then deserted. Several were caught and returned to the regiment where some served out thier time honorably, several deserted again, and some were discharged  or imprisoned. In February of 1864 a man named William Ormsby deserted taking his horse and equipment with him. A week later he was captured while serving as a guide for a detachment of Mosby's Rangers. The commanding officer of the regiment Col. Charles R. Lowell convened a drumhead court martial to try Ormsby. This was an unusual call as the drumhead was to be used when a commanding officer was out of touch with his superiors. The 2nd was in Vienna, Virginia just outside of the Capital and Lowell was in daily contact with his chain of command. Ormsby was found guilty and executed by members of his regiment. An intresting note was that there was not a peep out of Washington concerning the matter and the young Colonel taking matters into his own hands. President Lincoln was in the habit of handing out pardons but did not get the chance here. The lack of official notice from his corps commander and the Secretary of War speaks volumes.

Tom

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