View single post by Texas Defender
 Posted: Sat Nov 3rd, 2007 06:32 pm
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Texas Defender
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Johan-

   You and I agree on more points here than we disagree on.

   For example, as long as an officer wears the uniform of the United States, he should not purposely damage its personnel, equipment, or interests. If he doesn't like what the government is doing, he can resign. In the case of enlisted personnel, they can complete their enlistments and then choose not to enlist again. That is more honorable than engaging in some treachery or conspiracy while still wearing the uniform.

   We agree that Robert E. Lee resigned with integrity. He could have done great damage to the federal cause, either by omission or commission if that had been his aim.

   I am curious to hear your views on some other officers. One for example was Richard Kidder Meade, West Point Class of 1857. He was an officer stationed at Ft. Sumter when it was attacked. Soon after that, he resigned his commission and then joined the cause of the Confederacy. He died in 1862.

   Another interesting officer was Frank Crawford Armstrong, the stepson of US Army General Persifor Smith. He was a regular Army officer who fought on the Union side at First Manassas. Soon after that, he decided that his loyalty was to the other side. In August of 1861, he resigned his commission and became a Confederate officer. In 1863, he became a brigadier general, and he continued to the end of the war.

   In the 1880s and 1890s, he was again employed by the US government as an Indian inspector, and later as the Assistant Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

   Do you put these two men in the same category as General Lee, or with those who betrayed the cause that had employed them up until their resignations? (David Emanuel Twiggs might be an example of that type). Did the fact that they decided that their loyalty was to the other side mean that they: "Broke their word," or somehow violated the oath that they took when first commissioned?

   What should the federal government have done with such men? Not accepted their resignations? Put them in jail? In almost all cases, the government of the day accepted the resignations and let them go on their way. Clearly, it would be handled differently now.

   I know that when a person leaves the military, there is no longer a legal obligation to serve the government. But you seem to think that there is, or at least should be, some moral obligation. What should an honorable officer do when his government follows a course that he is against?

   To me, the only honorable course under those circumstances is to resign, to completely remove yourself from government service. How can this be viewed as :"breaking your word," or :"violating your trust?" That is simply not the case.

   Accepting a commission does not obligate you to a lifetime of government service. Taking an oath upon entering federal office requires your loyalty while occupying that office. If the military had the view of it that the oath applied for ones entire lifetime, then there would be no need to administer a fresh oath when a person re-enlisted.

  

Last edited on Sat Nov 3rd, 2007 06:50 pm by Texas Defender

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