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 Posted: Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 01:59 am
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kmacaulay
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Desertion then and now
Why desert? I will attempt to determine and explore the differences of deserters then and now? In Twains story he does his best to give the deserters of the civil war a voice. Now there is still war and there are still deserters, but since this one attempt there hasn’t been much of an attempt to give the deserters of today a voice.
The deserters of the civil war deserted more often just young men who thought war would be a great adventure they had no experience and were just put out into battle with little to no training. The men of the civil war seemed to desert more for the causes of poor food and condition ("Desertion in the civil war armies"). They also where having to fight their own brothers in some cases. During the civil war the men in the forces were unsure of what to do because the men there where fighting where men of the same decent. The only difference they may have is the fact as to whether or not they believed in the business of slavery. Another simple difference they may have is just the line that divides them the Mason-Dixon Line. The soldiers that were stationed closer to home where even more likely to desert due to getting bad news from home and even just the fear of death. One soldier stated “One half of the desertions from the Southern army is caused by the letters they receive” (Gorski). Now something most people don’t realize is that the north actually had more deserters than the south in the war. The north started out with 197,247 men in the beginning of the war and the south only started out with 103,400 (Gorski). In the confederation during the year 1862 conscription (The draft) was established. Many men were forced to join the campaign during this time, but also many looked for loopholes such as some loopholes allowed wealthy slave owners to be “overlooked” by the draft ("Desertion in the civil war armies"). In the Union conscription was started in the year 1863 ("Desertion in the civil war armies"), this of course led to more deserters because some people just joined the war to satisfy the requirements of the draft. Many others just simply deserted because they were tired of killing people they knew (Gorski).
Men who desert from the wars of today tend to have different reasons for deserting. Today men in wars face a whole new set of challenges wars of today are much more deadly than wars of the past with the advancement in military weapons. The amount of deserters has increased 80% since the beginning of the Iraq wars in 2003("Army desertion up 80% since start of Iraq war"). Many men of today have told themselves that it is morally wrong to kill a person which is why people of today don’t only desert more but claim they cannot kill another human being under the fact that it is against their religion. Many men coming back from one or two terms in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars decided they don’t want to go back because they feel as if the war is going nowhere so they choose to take up sanction in Canada, avoiding being prosecuted for deserting the army (Childress). Then the soldiers that are a part of the war feel as if when they gain any advantage and do something beat some group of rebels or something then they turn the gained land over to the government and it ends up back in the hands of the people they just took it from. They then feel as if they are only helping the rebels they are trying to fight (Childress).
The differences in the reasons for deserting from the army today and back in the civil war are quite extensive. The men in the army today tend to always be well prepared for battle and are almost always kept well fed as they can be. As of right now the draft is not in effect meaning everyone who is in the military no matter what branch volunteered to be there in the beginning. They may feel like they don’t want to be there anymore and think this particular war should be over with due to the fact we are still fighting an enemy that doesn’t even have a particular nation since we are still trying to fight terrorism. The men of the past deserted more because they knew the men they were fighting and they weren’t just another face in a crowd a lot of the time they knew these people because they had grown up with them, giving them more of a reason not to wanting to be in this fight at all. Now for the most part this has all been my own thoughts proven only by the facts that I have found. Given this I would like to hear some of your thoughts?

-Kyle Macaulay





Childress, Sarah. "The number of soldiers deserting the U.S. Army is rising. A defense lawyer discusses what the'yre saying about leaving their posts-and whether the'yre likely to find sanctuary in Canada.." People are very Disheartened. (2007): n. page. Web. 22 Sep. 2013. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2007/03/26/people-are-very-disheartened.html>.
"Desertion in the civil war armies." Desertion. N.p., 01 Sep 2008. Web. 22 Sep 2013. <http://www.civilwarhome.com/desertion2.htm>.
"Desertion in the civil war armies." Union Army, Confederate Army. N.p., 10 Febuary 2002. Web. 22 Sep 2013. <("Desertion in the civil war armies")>.
Gorski, Dave. "Desertion Figures." The CWi discussion board. N.p., 13 Sep 2005. Web. 22 Sep. 2013. <http://www.civilwarinteractive.com/forums/forum1/62.html>.
"Washington." Army desertion up 80% since start of iraq war. (2007): n. page. Web. 22 Sep. 2013. <http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21836566/ns/us_news-military/t/army-desertion-percent-iraq-war/

Last edited on Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 01:46 pm by kmacaulay



 Posted: Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 03:31 am
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Hellcat
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You may want to look at the consequences as well. If I remember correctly, Samuel Clear discusses one such incident in his diary, which was collected by Daniel Chisholm and incorporated into The Daniel Chisholm Notebook (Chisholm, his brother Alex, and Clear all served in the same unit). Also check The 1863 Laws of War.



 Posted: Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 11:45 am
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kmacaulay
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The consequences seem to greatly vary in some instances during the civil war some people who had deserted at some point were just mustered back into the war at a lower rank and no pay for that absence. Deserters didn't often face the full penalty of the law which is death for deserting, though some men did get this consequence for their actions. Men who desert today can get dishonorably discharged and still the full penalty of the law is death for desertion so there is a chance that they would have to face death. Most men who desert today hide in other countries escaping any punishment at all. A lot of men have chosen to flee to Canada to escape any kind of punishment for not wanting to go back to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.



 Posted: Tue Sep 24th, 2013 04:20 am
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Hellcat
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But what was the penalty? According to The 1863 Laws of War death was the primary penalty for desertion, but not the only possible penalty. On page 8, from Part I:

ART. 20. All officers and soldiers who have received pay, or have been duly enlisted in the service of the United States, and shall be convicted of having deserted the same, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as, by sentence of a court-martial, shall be inflicted.*

It does make it clear that death is the penalty for desertion. But it also makes it clear that there was the possibility of other punishments. Now note the asterisk, which is actually in the manual and leads to a note on the bottom of the page.

*No officer or soldier in the Army of the United States shall be subject to the punishment of death, for desertion in time of peace.---Act-29th May, 1830.

So the punishment of death only applied during time of war. Yet it never makes clear in this article what other punishments might be. However, it states that it is by court-martial that death or some other punishment be inflicted.


But punishment for desertion didn't always end with the deserter. Move over to page 9 and Articles 22 and 23. Now according to the table of contents Article 22 is supposed to be about discharges, but it is also about desertion.

ART. 22. No non-commissioned officer or soldier shall enlist himself in any other regiment, troop, or company, without a regular discharge from the regiment, troop, or company in which he last served, on penalty of being reputed a deserter and suffering accordingly. And in case any officer shall knowingly receive or entertain such non-commissioned officer or soldier, or shall not, after his being discovered to be a deserter, immediately confine him, and give notice thereof to the corps in which he last served, the said officer shall, by a court-martial, be cashiered.

ART. 23. Any officer or soldier who shall be convicted of having advised or persuaded any other officer or soldier to desert the service of the United States, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be inflicted upon him by the sentence of a court-martial.



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