08 February 2006 by Published in: General News 3 comments

While doing some updating to my Rush’s Lancers manuscript this evening to incorporate some of the material that I put up last night on Albert P. Morrow, I noticed that Morrow’s service records indicated that while he was a POW the last time, he was charged with a violation of Article 42 of the Articles of War. Now mind you, I may be a lawyer, but I’m not particularly familiar with the Articles of War as they existed in 1863. In fact, my knowledge of them is minimal at best. So, in order to describe this episode accurately in the footnote, I had to find out precisely what he was being charged with doing.

Consequently, I did a Google search to see if I could find the 1863 version of the Articles of War in order to determine precisely the nature of the charges against Morrow. I found a nice AOL member site that includes both the Union and Confederate Articles of War. Both sets of Articles are repeated there verbatim, and it was interesting to compare and contrast them. They are quite similar, with the obvious exception of how they deal with the issue of runaway slaves and contrabands.

Article 42 of the Union version provides: “No officer or soldier shall be out of his quarters, garrison, or camp without leave from his superior officer, upon penalty of being punished, according to the nature of his offense, by the sentence of court-martial.” Thus, when Morrow was arrested, he was charged with being AWOL from the time he was captured on May 13 until he reported back to the regiment. Those charges were dropped immediately upon his showing that his being AWOL was as a result of his being a guest in Libby Prison.

It’s an interesting site that provides useful information.

Dr. Tom Lowry has done some interesting work on Lincoln’s interventions to commute the death sentences of soldiers sentenced to die by courts-martial, on the court-martials of 50 Union surgeons, and on the court-martials of 50 Union lieutenant colonels and colonels. Obviously, the Articles of War–long since supplanted by the Uniform Code of Military Justice–provided the framework for these court-martials, so it’s clear that there is interest in these legal issues. Lowry’s done good work. Check it out if this legal stuff interests you.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Russell Bonds
    Thu 09th Feb 2006 at 10:28 am

    Eric:

    That’s a really nice reference. Many thanks for posting. I’ll add the Articles of War site to my list of great on-line freebie resources; the greatest of which (in my opinion) is the free searchable Official Records and Battles and Leaders at ehistory.com. There are lots of good Lincoln resources on the web as well (searchable Complete Works, etc.) Are there any other good online free resources you’d recommend?

    (Incidentally, Dr. Lowry is very kind and helpful; he quickly answered a question I e-mailed to him on court martial records.)

    Best regards, Russ

  2. Thu 09th Feb 2006 at 10:43 am

    Hi Eric,

    I’d not limit the interest in Dr Lowry’s work to those who appreciate the ‘legal stuff’. In fact, I think the cases presented in ‘Tarnished Eagles’ (the Lt Col and Colonels’ book) are far more interesting for what they say about what happened as the huge Federal army was created, largely with amateur officers, virtually overnight. I opened the book originally to look into a couple of “my guys” (officers at Antietam), and ended up reading the whole thing.

    As a person with some small military experience, I was struck by the lack of regard for discipline and order apparently prevalent among the Federal Volunteers, and the egos and competition felt among and between their officers. I’d heard of the problem, of course, but never had it brought to me so vividly. Fascinating stuff. If the Colonels presented were typical of the Army as a whole, it’s a wonder any of those boys ever got into combat!

    BTW, In addition to several books, Dr Lowry and his wife have created a database of extracted information from _all_ US court martial cases of the War, called the Index Project. Oddly, there’s no web access offered to this data. Andy MacIsaac also blogged about this last month – http://maineheavies.blogspot.com/2006/01/exploring-civil-war-court-martial.html

    Regards,
    Brian

  3. Thu 09th Feb 2006 at 12:06 pm

    Russ and Brian,

    Thanks for the good comments, as always. I actually utilized Dr. Lowry’s assistance with court-martial records. When John Buford was appointed to serve as commander of the Reserve Brigade during the winter of 1863, he received the notice while serving on a general court-martial board of a Major Davidson. Being interested in this sort of thing, Dr. Lowry tracked down the records for me of the court-martial of Maj. Delozier Davidson, who served in the one the Regular infantry regiments. Davidson was cashiered for cowardice in the face of the enemy at Gaines Mill in June 1862. The whole thing was really very interesting indeed.

    Brian, great point about the colonels. Of course, being a lawyer, this sort of thing appeals to me anyway.

    Eric

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