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Farm to fork: A rich man’s war, a poor man’s fight | National Hog Farmer
It is the story of a determined people who were pressed into. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Customer Reviews. Write a review. See any care plans, options and policies that may be associated with this product. Email address. Please enter a valid email address. This was certainly magnified in the period following emancipation and the introduction of black soldiers as I argue in my book on the battle of the Crater.
Desertion is a trickier subject to get your head around. These men believed that they had the right to abandon their posts temporarily to assist their families during difficult times. There was no harm done, they believed, if they could sneak off for a week or two without their officers noticing. Soldiers were also notorious for straggling, which was often mistaken for desertion. Desertion was certainly a problem for Confederate armies, but it may not have proven fatal to the war effort until the very end. Confederates experienced a great deal of desertion and straggling during the period between the Seven Days and Sharpsburg, but the army recovered in time for the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville and managed to field a strong and confident force in time for the Gettysburg campaign in the summer of A closer look at desertion may in the end tell us much more about how the Confederacy managed to last as long as it did rather than why it failed.
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Straggling was constant, but depending on factors such as miles covered, weather, and experience, it could vary greatly. James McPherson discusses how it increased before battle. Some soldiers wandered into camp hours after a march ended. Others came in days or weeks later. According to conventional wisdom, Lee left perhaps a third of his exhausted army south of the Potomac during the Antietam Campaign. Sometimes stragglers just disappeared altogether, scooped up the enemy, killed by civilians, or they simply deserted. As Katy Meier points out, commanders hated straggling and increasingly used cavalry to close up stragglers, but that seems to have been hit-and-miss at best.
Bragg has a bad reputation, for example, but my sense of the Kentucky Campaign is that a lot of soldiers just kept describing the same few executions over and over again, with an embellishment here and there. I am working on an essay on Confederate military executions, but I have yet to find a firm number.
I have read , but the sources are questionable. There may have been relatively few, but they span much of the war and do tell us quite a bit about how soldiers viewed desertion. Admittedly, my own work is still sketchy. Best estimates for the number of executions carried out is about , including both sides. About two-thirds of these were for the crime of desertion.
Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Fight
This is really quite a lot when you think about it and much, much higher than in other war involving the US armed forces. If we say the war lasted 50 months, then that is 10 executions per month, or each week. Of course, the execution were far less frequent in the early part of the war, so the judicial killings were actually bunched up toward the latter half of the conflict.
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A certain muddiness enters the picture when you start to look at individual cases. For example, I looked at a case where 7 men from the 3rd North Carolina were put to death in Sept. A group of 10 had deserted their camp at Orange Court House, Va. So the 7 were charged with murder.
Were they executed for murder? Not really easy to say. There was discussion of this case on the Civil War Talk forum recently, so there is more infor available at. In most cases executions were done in severe case like a second attempt at a permanent desertion to set an example for the other soldiers. But as the potential soldier pool dwindled, straggling and French leave soldiers were dealt with more severely.
This is a very good article on Confederate desertion by LSU professor Aaron Sheehan-Dean I mentioned him in my previous post that discusses these issues and much more. In his Further Reading list he notes the books by Lonn and Weitz I mentioned as well as several other studies.
Again anecdotally, there were lots of desertions here in my part of Texas, but only two men were executed in Galveston — one the infamous Nicaragua Smith who had gone over the the Federals and enlisted with them, and another who was attempting to go over to the Federals. And the latter received a last-minute reprieve of his sentence that came too late.
Those who just went home generally suffered lesser punishments, if any, when they were caught and returned to duty. In the s, Ella Lonn calculated that Union desertion rates were slightly higher than Confederate desertion rates. Lonn only had the O. The bigger problem, as I see it, is that not only were many Confederate records destroyed during the war, but in the final six months of the war, as morale deteriorated and Confederacy issues such as procuring meat for the soldiers became drastic, I suspect that counting deserting soldiers was not a high priority for.
That makes the Confederate rate higher than the Union rate but not by any significant amount. And McPherson rightly put the horse back in front of the cart when he claimed that loss of morale did not cause military defeats as much as military defeats caused a loss of moral. In , A. Since the mids, the historians I refer to as post-revisionists McPherson, et al have struck a sensible balance between the extremes of the unified South and the war most southerners refused to fight.
He points to protection of family as the primary reason for a large number of late war desertions instead of demoralization of impending defeat. Last week I bought a Dell laptop with something called Touchpad and it is difficult to work with at first. Allegedly my paternal great-great-grandfather, Andrew J. Randlett 44th Virginia , deserted and then came back. For some reason, the park service has two of him on record with different middle names even though he was literally the only Randlett in the Confederacy, as they were a northern family.