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"Desertion in the Union Army" Topic

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American Civil War

374 hits since 26 Feb 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2018 10:34 a.m. PST

"Desertion was a problem for both the Confederate and the Union armies, even though it was a serious offense punishable by death. Politicians and generals complained that soldiers were being granted leave on the eve of major battles in which their presence was necessary to the cause. After the Battle of Fredericksburg, when morale was low, the Union had to deal with 100 or more deserters daily. Some believe as many as one in five Union soldiers and one in three Confederate soldiers deserted their post during the war. It is difficult to determine the exact figures, in part because of the number of casualties that were unidentifiable.

As many soldiers approached the end of their first three-year tour of duty in late 1863, the Union decided to use peer pressure to keep soldiers from leaving the army. They offered regiments perks if a certain percentage of the original band of men stayed on for another tour of duty. Men were pressured by their fellow soldiers to stay on and fight—a decision that they most likely would not have made on their own. After the second tour of duty began, some of these men would join the ranks of deserters…."
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