Tuesday, March 11, 2014

February 7, 1864 (Sunday): A Deserter Meets His End

Brigadier General R. O. Tyler

February 7, 1864- 10. 20 p. m.
Lieutenant Colonel J. H. TAYLOR,
Chief of Staff and Assistant Adjutant- General:
     I have the honor to report al quiet. The deserter [Ormsby] from the Second Massachusetts Cavalry, captured in arms against the United States, was convicted by drum- head court- martial and shot at 12 this noon.

     R. O. TYLER,
     Brigadier- General, Commanding.

Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 536.

The Provost General estimated desertions from the Union Army at 268,000 during the war.  Few, though, met Ormsby's fate.  Ormsby had been jailed previously for allegedly taking a bribe from a Confederate soldier he captured.  Later, he fell for a southern woman and was alleged to have deserted.  You have to say alleged since the court martial was not legal.  Drum head court martials were outside of military justice, conducted late at night and not reported up the chain of command. 

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