Curmudgeons, Drunkards, and Outright Fools: The Courts-Martial of Civil War Union Colonels
During the Civil War, a Union colonel was five times more likely to be court-martialed than a private. Worse, courts-martial of all ranks increased ... Show synopsis During the Civil War, a Union colonel was five times more likely to be court-martialed than a private. Worse, courts-martial of all ranks increased by 400 percent in the winter months. Among the court-martialed transgressors presented in this volume are an officer nicknamed "Stumpy" because he tended to hide behind tree stumps during combat and a man tried for calling his superior a "miserable reptile." The gallery of offenders also includes a Vermont colonel who became a chloroform addict and a New York colonel who rode his horse into a barroom, ordered a brandy for himself and one for his horse, then fired his pistol through the ceiling. The stories of fifty misdeeds, along with a statistical exploration of twenty-two thousand other courts-martial, provide a pioneering study of the little-known world of Civil War misbehavior and clarify the often-bewildering dynamics between volunteer soldiers and their professional superiors.