Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Military Justice in the Civil War

Punishments were meted out for the following:

Minor infractions:

A period of time at the guard house.

Additional duty such as maintaining the sinks (latrines), cleaning out the stables and disposing dead horses.


"Buck and Gag"; The prisoners wrists and ankles were tied and a large stick was tied to his mouth. This could last hours.

"Standing on the Chines"; The prisoner was made to stand on a barrel with the top removed.

"Wear the Jacket"; The prisoner was made to wear a barrel and marched through camp to the ridicule of his fellow soldiers.

"Ride the horse"; The prisoner was made to sit on a bar ten feet off the ground as if on a horse.

Force the prisoner to march around with a knapsack full of bricks.

Make the prisoner stand on a raised platform without protection from the elements.

Tie the prisoner to a spare wagon wheel. While the wagon is in motion! (Very painful!)

Make the prisoner carry a loaded saddle or a heavy beam all day.

Attach a iron ball to the prisoner's ankle.

Place the prisoner in a "sweat box."

Serious transgressions:

Hanging the prisoner by his thumbs, with the toes just reaching the ground.

Hard labor at harsh places such as the Dry Torttugas, off the Florida coast.

Bread and water punishments were also common.

The offender was dishonerably discharged, uniform stripped off, head shaved, facial cheeks branded with a red hot iron (usually the letter D) and finally marched out of the camp.


Death by firing squad.

Spying, murder, rape, and treason:

Death by hanging.

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