The Bayonet, 10 May 1918
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Civil Rights of a Soldier, Prepared Expressly for Members of the 80th Division, as a Special Supplement of The Bayonet. Vol. 1, No. 32 Camp Lee V.A. Friday, May 10th, 1918 Special Supplement
Headquarters Eightieth Division Camp Lee, Va., April 22, 1918 To the Company and Platoon Commanders and Soldiers of the Eightieth Division: A kindly government has enacted the most progressive laws ever placed upon the statue books to care for those who must bear the burden of battle, and for his widow and orphan. Every soldier should understand his rights and obligations under these laws. He must also know the reason for, and the importance of, discipline and what his relations to civil authority are; for the enforcement of all laws depends ultimately upon the soldier. The pacifist and the idealist deny this in the days of ease and luxury, but a little simple reasoning would demonstrate to them the falsity of their position. Citizens of a democracy enact their own laws and provide courts to interpret and enforce them; lest, however, the judge, in times of stress, be unable to enforce his orders, he is provided with a marshal. When the marshal alone cannot enforce the orders of the court he calls upon the posse comitatus, but when the latter fails the solder then must see that the mandate of the people is enforced. A declaration of war is a mandate from the people, but it cannot be enforced through a writ of mandamus. The stability of institutions, therefore, depends in the last analysis upon the soldier--hence the necessity for his understanding his relations to civil authority. One thing many people in this country do not yet realize is that America, during the next generation, will be governed by the men who serve her in the ranks of her national forces during the present emergency. From the close of the Civil War down to 2908 every chief executive of the nation but one had been a citizen-soldier. No man is fit to govern until he has learned to obey--hence the vital importance of discipline. Obedience is demanded in proportion to your great responsibility, for "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask more." It is the hope of the officers who have prepared this primer of the duties and obligations of soldiers that it may serve to answer some of the many questions which soldiers ask. If, at any time, further information is desired, the office of the Division Judge-Advocate and the Bureau of War Risk Insurance will gladly furnish the same upon request. A. Cronkhite Major-General, Commanding
Section 1. Discipline By Lieutenant Colonel I.L. Hunt, Division Judge Advocate Q.&A. 1. Defined 2. Necessity for -Examples 2-4 3. Saluting--origin and purpose 5-6 4. How created 7 5. How maintained 8 6. Punishments for breaches of discipline 9 7. Limitations on disciplinary punishments 10 8. Courts-Martial--Kinds 11 9. Constitutional rights before Courts-Martial 12 10. Prohibited punishments 13-15 11. Articles of war defined 15 12. Compositions and jurisdiction of Courts-Martial 16-20 13. The most common military offenses 21 14. Desertion 22 15. Death penalty 23 1.--Q. What is discipline? A. Discipline is the cheerful subordination of self for the good of others. 2. --Q Why is discipline in an army necessary? A. It serves the same purpose in an army that hydraulic cement does in concrete. Without it there would be no cohesion, and instead of having one solid compact body obedient to the will of the commander, we would have as many units as there were individuals composing the army. 3--Q Has the present European war produced any examples of the evil effects to be apprehended from the lack of discipline in an army? A. The situation in which Russia, with a population of 150,000,000 finds herself at present, helpless in the face of a merciless enemy, is due primarily to the fact that the sense of discipline was lost in her army. As long as discipline was maintained, the Russian armies fought as bravely as any of the allies, but as soon as this discipline was undermined by false social theories the Russian army lost its power of cohesion and became a mob, each individual thinking of his own welfare, and having confidence in neither his neighbor nor his superior. In justice to the Russian soldier, however, than whom there is no braver man alive, it must be stated that the spies and traitors at the Russian capital, who checkmated all his efforts, were primarily responsible for the downfall of the Russian army, and when the Russian people fell the army fell with it; nor can the Russian people again arise until the Russian army again feels the restraints of discipline. 4.--Q. What examples have produced in the present war showing the benefits to be expected from discipline in an army? A. Nothing but the power of discipline could have saved France at the Marne, and at Verdun, or the British at Ypres and during the present great battles. The tribute which civilization will hereafter pay to the French and the British solder will be due to the discipline which had been instilled in him. On the other hand, Germany--a nation of 60,000,000 people, living in a territory smaller than the State of Texas, has carried on an aggressive war for nearly four years against nations greatly outnumbering them, and with the single exception of the Russian army in East Prussia in the first few months of the war and the French in a part of Lorraine no enemy soldier has yet put food on German soil. Americans have no desire to maintain in their army the kind of discipline in effect in the German army, but considering the purpose which the German government and the German leaders have had in view in instilling discipline in the minds of the German people, and in their army, no one can deny its effectiveness for the purpose of which it was created. 5. --Q. What connection is there between the military salute and discipline? A. Military courtesy is merely an evidence of discipline. The military salute in the eyes of the uninformed and unintelligent implies some acknowledgement of inferiority, but on the contrary it implies an equality and is of very ancient origin. In the old days in Europe every free man was a soldier, and all carried weapons. When they met each would hold up his right hand to show that he had no weapon in it, and that they met as friends. Slaves or serfs, however, were not allowed to carry weapons, and slunk past the free men without making any sign. In this way the salute came to be the symbol or sign by which soldiers (free men) might recognize each other. The lower classes begun to imitate the soldiers in this respect, although in a clumsy, apologetic way, and thence crept into civil life the custom of raising the hat or nodding as one passed an acquaintance. The same customer was practiced among knights, and when one knight met another he would push back the visor of his helmet in order to expose the upper part of his face so that the could be recognized as a friend. The American soldier is taught merely to touch the visor of his headgear, but the British, who are more punctilious in matters of form than we are, still go through the motion of raising the visor of the helmet, and turning the palm of the hand to the front. 6. Q--Why is a soldier required to assume the position of attention and of alertness when saluting? A. Because by so doing he says by his attitude: "I respect the authority of those who are placed over me for the time being because they are the only ones who have the power of life and death over me; therefore, I am on the alert to ascertain whether I am to receive any orders." 7. --Q. How is discipline in an army created? A. By absolute obedience to every order, regulation or command, coupled with absolute fairness. To emphasize the importance of obedience, the first paragraph of Regulations for the Army of the United States requires "All persons in the military service are required to obey strictly and to execute promptly the lawful orders of their superiors." The army consists primarily of officers and soldiers, but it will be noted that the regulation quoted makes no distinction between officers and soldiers regarding the matter of obedience. No officer ever rises so high in the army that he does not have to obey, and the higher he rises and the more responsible his position the more implicitly he is required to obey. The latest recruit may deliberately commit an offense and take a chance on his punishment, but the highest ranking officer of the army would commit suicide rather than willfully disobey and order of the President of the United States. 8.--Q. How is military discipline maintained? A. First and foremost, by the creation of a state of mind called in military language, "Morale". This is based primarily upon the pride which an individual takes in himself, and the achievements of the organization to which he belongs. It is accentuated by difficult service, and losses in battle, which have the same effect in strengthening moral as proper exercise has on the muscles of the body. When an army loses its morale it is defeated. Secondly, by power vested in superiors to punish disobedience. 9.--Q How are breaches of discipline in the army punished? A. First, by the infliction of disciplinary punishments; secondly, by courts-martial. 10.--Q. Is there any check placed on the power of superiors to impose disciplinary punishments? A. Military authority is required to be exercised with firmness, kindness, and justice. Superiors are forbidden to injure those under their authority by tyrannical or capricious conduct, or by abusive language. When minor offenses are committed commanding officers may admonish or reprimand the offender, or withhold from him such privileges as going on pass; may impose extra fatigue or restrict him to specified limits, but he cannot without trial require the forfeiture of pay or confine a solder under guard. These punishments are authorized by law, but a solder who deems punishment imposed by his commanding officer without the formality of a trail unjust or disproportionate to the offense, may appeal to the next higher officer. Such appeals are rarely resorted to, however, because a soldier must be granted a trial by court-martial if he demands it in lieu of disciplinary punishment. It is a safe rule to follow, however, that superior officers understand better than a subordinate the reason, necessity and proprietry for punishments awarded. The soldier who puts forward his best efforts to obey implicitly will never be concerned with either disciplinary punishments or courts-martial. 11.--Q. How many kinds of courts-martial are there? A. Three--General, Special and Summary Courts-Martial. 12.--Q. Are the constitutional rights of accused persons as fully guaranteed in trials by courts-martial as in trials before the civil courts? A. Yes, the accused enjoys the right to a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the nature and the cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense. Except in the case of the summary court, before which the proceedings are similar to that of a police magistrate, the accused is tried in every case by a jury of from three to thirteen members. In addition, in trials by general court-martial the indictment, or as it is commonly called is military procedure, the charges are investigated by a disinterested officer whose action is identical with that of a grand jury. Finally all punishments awarded by courts-martial are carefully circumscribed by law and regulations, and are subject to the supervisory control of superior authority in every case. 13. --Q What punishments are prohibited? A. Punishments by flogging, branding, marking or tattooing on the body, which were formerly common punishments for all criminals, are now prohibited by law. Certain punishments formerly sanctioned by custom are no longer imposed, such as carrying a loaded knap-sack, shaving the head, placarding, placing in the pillory or the stocks, tying up by the thumbs, or putting in irons. Neither handcuffs nor leg irons are now used as punishments, but they may be used in exceptional cases for the purpose of preventing escape of dangerous prisoners. Similarly solitary confinement on a bread and water diet may be used in exceptional cases, solely as the means of enforcing prison discipline, but not as a punishment. 14.--Q. If the rights of accused persons are so carefully guarded why do courts-martial have the reputation of being harsh tribunals? A. Because their purpose is to assist in maintaining the discipline of the army, therefore their judgements must be quickly rendered, their procedure must be devoid of all technically consistent with the fundamental rights of accused persons, and their judgements must be prompt and severe, not so much that the accused himself may suffer, but that others may be deterred from committing similar offenses. Unlike jurors in civil cases, all of the jurors who act in courts-martial procedure are specialists in the matter of investigation, and they can rarely be deceived by ingenuity of counsel. A courts-martial is the best tribunal in the world for an innocent person.