The Bayonet, 10 May 1918
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Two The Bayonet: Camp Lee, VA., Friday, May 10, 1918 It is the worst tribunal for a guilty one. 15.--Q. What is the army disciplinary code called? A. The Articles of War. These are embraced in an act of Congress last revised in 1916, which prescribes the composition, jurisdiction and procedure of courts-martial, and defines and in general prescribes the punishment for military crimes and offenses. 16.--Q. What kind of sentences are courts-martial authorized to impose upon soldiers? A. Depending upon the nature of the offense, and the jurisdiction of the court, they may include (a) death; (b) dishonorable discharge; (c) confinement at hard labor; (d) hard labor without confinement; (e) forfeiture of pay; (f) detention of pay; (g) reprimand; and in addition for noncomissioned officers reduction to the ranks; for first class privates reduction to second class privates, and privates. 17.--Q. May a court-martial deprive a soldier through forfeiture of that portion of his pay which is allotted for his Class A relatives (wife and children); his Class B relatives (parents, grand-children, brothers or sisters) or that portion with which he is purchasing war risk insurance? A. Legally he may be required to forfeit all of his pay except that portion which he is compelled to allot to his Class A dependents. Practically, however, due to regulations on the subject, all of that portion of his pay which is allotted, or which he is using to pay premiums on war risk insurance, is exempted by regulations from the punishing power of courts-martial, except where dishonorable discharge is imposed. 18.--Q. What is a summary court-martial? A. A summary court-martial consists of one officer appointed by a regimental or other commander for the trial of soldiers of his command. The summary court-martial can try any military crime or offense (not capital) committed by soldiers made punishable by the Articles of War, and may impose any punishment except dishonorable discharge, confinement in excess of three months, or forfeiture of more than three months pay. 19.--Q What is a special court-martial? A. A special court-martial is composed of three, four or five officers and has in addition a prosecuting officer, called a judge advocate, whose duties, however, are not limited solely to prosecuting the case for the government, but who will, especially when the accused is not represented by counsel, consider himself as counsel for the accused to the extent of presenting any matter which the accused wishes to have presented, the object being always to present the facts to the court. A special court-martial may be appointed by the commanding officer of a regiment or a higher unit; may try any crime or offense (not capital) made punishable by the Articles of War; and may adjudge any punishment against a solder excepting dishonorable discharge, confinement in excess of six months, or forfeiture of six months pay. 20. Q--What is a general court-martial? A. A general court-martial consists of any number of officers from five to thirteen inclusive, and has a judge advocate (and if necessary an assistant judge advocate). It may be appointed by the commanding officer of a division, or higher command, and may try any offense punishable under military law, and more adjudge any punishment unless its discretion has been limited by law or executive order. 21.--Q. What are the most common offenses tried by summary and special courts-martial? A. The following is the experience of the 80th Division as shown by trials by special and summary courts martial from September 1, 1917 to March 1, 1918: Absence without leave 69.88% Disrespect or disobedience to N. C. O. or sentinel 7.89% Disrespect or willful disobedience of superior officer 2.95% Drunkenness 6.04% Offenses by sentinel or guard 1.30% Breach of arrest 6.75% Miscellaneous (fraudulent enlistment, failure to obey orders, disorders, loss or wrongful disposition of government property, embezzlement, larceny, etc.) 11.19% Total: 100% In addition there have been twenty totals by general court-martial for desertion out of a total of thirty-nine trials. It will therefore be seen that in this division at lease the most common of the minor offenses is absence without leave, and the most common of the major offenses is desertion. 22.--Q. What is desertion? A. Desertion consists of absence without leave, coupled with the intention not to return. It is the intent not to return which distinguishes desertion from mere absence without leave. Some soldiers got the erroneous idea that if they are absent fo a certain length of time they automatically become deserters. This is not true. The length of absence is immaterial provided the soldier intends to return, but if at any time during his absence he has in his mind the intention never to return he is from that moment a deserter. On the other hand, if at the moment of his absence without leave he intended not to return he is a deserter, even though he be apprehended within an hour of his absence without authority. Whenever a soldier is absent from his command and finds that it is impossible for any reason for him to return either through failure to make railroad connections, or through sickness, he should immediately telegraph or write to his company commander in order that he may not be carried on the records as absent without leave. In case he is unable to return through lack of funds he should likewise write or telegraph his company commander, or if he is near any military command or recruiting station (there is one in every large city) he should report to the commanding officer thereof with a view of receiving transportation back, the cost of which will later be deducted from his pay. Failure to take such action is liable to result in his being dropped from the army as a deserter, and a reward for his apprehension being offered by the government. 23. --Q. For what offenses may the death penalty be imposed? A. Assaulting or willfully disobeying a superior officer, mutiny, or sedition, and failure to suppress a mutiny or sedition, may at all times be punished by death. In addition in time of war the following are punishable by death: (a) desertion; (b) advising or aiding another to desert; (c) misbehavior before the enemy (d) subordinates compelling a commander to surrender; (e) improper use of countersign; (f) forcing a safeguard; (g) relieving, corresponding with or aiding the enemy; (h) acting as a spy; and (i) the following offenses when committed by a sentinel: drunkenness, sleeping upon post, or leaving post before regularly relieved. Section II. Civil Rights and Disabilities, by Lieutenant-Colonel I.L. Hunt, Division Judge Advocate. 1. Freedom of movement and speech 1 2. Acting as press correspondent 2 3. Religious freedom 3 4. Conscientious objectors 4 5. Right of assembly and petition 5 6. Suffrage 6 7. Liability for crimes--surrender of accused 7-8 8. Will obedience to orders excuse crime 9 9. Liability to citizens for damages or injuries 10-11 10. Obeying summons 12 11. Taxing a soldier's property 13 12. Use of soldiers to enforce laws 14 1. --Q. Does a citizen surrender any of his constitutional rights when he becomes a soldier? A. Yes, his freedom of movement is necessarily abridged, and due to his military status he is deprived of his right of freedom of speech to the extent that such speech would interfere with discipline. Criticism of public servants is legitimate on the part of citivens, even though it is frequently carried to excess. On the other hand, soldiers must no only show respect at all times to their military superiors, but likewise to the civil offices of our government. (Courtesy among military men is indispensable to discipline, therefore respect to superiors is not confined to obedience when on duty, but is required on all occasions). The Sixty-second Article of War provides that "Any office who uses contemptuous or disrespectful words against the President, Vice-President, Congress of the United States, Secretary of War, or the government or Legislature of any State, Territory, or other possession of the United States, in which he is quartered, shall be dismissed from the service, or suffer such other punishment as a court-martial may direct." The Ninetieth Article of War provides that "No person in the military service shall use any reproachful or provoking speeches or gestures to another, under penalty of being punished by courts-martial." 2.--Q. May a soldier act as a press correspondent? A. Persons in the military service are prohibited from acting as paid correspondents for newspapers. The reason for this is twofold: first, in order that inexperienced persons may not subject themselves to discipline by reason of criticism or military superiors, and, second, in order that knowledge of our military preparations may not be conveyed to the enemy through the innocent disclosure through the press on matters which should be known only to those in the military service. There is no objection, however, on the part of the War Department to the writing of letters or the furnishing of news items to newspapers or magazines in the United States from time to time, provided that such activities do not interfere with the proper performance of military duty, and that all letters containing matter for publication are sent through the military censor at the headquarters where the soldier is stationed. A different rule applies, however, to troops in Europe. All correspondence from soldiers overseas is regulated by the censorship regulations of the commanding general of the American expeditionary forces. 3.--Q. Is religious freedom in any way abridged in the army? A. Absolutely not. The army respects absolutely the religious scruples of each of its members. Military superiors cannot interfere in any way with the religious beliefs of their subordinates. Religious practices, of course, must conform to the requirements of military instruction. A soldier, for instance, cannot demand the right to be absent from drill for the purpose of attending mass or other church service, although every effort is made to accommodate the various denominations represented in the army in the practice of their religion. There is no life which is more broadening in a religious way than the life of a soldier, who must learn to respect the religious beliefs of all men. 4.--Q. Must a man serve when drafted, even though he has conscientious objections against bearing arms or participating in war? A. The selective service law provides that no person shall be required or compelled to serve in the army who is found to be a member of any well-recognized religious sect or organization organized and existing on May 18, 1917, and whose creed or principles on that date forbade its members to participate in war in any form, and whose religious convictions are against war, or participation therein, in accordance with the creed or principles of said religious organization, but no person so exempted will be exempted from service in any capacity that the President shall declare to be noncombatant. The President has defined noncombatant service to consist in duty in various capacities under the medical, quartermaster and engineer corps, therefore conscientious objectors are not excused from service in these capacities. 5.--Q. Is the constitutional right of assembly and petition abridged by reason of military service? A. No, so long as these rights are exercised in a respectful and proper manner. The occasion for their exercise, however, practically never arises, because military regulations provide so carefully for the redress of wrongs that there is no reason fro resorting to these rights. 6.--Q Does the solder lose his right to vote by virtue of military service? A. Legally not, practically yes, unless the State from which he comes has made provision whereby soldiers may vote by mail, or where their votes may be taken by a commission specially provided for this purpose. Political speeches, discussions and debates amount soldiers tend to distract them from the fundamental rule that in the army "None are for a party, but all are for the state," and the feeling engendered by such discussion and debates is injurious to military discipline, since the soldiers from the various States will be scattered among a great many units, due to the necessity of replacing losses in the firing line in France, the War Department will not authorize soldiers serving overseas to exercise the right of suffrage. 7.--Q. Is a soldier liable to the civil authorities for a crime committed by him? A. Yes. If the crime was committed after he became subject to military law and is committed on a military reservation or other property over which the United States exercises exclusive jurisdiction, he may be tried wither by a United States court or by a court-martial, provided the offense is one of which the civil courts may take cognizance, but he may not be tried by both. If the crime is committed within the limits of a State or on a military reservation over which the State retains jurisdiction, he may be held responsible to both sovereignties involved, the State for the violation of its criminal laws, and the United States by a court-martial for a violation of the military code. 8.--Q. Under what circumstances will soldiers by surrendered for trial by civil authorities? A. The right of the government to the services of its citizens in time of war is paramount to all other considerations, and commanding officers are not required to surrender to civil authorities soldiers accused of crime. In order that the uniform may not be a shield for criminals, the War Department requires those accused to more serious crimes, such as felonies, to be surrendered for trial upon the request of civil authorities, but for other offenses they will be punished exclusively by military courts. 9.--Q. How far will obedience of a military order be an excuse for a soldier to commit crime? A. A military subordinate, bound as he is at his peril to obey all orders, not palpably illegal upon their face, may, if brought to trial for an act committed in obedience to an order, apparently legal, but illegal in face, plead in defense his obligation to obey, and such defense will in general be accepted as sufficient answer to the charge. 10.--Q. Is a soldier liable to a citizen for damages to his property where such damage is caused by the soldier in the regular course of his duties? A. The government is not liable for the torts (damages, wrongs,or injuries) of its agents; therefore, if anyone is responsible, the agent himself must be. This will depend upon whether there was negligence or carelessness involved, and if there is, the soldier is liable to the citizen for damages incurred. This, of course, has no application to damages which are unavoidably caused to citizens in the theater of actual hostilities, but refers to such damages as would be caused in automobile accidents and similar injuries in the United States. The Articles of War require that whenever complaint is made to any commanding officer that damage has been done to the property of any person, or that his property has been wrongfully taken, his complaint shall be investigated by a board of officers, which board shall have the power to assess the damages sustained against those responsible therefor, and the amount of such damages may be stopped against the soldier's pay on the pay roll.If the offender cannot be ascertained, but the organization to which he belongs is known, a stoppage sufficient to reimburse the citizen may be assessed upon the individual members of the organization. 11.--Q. Is a soldier liable for trespassing upon the private property of citizens? A. Yes, as stated in the previous answer, exactly the same as if he were not in the army. If he goes upon such property by order of an officer, the officer becomes responsible. Soldiers must never get the idea that their uniform gives them any immunity in such matters that they did not possess as citizens. It is particularly necessary that this fact be borne in mind when on duty overseas, because in the restricted areas, where armies must be quartered in France, there is constant danger of trespassing on private property, and soldiers will be severely punished for such acts. Troops are usually billeted in France; that is, private homes and outbuildings are rented by the government as quarters for them. In this way soldiers may frequently find themselves as the uninvited guests of our allies. The conduct to be expected, and which will be exacted from them is that which we are accustomed to expect from invited guests as home. 12.--Q. Is a soldier required to obey a summons or subpoena served upon him while in the military service? A. Not without the consent of his commanding officer. Certain rules are formulated for governing these matters, and if a soldier should be served with a summons, either personally or by mail, he must refer the matter to his commanding officer before proceeding to obey it. 13.--Q. Is a soldier's property subject to taxation while he is in the military service? A. Yes, but as to failure to pay taxes, see discussion under the subject of solders' and sailors' civil relief act. 14. --Q. Is it the duty of a soldier to assist in the enforcement of the civil law? A. No; an officer or a soldier of the army may individually in his capacity as a citizen use force to prevent a breach of the peace, or the commission of a crime, in his presence on the part of a civilian, but he cannot take part in his military capacity in the administration of civil justice or law. The attitude of the military during a riot or other lawless disturbance should be a strictly neutral one, unless the interests of the United States are in-