May 19th, 2016


Uncle Billy on military lawyers

Toward the conclusion of his Memoirs, William Tecumseh Sherman gives his opinion on lessons learned from the Civil War. These are not political opinions, but military ones. Sherman was always the consummate professional. And while battlefields and armies have changed quite a bit since 1865 or so, in some ways Sherman's lessons learned stand up remarkably well, as for instance here, when he talks about courts-martial.
The field-officers' court is the best form for war, viz., one of the field-officers -- the lieutenant-colonel or major -- can examine the case and report his verdict, and the colonel should execute it. Of course, there are statutory offenses which demand a general court-martial, and these must be ordered by the division or corps commander; but the presence of one of our regular civilian judge-advocates in an army in the field would be a first-class nuisance, for technical courts always work mischief[emphasis added].