Conduct Unbecoming

Fifteen Military Criminals, Rogues and Victims of Justice from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam


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About the Book

Men and women who serve in the armed forces are subject to a different legal code than those they protect. Throughout American history, some have—through action or failure to act or by circumstances—found themselves facing prosecution by the United States military. One measure of a nation’s sense of justice is how it treats those who surrender some of their rights to defend the rights of fellow citizens.Beginning with the first court-martial (predating the nation itself) and continuing to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the War on Terror, this book examines the proceedings of 15 courts-martial that raised such important legal questions as: When does advocacy become treason? Who bears ultimate responsibility when troops act illegally? What are the limits in protesting injustice? The defendants include such familiar names as Paul Revere and William Calley. The authors examine such overlooked cases as the Somers Mutiny, the trial of the San Patricios and the Port Chicago Mutiny. These trials demonstrate that guaranteeing military justice—especially in the midst of armed conflict—is both a challenge and a necessity in a free society.

About the Author(s)

Scott Baron, Vietnam era Army veteran and former law enforcement officer, teaches United States history in Salinas, California.

The late James E. Wise, Jr., a retired Navy captain in Alexandria, Virginia (d. 2013), wrote many books on history and the performing arts. He served as an intelligence officer aboard USS America during the 1967 Six Day War in the eastern Mediterranean and later in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War.

Bibliographic Details

Scott Baron and James Wise, Jr.

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos & illustrations, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6269-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2306-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments by Scott Baron ix

Preface 1

1. Pvt. Thomas Hickey (Mutiny, Sedition—1776) 3

2. Lt. Col. Paul Revere (Disobedience of an Order—1782) 10

3. Commander Alexander Slidell Mackenzie (Murder, Illegal Punishment—1842) 26

4. Capt. John Patrick Reily (Desertion—1848) 34

5. Lambdin P. Milligan (Ex Parte Milligan) (Conspiracy, Inciting Insurrection—1864) 47

6. Maj. Henry Wirz (War Crimes, Murder—1865) 54

7. Cadet Johnson C. Whittaker (Conduct Unbecoming an Officer, Conduct Prejudicial to
Good Order—1881) 69

8. Camp Logan Incident (Mutiny, Riot—1917) 88

9. Operation Pastorious (Ex Parte Quirin) (Treason, Sabotage—1942) 99

10. Fort Lawton ­Courts-Martial (Riot, Murder—1944) 128

11. Port Chicago ­Court-Martial (Mutiny—1944) 143

12. Freeman Field Mutiny (Disobedience of Orders—1945) 161

13. The ­Court-Martial of Pvt. Eddie Slovik (Desertion—1945) 177

Sidebar: Toth v. Quarles 350 U.S. 11—1955 190

14. Sgt. Charles Robert Jenkins (Desertion and Aiding the Enemy—1965) 192

15. 2nd Lt. William Calley (War Crimes, Cover-Up—1968–1971) 204

Chapter Notes 239

Bibliography 249

Index 253

Book Reviews & Awards

“A useful read for anyone interested in the workings of the military justice system or in any of the cases examined”—Strategy Page.