Friday, February 1, 2013
Civil War Photo Friday: Taking the Oath of Loyalty
Most prisoners honored the oath. Some were sick of the war, while others were draftees who had never wanted to be in it in the first place. The temptation of a return to civilian life was a strong one. The Confederate armies in all theaters of the war were plagued with desertions.
Not everyone honored the oath, however. Sometimes a rebel would be captured and would take the oath in order to get out of prison. They considered the oath to have been taken under duress and therefore invalid. Often these guys would become bushwhackers. The Union Military correspondence in Missouri and Arkansas is filled with reports of bushwhackers being killed and having the loyalty oath paper being found on their persons.
Right at the bottom of the form was a line that said that if you broke the oath by acting in support of the Confederacy, the punishment was death. Sometimes oath breakers were taken alive. They nearly always faced execution.
In my next post I'll be talking about the oath of loyalty two Confederate bushwhackers named Frank and Jesse James took.
OK, so this isn't a photo, but hey, it's a photo of a drawing, right?
Image courtesy Library of Congress.