10,200 pages of U.S. Army Civil War and Reconstruction Era military trial records, general courts martial and military commission trials.
The proceedings of the military trials, general court martial orders and military commissions, dating from the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1861 to 1872. They consist of bound typeset abstracts of case record summaries, which contain the most important points from the documents and legal papers of the proceedings.
The abstracts commonly include the name of the accused, rank or civilian designation, charges, narrative of accusations, pleadings of the defendant, the verdict, sentence, and any notes relevant to the case. Many abstracts include the presiding officer's signature. Most volumes include an index of names.
The charges found in these documents range from murder, rape, spying, treason, desertion, embezzlement, theft, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, disorderly conduct, disobedience of orders, disloyal statements, drunkenness, and various misdemeanors and infractions of military rules.
Sentences could range from being reprimanded by a commanding officer while stranding on a barrel in the middle of the regiment, expulsion from the Army, solitary confinement while on bread and water, imprisonment with hard labor, imprisonment with hard labor while wearing a ball and chain, to death by hanging or firing squad.
Some of the trials in these accounts are not of soldiers, but of civilians accused of aiding the Confederates during the Civil War. Military commissions, special courts, were established under Union Civil War martial law for the trial of private citizens.
One civilian who found themselves in front of a military commission was Zaidee J. Bagwell. She was charged with "Violations of the Laws of War." The resident of St. Louis, Missouri attempted to send by courier a love letter, pair of gloves and a photograph to W. F. Luckett, a "rebel in arms against the United States."
The abstract of her trial includes a transcript of the entire letter which concluded with, "Give my love to all the rebels, Ed. Barton, Willie Halleck and Shod., and more to yourself. Write by the first carrier to me, and a long letter. We all send much love to you and Mr. Flannigan, and hope you will give the Feds your best Minnie ball, and shoot a few extra balls in revenge for us. You may look for several kisses in this letter, and you will find them. Write soon to your true and devoted rebel, ZAIDEE J."
The prisoner plead not guilty to all charges; the finding of the Commission was guilty on all charges. Her sentence was house arrest for the duration of the rebellion, the signing of an oath of allegiance to the United States, and the posting of a $1,000 bound. The abstract notes that the sentence was mitigated due to intervention by Zaidee's father. The sentence was changed to banishment from the United States during the rebellion, allowing her to go to the South. Her father was required to post a $5,000 bail and she had to promise not to aid the rebels.
The volumes include:
Military Trials Middle Department, 1863 - 1866
General Court Martial Orders Department of the South, 1862 - 1868
General Court Martial Orders Department of the Gulf, 1862 - 1867
General Court Martial Orders Department of the Missouri 1861 - 1863
General Court Martial Orders Department of Texas 1861, 1865 - 1866, 1870 - 1872
General Court Martial Orders Department of the Cumberland, 1866 - 1870
General Court Martial Orders Department of the Missouri 1866 - 1867
General Court Martial Orders Department of the Missouri 1868
General Court Martial Orders Department of the Missouri 1869 - 1870
General Court Martial Orders Department of the Missouri 1871 - 1872