During the American Civil War they would have been shot

Monday, March 1st, 2021

One night, as the temperature dropped to near zero, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), a lieutenant called Busbey’s command post:

“Captain, I have a fully armed NKPA here who has turned himself in —”

Quite a few North Koreans, from time to time, when they could slip past their officers, came voluntarily into U.N. lines. This was nothing new.

But Sadler continued. “He surrendered to the tanks back of me —”

“By God, I hadn’t thought of that — I don’t know, Captain.”

“Well, think about it!” Busbey told him, hanging up.

Sadler roused his platoon sergeant, Trexler, and they got a ROK to query the enemy soldier. He had walked down the road in the valley — right through an area where Sadler had two standing patrols, two foxholes containing three men, with absolute orders that one man remain awake at all times. Sadler and Trexler looked at each other, and went out into the night.

Jack Sadler went up one side of the trail. Trexler the other. On both sides they found all men zipped up in their bags, sound asleep.

If the Inmun Gun had probed that night, they could have walked to Seoul for the weekend, as Busbey said.

After listening to the lame, stumbling stories, Busbey, furious, preferred charges against four enlisted men.

And two night later, while the four were awaiting trial, the NKPA attacked down through the same valley. The outposts were alert; they were repulsed at the main line.

A 76mm artillery round killed Sergeant Trexler, however; and the Division Judge Advocate General said he would have to drop the case against the two men Trexler had caught sleeping on outpost — there was now no witness against them. The two were released.

But the remaining two, with Sadler’s testimony, were convicted by a general court-martial at Division HQ. Each was given ten years at hard labor, and dishonorable discharge.

Because of their stupidity, and their lack of responsibility, hundreds of their comrades might have died. During the American Civil War they would have been shot.

The verdict was reversed:

But inevitably, sooner or later, a people will get the kind of justice and military service they deserve.


  1. Jack T. says:

    More than one soldier was killed in action trying to find and save Bowe Bergdahl, who walked off his post. Obama met with the Bergdahls…

  2. Kirk says:

    “But inevitably, sooner or later, a people will get the kind of justice and military service they deserve.”

    Truer words were ne’er spoken. The fruits of the things that Fehrenbach observed were all around us while I was in the Army during the last decades of the 20th and the first one of the 21st. Nobody wants to be the “bad guy” who is a dick about holding people to standards, and God forbid that you should ever try holding a member of one of the protected classes accountable for either their wrongdoing or outright criminal stupidity. White males are the only ones you can safely censure or hold responsible for their actions, and that only when it’s really egregious or they’ve transgressed against a member of one of the varied and sundry protected classes.

    Which erodes standards, because all you have to do as a white dude being held accountable is find an instance where that same commander has let someone of a darker color tone or different sexual persuasion off for the same thing, and you’re home free.

    The reality is that our society is what’s driving this crap, and nobody wants to be the person being the asshole, demanding staunch behavior and upright conduct. It’s all about studiously looking the other way while the female commander commits adultery with her lovers, while burning with indignation when one of her male counterparts is found doing the same thing. I’m not sure where this all comes from, but it has been going on within the institution of the Army (and, other branches as well, from what I’ve seen…) since at least the early 1980s.

    Fixing it? Ain’t likely to happen, absent some sort of society-wide return to morality and accountability akin to what the Victorians went through as a response to the outrageous conduct of the Regency era. Not holding my breath for that, in my lifetime. What we’re likely to see is even more of the same erosion of standards and behavior until there’s a societal collapse and the effort of dealing with that is going to make it very likely that a new era of rectitude comes about.

    More likely, it’ll just get worse and worse until the inherent contradictions become impossible to ignore. Where that ends, I wouldn’t venture to predict in any way, shape, or form.

  3. Sam J. says:

    “More than one soldier was killed in action trying to find and save Bowe Bergdahl…”

    He should have been shot.

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