Were U. S. Army officers who served in the Confederate armies traitors?

Wayne,
Here’s a report from the University of Texas that has removed a statue of Jefferson Davis from a place of honor on its campus.

Personally, the man was a traitor, guilty of the only crime defined in the Constitution. While you can’t erase him from history, there is no reason for any American to honor him.

The same goes for all of the West Point educated officers who renounced their oaths of allegiance to serve the Confederacy. Plenty of Southern officers remained loyal to the United States.

The Confederacy, and the Southern states defined loyalty to the United States by a citizen of a rebel state as treason against them, and they punished any they caught. So they knew perfectly well that they were traitors.

They should remove the statues of Confederate generals from the U of Texas campus. Rename Washington & Lee Univ. to its original name. And so on.

Bernard

————
I don’t see the West Point officers who defected to the South as traitors. The West Point motto is, “Duty, Honor, Country”. I suspect many or most West Point officers who went South placed duty and honor within family and social environment above country, in line with the motto. A West Point officer can completely honorably resign his or her commission any time after serving some number of years (4?) of active duty. Countries come and go, as do companies – the Soviet Union fell apart in the early 90s, and the US seems to be unraveling now – but bloodline, family and childhood milieu are permanent for each human being.
Were those who fled Germany in the 1930s traitors to their countries? Were the East Germans who tried to escape to West Germany traitors to their country? Are the migrants now pouring into Europe traitors to their countries? I don’t think so. I think everyone has a contract with a country, which the person can renounce at will but the country can’t as a rule.
Wayne
———–

Your thoughts above in italics and indented in what follows:

 I don’t see the West Point officers who defected to the South as traitors.

Here’s the definition of the crime of treason from the US Constitution, Article III, section 3

” Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.”

Leading troops into battle against the U. S. Army from within the United States fits this definition.

Furthermore, the white Southerners understood the crime of treason. Here’s a declaration by Florida’s secession convention, which met and passed a secession document, and remained for a time enacting proclamations and laws in parallel with the legislature. This defined and penalized treason against the insurrectionist government of Florida and the Confederacy.

” If any person shall, by speech or writing, strive to stir up a rebellion in this State against the authority of the State or the Confederate States, or shall by word or deed endeavor to create sedition or be engaged in any seditions or rebellious meeting, assembled to incite resistance to the authority of this State or of the Confederate States, or shall endeavor to seduce any one in the military or naval services of this State or of the Confederate State to desert or betray a trust reposed in him or them.” (Cited in Tampa in the Civil War and Reconstruction, by Canter Brown, Jr., p. 30.)

Indeed this definition, by white Florida secessionists, goes beyond that in the Constitution.

Here’s the Oath of Office taken by all U. S. officers upon receiving their commissions:

” I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” (The oath is for an indeterminate period; no duration is specifically defined.)

I don’t specifically know if this is identical to that sworn by officers before the Civil War, but I’d guess so, or at least pretty close. What do you suppose is a “domestic” enemy?

    The West Point motto is, “Duty, Honor, Country”. I suspect many or most West Point officers who went South placed duty and honor within family and social environment above country, in line with the motto.

Yes. You are correct that those traitors did so. However, the West Point motto does not place Duty and Honor (to ones family and local society) above Country. It places Duty, and Honor alongside Country.

A West Point officer can completely honorably resign his or her commission any time after serving some number of years (4?) of active duty.

Yes. This is correct. However, if they take up arms against the government of the United States, they commit treason.

 Countries come and go, as do companies – the Soviet Union fell apart in the early 90s, and the US seems to be unraveling now – but bloodline, family and childhood milieu are permanent for each human being.

Notice, that when these officers, we suppose, imagined their “in-group” in opposition to their “out-group,” they only imagined white people. Many of them lived in households and local societies in which black residents outnumbered white residents. South Carolina was majority black, and unusually, a majority of white households owned slaves. In the populous northern tier of Florida, in 1860, which was where the major plantations were, many counties, such as those around Tallahassee, had majority black populations.
Furthermore, many white Southern officers didn’t abandon the United States. Faced with the same circumstances as the traitors, those men, in defense of their families and local societies, which were the same as those as the traitors, chose not to take up arms against the United States. Therefore, the social circumstances of any individual officer did not compel them to take up arms against the United States. It was a moral choice.

Were those who fled Germany in the 1930s traitors to their countries?

No. Unless, they then took up arms against Germany. Emigration is not a crime (in most places). But if they did take up arms against the government of their country, then they were traitors to that country. Morally, they may have been right to do so, but they were traitors to the German government of the time. Indeed, the German government executed many thousands of its own citizens and soldiers for crimes such as treason, desertion, and so on. Their definition of treason was broader than ours.

Were the East Germans who tried to escape to West Germany traitors to their country?

No. Although, in this case, emigration or desiring to emigrate was a crime in East Germany. But not the crime of treason. Of course, in that bizarre country, passing out pamphlets urging department stores not to sell toy guns to children was the crime of “warmongering.” (As I learned in my days leading the Washington, DC, chapter of Amnesty International.)

Are the migrants now pouring into Europe traitors to their countries?

No. Of course not. They are not taking up arms against the governments of their home countries.
Those officers who left the U. S. Army and took up arms against it, in violation of their oaths, did not emigrate from their country, which was the United States, but they took up arms against it. Nor did the U. S. Army invade the South, since those states were within the territory of the United States, and, therefore, the U. S. Army was not invading its own country. When Robert E Lee took the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland in 1862 leading to the battle of Antietam and into Pennsylvania in1863 leading to the battle of Gettysburg, he was leading an invasion of those states, however. They were not part of what he claimed was his own country, but were part of the nation against whom he and his men were in rebellion.

 I don’t think so. I think everyone has a contract with a country, which the person can renounce at will but the country can’t as a rule.

Yes. A citizen may renounce his or her citizenship. This is not treason. When Senator Cruz renounced his citizenship as a Canadian, he did not take up arms against the Canadian government within its own territory.

Bernard

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