The Corner

Articles of War

A reader:

I can only assume that the Articles of War have gone the way of all good things (nice list here). Articles 12 and 13 are relevant:

  • Every person in the fleet, who through cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall in time of action withdraw or keep back, or not come into the fight or engagement, or shall not do his utmost to take or destroy every ship which it shall be his duty to engage, and to assist and relieve all and every of His Majesty’s ships, or those of his allies, which it shall be his duty to assist and relieve, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.
  • Every person in the fleet, who though cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall forbear to pursue the chase of any enemy, pirate or rebel, beaten or flying; or shall not relieve or assist a known friend in view to the utmost of his power; being convicted of any such offense by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

Most of the Articles specify punishment as “death, or such other punishment as the nature and degree of the offense shall deserve, and the court martial shall impose.” These two do not.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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