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 22,343 were exempted from physical defect or other cause, 3,044 failed to report, and 3,623 paid commutation, amounting to $1,085,800.1 The subject of cowardice and desertion is one upon which it is useless to enter in detail, because one soon finds that, the whole subject being naturally vexatious, commanding officers have usually avoided it, and accurate details are unattainable. The Massachusetts commander who faced it most fully appears to have been Col. N. B. McLaughlen of the 1st Infantry, who in his final report gave a list (not printed) of nine commissioned officers and thirteen men who had disgraced their State by cowardice.2 Even this list may have been untrustworthy, since all experience shows that a man may at first shirk, and yet turn out brave at the end.3 It has never been charged on any Massachusetts regiment that it showed cowardice collectively, although there were instances during the Civil War where whole bodies of troops turned their backs at the first engagement.4 In respect to desertions, General McLaughlen reports a desertion of 160 in the 1st Mass. Infantry, out of a total of about ten times that number. Ten per cent. of desertion is a large figure; but that in other regiments was much larger, usually occurring late in the war, when a class of men called bounty jumpers grew up, who enlisted expressly with a view to this. Bowen, in his Massachusetts in the Civil War, gives the following figures as to desertion,5 the ten worst regiments, in this respect, being graded as follows: 2d Cavalry, 614 desertions; 3d Heavy Artillery, 381 desertions; 11th Infantry, 320 desertions; 3d Cavalry, 289 desertions; 28th Infantry, 279 desertions; 2d Infantry, 276 desertions; 4th Cavalry, 261 desertions; 9th Infantry, 236 desertions; 20th Infantry, 226 desertions; 47th Infantry, 225 desertions. The larger proportion of desertions in the cavalry regiments was due partly to the fact of their often scattered life at outposts and headquarters; partly to
1 The number of drafted men and substitutes actually mustered into service during 1863 was as follows: 9th, 200; 11th, 201; 12th, 322; 13th, 200; 15th, 202; 16th, 202; 18th, 302; 19th, 211; 20th, 201; 22d, 194; 28th, 200; 32d, 312; 54th, 73; provost guard, 224. Total, 2,944. (Mass. Adjutant General's Report, January, 1864, p. 27.) As to ‘the curse of conscription,’ see Walker's 2d Army Corps, p. 11. In Massachusetts, as this exhibit shows, the curse was reduced to a minimum.
2 Mass. Adjutant-General's Report (January, 1865), p. 195.
3 The writer knows of a regiment—not from Massachusetts—in which the only officer who distinctly showed the white feather, when under fire for the first time, was also the only one who afterwards selected the army as a profession, remaining in it with credit to this day.
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