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Sleeping on watch.

The greatest crime that a soldier can commit is sleeping on watch. The punishment is death,--deservedly so,--all over the world. In the armies of England, France, and the North, the man who sleeps upon his post dies. Public considerations overbalance all promptings of mercy and compassion. It seems a hard, cruel decree, which sends a man to death for sleeping on his post, but then it is replied that this seeming inhumanity to one man is true mercy and humanity to thousands. No army is safe for a moment, and of course the cause which depends upon an army is continually in danger when sentinels are permitted to sleep with impunity, whilst the most rigorous penalties of military discipline are executed upon sentinels of the other side when they neglect their duty.

Dismissal from the army should be the least punishment of any man who sleeps upon his post. It is a high crime; it involves such terrific hazards, and possible slaughter and destruction, that it seems to us more care should he taken in the selection of men for this kind of duty than any other military duty whatever. Men, overcome with fatigue, by who have the capacity of the ‘"fat boy"’ in ‘"Pickwick"’ for falling asleep upon the slightest provocation, should never be entrusted with this kind of service. We have not heard of a single case of a man sleeping upon his post in the Northern Army. In this respect, the ‘"ruse ally virtue of discretion"’ is more valuable than that excess of courage which sometimes prompts men to disregard ordinary precautions against danger, and which had often eased the sacrifice — the self-sacrifice — of brave men' to the most despicable enemies.

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