What to do with Deserters

mssEC_27_348 - ny deserters caught.jpg

310 P June
Port Tobacco “
Maj Eckert
I just stopped
a couple of [deletion]desterters[/deletion] deserters
63rd NY Regiment & had sheriff
lock them up in Jail. What
shall be done with em. We
cant spare rations for them &
the town wont Keep them too
much sympathy. Answer
C Webber

This telegram takes an emotionally charged issue, desertion by soldiers, and demonstrates that even with the feelings of abandonment and betrayal left aside, there are incredibly mundane problems at work as well. It’s all well and good to catch deserters, but who becomes responsible for feeding and housing them? The telegraph operators certainly weren’t equipped to do so, and clearly the locals were being uncooperative.

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