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The Limits of LoyaltyOrdinary People in Civil War Mississippi$
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Jarret Ruminski

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781496813961

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2019

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496813961.001.0001

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“Prey to Thieves and Robbers”

“Prey to Thieves and Robbers”

Desertion, Exemption, and the Limits of Military Loyalty Enforcement

(p.107) Chapter Four “Prey to Thieves and Robbers”
The Limits of Loyalty

Jarret Ruminski

University Press of Mississippi

Chapter 4 examines deserters and absentees who unleashed waves of crime and violence in Mississippi, as well as soldiers and civilians who requested military exemptions under the pretence that they could better serve the Confederacy in a civilian capacity. Despite scholarly claims that Confederates deserted to protect hearth and home, Mississippians clearly distinguished home from nation. This chapter connects desertion to banditry that harked back to the Revolutionary War, when wartime chaos drove detached military units to embrace opportunistic collective violence and commit criminal acts. The collapse of Mississippi’s social order spurred Confederate deserters to engage in opportunistic collective violence sustained by pre-existing group loyalties. Yet the war also created new gang loyalties, which expanded outside of partisan boxes. Soldiers also demonstrated the importance of pre-war attachments through shirking, absenteeism, and exemptions, which civilians encouraged and supported.

Keywords:   Desertion, Opportunistic Collective Violence, Banditry, Exemption, Social Order

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