Military Procedures & Events--Military elections



Military elections were a common practice within volunteer and militia units of both the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War, a tradition with its roots going back to the Revolutionary War. These elections took place at the company and regimental levels. Company officers were elected by the unit’s soldiers, and in turn, these company officers elected the regiment’s Colonel, Lt. Colonel, and Majors. Officially, Governors had the authority to appoint a Colonel to command a regiment but usually deferred to the officer elected by the regiment's men. Often, these elections put men without military experience or otherwise unqualified to lead their units into battle with disastrous outcomes. Also, junior officers found it difficult to enforce military discipline as they were beholden to the soldiers for their position, which they could be voted out of.

Union and Confederate authorities sought to limit the detrimental effects of these officer elections. On July 22, 1861, the day after the Union loss at the First Battle of Bull Run, the United States Congress authorized an examination board for officers. Many were deemed unfit and removed, while others resigned. The Confederate Congress established a similar board on October 13, 1862. Military elections continued during the war but to a lesser extent due to government oversight on both sides. They eventually ended in favor of ensuring qualified officers were put in command positions. (James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era; Public Laws of the Confederate States of America, 1862 Public Laws, S2, 85-87; Wikipedia)

See also:

Related Subjects

Related subjects

The graph displays the other subjects mentioned on the same pages as the subject "Military Procedures & Events--Military elections". If the same subject occurs on a page with "Military Procedures & Events--Military elections" more than once, it appears closer to "Military Procedures & Events--Military elections" on the graph, and is colored in a darker shade. The closer a subject is to the center, the more "related" the subjects are.