Military Procedures & Events--Military discharges



Military discharges are formal notices issued to members of the armed forces confirming that they are formally released from their obligation to serve. During the American Civil War, soldiers and officers were honorably discharged from service for a variety of reasons, including severe injuries or diseases, resignation, or their unit mustering out, among other reasons. Those who were honorably discharged were eligible to reenlist or receive veterans' benefits after the war. (Wikipedia)

The end of the Civil War, which began with the surrender of Confederate forces at Appomattox Court House in April 1865, led to the largest number of military discharges. Once captured, Confederate forces became prisoners of war and parole did not formally discharge them from Confederate armies. As Union and Confederate troops demobilized, authorities moved to formally discharge troops. On June 6, 1865, U.S. President Andrew Johnson ordered the discharge of most remaining Confederate prisoners of war, a process that took two months to complete. For the significant number of soldiers who returned home without going through formal discharge processes, they had difficulty proving they had been honorably discharged from the military, which was a core requirement for many veterans' benefits and membership in veterans' associations. (Caroline E. Janney, Ends of War, p. 217)

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