1862: An unknown Confederate deserter

1 comment December 19th, 2009 Headsman

From a letter written by one Private Thomas Warrick of Alabama, cited in The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy by Bell Irvin Wiley:

I saw a site today that made me feel mity Bad I saw a man shot for deserting there was twenty fore Guns shot at him thay shot him all to pease … he went home and thay Brote him Back and then he went home again and so they shot him for that Martha it was one site that I did hate to see it But I could not helpe my self I had to do Jest as thay sed for me to doo.

This unknown soldier shot “all to pease” had just run afoul of Gen. Braxton Bragg‘s draconian anti-desertion policy meant to crack down on soldiers going AWOL for casual leave, often to help the families they had left behind keep up the farm.

As Wiley points out, our letter-writer Private Warrick was himself planning to do just that.

Bragg’s little salutary bloodbath evidently had its effect, because he didn’t go AWOL. Wiley quotes Warrick, now in a more Joe Friday mode than when he had promised to “come home Eny how”, writing his parents in 1864,

I would be glad to see you all now but I recon that I have bin home my last time till this war closes.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Capital Punishment,Confederates,Death Penalty,Desertion,Execution,History,Known But To God,Military Crimes,Separatists,Shot,Soldiers,Tennessee,USA,Wartime Executions

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1948: Amir Sjarifuddin

2 comments December 19th, 2007 Headsman

On this date in 1948, leftist former Indonesian Prime Minister Amir Sjarifuddin was summarily executed by forces of the infant Indonesian Republic for his participation in an attempted coup d’etat three months before.

A Dutch-educated Communist politician who had adhered to an anti-fascist “common front” position, Sjarifuddin was a vigorous activist against the Japanese occupation during World War II — and lucky to avoid execution for it.

Indonesia’s declaration of independence following the war sparked the National Revolution, during which Sjarifuddin emerged a leading player of the left as rival factions maneuvered against each other within Indonesia under pressure from the Dutch colonial power looking to reassemble its old dominions.

Sjarifuddin briefly served as the fledgling state’s second prime minister, but resigned in January 1948 after an unpopular diplomatic foray to calm tensions with the Dutch. His support for a botched and premature revolt by Communist officers in September sealed his end as a political factor and eviscerated left influence in the revolution, confining the latter’s character to an essentially nationalist one.

The rising’s suggestion of internal division may also have encouraged the Dutch incursion into Java on this date. There was a touch of poetic justice if that was the case: Republican troops, melting away from superior firepower for an insurgency campaign, opted to execute Sjarifuddin and about 50 other captured leftists before retreating rather than free them.

According to George Kahin, Sjarifuddin rendered with his death one last service to his nationalist — if not his Communist — ambitions:

[O]nce the [Indonesian] government … had put down the [September] rebellion and shot its leaders, it was no longer possible for the Dutch to make American officials and the US Congress believe — as previously many of them had — that most leaders of the Republic were under strong Communist influence and that their government was providing a bridge to an ultimately Communist Indonesia.

Its Marshall Plan aid threatened, the Netherlands recognized Indonesian independence in 1949.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Borderline "Executions",Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Heads of State,History,Indonesia,Mass Executions,Netherlands,No Formal Charge,Occupation and Colonialism,Politicians,Power,Revolutionaries,Shot,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Treason,Wartime Executions

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