Confederate Military Law … and inserts

One recently-cataloged (as in ‘earlier this week’) item in our collection is The judge advocate’s vade mecum : embracing a general view of military law, and the practice before courts martial, with an epitome of the law of evidence, as applicable to military trials / by C.H. Lee. Richmond : West and Johnston, 1863 (and copyright 1862). 

By itself, it’s ‘merely’ an interesting Confederate publication (published in Richmond, but printed in Charleston, SC by Evans & Cogswell) about their military law system.  What makes our copy special is that pasted into the front on pages 3, 4, and 5 are manuscript notes signed by Major Mason Morfit, Quartermaster CSA, for the disbursal of large amounts of corn on April 3 and 4, 1865.  These requisition slips for 24, 360, and 36 pounds of corn were signed in the week before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. 

Morfit was, at various times, quartermaster in charge of Confederate prisons in Richmond and Danville, VA, and in Salisbury, NC.  Though a lawyer before the war, he enlisted as a private and rose through the ranks to become a major.  Afterwards Morfit refused to sign the oath pledging never to take up arms against the Union, so he was not allowed to resume his legal career.  He died in 1921 at his son’s home in Webster Groves (suburban St. Louis), MO.

A further interesting note: written across the top of the title page are the words “5th Ohio Cavalry”.  That raises the question of whether someone from that unit confiscated this volume.  slrare call number: 343.01 L51 1863.

Published in: on 25 January 2008 at 9:29 am  Comments (1)  

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