Deserting Washington's Army

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Pages: 7

Deserting Washington’s Army

With the Revolutionary War set to begin, the recruitment of soldiers was fully on. Reasons to enlist in the Continental Army were quite candid for numerous individuals. Motives ranged from looking for a fresh start to wanting to honor friendship/family, or even for the sole purpose of securing regular pay. Many looked to reap the benefits that were promised to them for enlisting in the army. As the Revolutionary War waged on for years to come, soldiers of the Continental Army continued to battle, not only the British, but the many hardships that came their way, as well. By 1780 the number of soldiers abandoning their posts/camps had greatly increased due the number of hardships they encountered. Even
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Many soldiers talked about the poor quality/non-existence of clothing and food. Some Continentals wore plundered British uniforms in order to stay warm, and even British officers went on to say that the American troops as were a “ragged dirty looking set of People.” Martin also cites a number of examples in which Joseph Plumb Martin talks of the poor quality of food and clothing. In context he says, “Here was the army starved and naked, and their country sitting still and expecting the army to do notable things while fainting from sheer starvation.” The quality of food and clothing was a strong reason to leave your post at that time, but so was the mistreatment at the hands of Commissioned officers. Soldiers discussed the fact that Commissioned officers demanded strict obedience from enlisted men, no matter the situation. One soldier talked of a time when he was made to wear a small sandwich board that said he was “A disobeyer of orders” after he verbally abused a superior, while another claimed to be used worse than beasts or hogs at home. Disease was also very common due to the close proximity soldiers resided amongst each other. An estimated 18,000 Continentals died of disease, for example smallpox. Desertion from the Continental Army was highly influenced by the poor quality of life soldier were made to live through (no food, no clothing, rampant disease such as smallpox) and their mistreatment by commanding officers was all the more push they got to