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Discipline Ledger

The 1888-1899 Discipline Ledger of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers-Northwestern Branch chronicles violations of the Home rules and disciplinary proceedings. The primary offenses were for drunkenness, bring absent without leave and “fence jumping.” While the Home included a guardhouse, it  was seldom used, the primary punishments being labor, which could be commuted at a rate of 20 cents per day, and forfeiture of pass privileges.

This is the only Discipline ledger; no others have been found. See examples below. Names of the offenders have been removed.

"The Dump"
When the Governor was away, or was bored by routine, Papa [Richard Corbett] held court in his stead. Papa summed up his judicial procedure to his family, “I’m not too hard on the men for being drunk. You don’t know what you’d do yourself, if you were an old man, and lived under the circumstances that they do. But when I have a man up before me for refusing to take a bath, I always soak him properly. That’s not a pun. I always give him the limit.”

The unbathed was not only bathed by force; Papa would sentence him to “thirty days on the dump,” while the mere inebriate got off with ten.

“The dump” existed for disciplinary purposes. It was a squad of offenders sentenced to unpaid labor; I suppose the idea was that they had been fined and were working out the fine.

Their tasks consisted principally of tidying up the Grounds and of putting in ice. Wherever large cakes went in, a pulley system was provided. To lift a hun­dred-pound cake required the services of from six to nine men on the other end of the rope. To sweep the dust out of a gutter would take the whole “dump” half a day. It wasn’t hard labor; but it was enforced labor. And of course there was a certain amount of derision connected with “being on the dump.”

Elizabeth Corbett, Out at the Soldiers' Home



Report of an Inspection of the Northwestern Branch, August 1896
“Discipline is maintained by the non-commissioned officers and the Home police….One-half of all offenses committed are due to drink, and one-sixth absence without leave. The punishments attached comprise labor from ten to sixty days and forfeiture of pass privileges; and for incorrigibles, dishonorable discharge. …”

Report of an Inspection of the Northwestern Branch, August 1897
“Discipline is decidedly improved in view of the many temptations surrounding the outlets of the Home. Every day a company captain is detailed as officer of the day, who inspects all parts of the buildings and grounds and reports all violators of the Home rules, or has them arrested if necessary. Members who break the rules usually lose their pass privileges for a longer or shorter period; and for repeated or grave offenses they may be sentenced to do police or other duty about the camp or are reported to the president of the Board of Managers for discharge from the Home.”

Report of an Inspection of the Northwestern Branch, August 1898
“Breaches of discipline consist almost exclusively of drunkenness, absence without leave, and fence jumping and these seem to be the principal evils that the officer here and at other Homes have to contend with. None of the members were confined during the year, the sentences imposed being labor without pay for varying periods, which may be commuted at the rate of 20 cents per day. The moneys accruing from this source amounted to $147.85…”



 Sample of Records in the Book of Discipline

____, late of Co H 6th Ohio Vols
November 12, 1888
Drunk and disorderly. Loud talking after 10 P.M. Nov 11th, 1888. Confined to Guard House, 10 days labor

____, D 51 Wis Vols
June 16, 1894
AWOL from qrs June 8 to 15 and jumping the fence in defiance of orders placing the camp in a state of semi-quarantine, 100 days in dump

____, late Co D, 158th NY Vols
June 20, 1889
Drunk in Billiard Room, and when ordered to his qrs, went to the Dancing Pavilion, and when ordered to his qrs from there, he commenced abusing the Prov. Serg’t, calling him a son of a bitch, &c. Confined to Guard House at 11:10 A.M., June 19, 1889, 20 days labor

____, late Co E, 27th Wis Vols
March 5, 1889
Keeping dirty clothes in his wardrobe, with vermin on them, and turning a pair of drawers in to the laundry to be washed: full of vermin, 5 days labor./

July 12, 1889
Threatening to strike acting Ward Master Simpson and Patrolman Anderson with broom handle. Confined to Guard House at 5:30 P.M., July 12, 1889. Relieved from duty.

____, G 18 NY Cav
March 7, 1896
Failing to bathe for 2 weeks after being notified, 15 days dump

____, late Co G 10th NY Cav
October 6, 1889
Disposing of a pair of government shoes

____, late Co. I, 29th Wis Vols
March 11, 1889
Drunk and boisterous in basement of Main Building, and abusing Patrolman Kennedy for asking him to keep quiet, 6:30 p.m., March 10, confined to Guard House, 10 days labor
May 6, 1890
Drunk and trying to set fire to Guard House by filling one of W.J. Armour’s shoes with paper and concealing it in water closet and setting it on fire. 12:10 a.m., May 6, 1890

____, late Co F 95th NY Vols
March 10, 1889
Returning from furlough drunk and going into kitchen to help himself to lunch without permission, between 8 and 9 P.M., March 8, 1889, getting out of the Guard House, among the lodgers on the morning of March 9 through mistake. Reconfined same morning at 11:45, drunk, 10 days labor

____, D 19 Wis Inf
July 19, 1902
Arrested May 2, 1902, by civil authorities and held for trial by Municipal Court of Milwaukee, Wis. For larceny – found guilty on the 30 days of June 1902 and sentenced to six months in the House of Correction. Recommended for dishonorable discharge.

____, late Co D 16th Wis Vols
April 27, 1890
Coming from the outside drunk, refused admission to Beer Hall and forced his way in, being put out created a disburbance on porch. When ordered to Guard House, he ran away 6:00 P.M. Apr 25 and confined to Guard House next morning. 10 days labor.

Jan 30, 1892
Interfering with the agent of Cream City Brewing Co and tearing the sleeve of the sergt’s shirt while putting him out of the Beer Hall, Jan 29. 10 days Guard House and 10 days labor.

____, late H 47 Ill Vols
August 18, 1889
Appearing on inspection August 18, 1889, in a pair of blue trousers in violation of the rules of the Home. 5 days labor.

____, late Co H 23rd Ill Vols
Feb 2, 1892
Having all the beer that was good for him and having over $40. Sent him to Guard House for safe keeping Feb. 1. Not to leave grounds for 30 days.

____, A 157 NY Vols
March 10, 1893
Visiting a saloon outside Home grounds while on duty as a night roundsman, coming in drunk and sleeping in basement Main Building on the night of March 9. 60 days dump, relieved from duty

____, late Co. B, 1st Mich SS
Nov 30, 1891
Being totally incorrigible, AWOL 5 times since July 30, 1891, from 10 to 20 days, absenting himself “deliberately” from Sunday’s Inspection, after positive orders to attend Nov 29, 1891. 30 days labor. Next offence recommended for dishonorable discharge.

____, B 7 Kansas Cav.
June 18, 1896
Exciting religious ill feeling in qrs

____, late Co. K 37th Wis Vols
September 19, 1889
Having 1 teaspoon in his wardrobe belonging to Dining Room

____, Co D 17th Wis Vols
October 23, 1891
Insulting Nurse in Ward C by attempting to embrace her October 22, 30 days labor

____, 24 NY Cav
May 25, 1898
Disloyal and treasonable utterances to the prejudice of the good order and discipline of the Home. Dishonorable discharge

____, H 9th Ill Cav
June 23, 1892
Destroying vegetables and shirking work while on detail in vegetable room in Hospital, June 23. Transferred to Co. Q

____, D 11 Wis Vols
Jan 22, 1895
Taking the late John Gibbons watch from his bed or clothing after death at 4 A.M., Jan 21, and retaining it until 2 P.M. the same day. Recommended for dishonorable discharge.

____, late I 11 Wis Cav.
July 17, 1889
Breaking a pane of glass and filling John Hoefman’s boots with water, July 14, 1889.

____, July 21, 1897
Using insolent language to the Gov. and when told to desist, refusing to do so and using foul abusive and obscure language in the presence of a large number of ladies and children. Was but slightly under the influence of beer. Claims he was not drunk. There was no excuse for his conduct. Recommended for dishonorable discharge.

____, late A, 99 NY vols
August 16, 1889
Engaging in a row with Don McMillan near Eagle Cage at 6 P.M., Aug 15, Confined to Guard House.

____, I 45th Wis Vols
July 28, 1890
Careless driving, tearing out the supports of Fire Escape at Mem. Hall, while hauling Ice to Home Store, July 26, 1890. 50 cent fine.

____, late F 33rd NY Vols
August 28, 1889
Sitting on railing of front porch Co G Qrs Aug 26, 1889

____, late G 17th Wis
March 10, 1891
Locked up at his own request to sober up, Mar 9, 1981

____, K 71 Pa Vols
Nov 18 1895
AWOL from qrs since October 25 and still absent. Misappropriation and applying to his own use $62.12 more or less of the funds of the Captains and Clerks Mess which he had collected and held as treasurer of said Mess as shown by his books on examination of the same by investigation committee between Sept 14 and October 14, 1895. Recommended for dishonorable discharge.

____, I 24 Wis Vols
April 6, 1900
Not having his dress coat and best trousers on at time of inspection Oct 7. 5 days dump.

____, H 38th Mass Vol
July 10, 1891
Insolent to Patrolmen, saying there was not enough on the force to arrest him, July 9, 1891. Suspended.
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