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Desertion

PROCLAMATION OFFERING PARDON TO DESERTERS,
MARCH II, 1865.

By The President Of The United States Of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the twenty-first section of the act of Congress, approved on the 3d instant, entitled "An Act to amend the several acts heretofore passed to provide for the enrolling and calling out the national forces and for other purposes," requires that in addition to the other lawful penalties of the crime of desertion from the military or naval service, all persons who have deserted the military or naval service of the United States who shall not return to said service or report themselves to a provost-marshal within sixty days after the proclamation hereinafter mentioned, shall be deemed and taken to have voluntarily relinquished and forfeited their citizenship and their right to become citizens, and such deserters shall be forever incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under the United States, or of exercising any rights of citizens thereof; and all persons who shall hereafter desert the military or naval service, and all persons who, being duly enrolled, shall depart the jurisdiction of the district in which they are enrolled, or go beyond the limits of the United States with intent to avoid any draft into the military or naval service duly ordered, shall be liable to the penalties of this section; and the President is hereby authorized and required forthwith, on the passage of this act, to issue his proclamation setting forth the provisions of this section, in which proclamation the President is requested to notify all deserters returning within sixty days as aforesaid that they shall be pardoned on condition of returning to their regiments and companies, or to such other organizations as they may be assigned to, until they shall have served for a period of time equal to their original term of enlistment:

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do issue this my proclamation as required by said act, ordering and requiring all deserters to return to their proper posts; and I do hereby notify them that all deserters who shall within sixty days from the date of this proclamation, viz., on or before the i0th day of May, 1865, return to service or report themselves to a provost-marshal, shall be pardoned on condition that they return to their regiments or companies or to such other organization as they may be assigned to, and serve the remainder of their original terms of enlistment, and in addition thereto a period equal to the time lost by desertion.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this eleventh day of March, in the year of our [seal] Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-five, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

Abraham Lincoln.

By the President:

     William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

See also the Vermont Supreme Court case related to bounties for deserters.