GDG- Dead soldiers and looting

Matt Diestel agatematt at gmail.com
Wed Jan 11 20:20:24 CST 2012


> Esteemed GDG Member David Ward Contributes:
>


> From what I understand, it was common practice for soldiers to take what
> they needed from the dead. To some extent, the practice is still going on.
> But in this day and age, it probably limited to ammunition. Clothing and
> everything else is in good supply with our modern military.
>
>  Dave Ward
>
>     Traditionally --- and continuing up until today --- there are two
types of, for want of a better word, "looting" of the fallen enemy.
     The first is the one of military necessity --- the searching of bodies
for documents  (wallets, letters, photos and, of course, official documents
such as orders, maps etc.) -- along with anything that could loosely be
surmised as of military value..
   The second is the taking of personal items off a dead body for souvenir
or necessary purposes which certainly can roam through an almost endless
range of items large and small that might catch a soldier's interest and
fancy. Indeed, here and there a fallen soldier's family --- North and South
--- in the 1880s and 1890s to receive a packet in the mail from a former
enemy containing items taken off the family members dead body so many years
before.
    Also, it was a common practice that --- out of necessity --- corpses be
"looted" by the opposing forces for items of clothing such as brogans,
boots and, certainly in winter, great coats etc.
    To move away from the Civil War to the Revolution for a moment, there
were many personal references of the looting of the Loyalists killed at
King's Mountain, for example (Along with American soldiers urinating on the
body of the fallen British commander.)
     Part of the looting --- past and present --- may simply be the work of
opportunists, but another factor may simply be that death is so common that
the needs of the living had to be served even if the quartermaster was the
bodies of the enemy.
                  With regards,
                        Chet


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