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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Sun., Dec. 23, 2012, midnight

From our archives, 100 years ago

Seven U.S. Army deserters turned themselves in at Fort George Wright over the last four days.

None of them had actually deserted from Fort Wright – they had disappeared from posts in San Francisco, Montana and Missouri. 

So why did they turn themselves in at Fort Wright? Because it was near Canada, where most of them had sought refuge until cold and poverty forced them back to the U.S.

“The approach of winter is usually the signal for the return of summer deserters,” according to Army officials. They were “pinched with hunger and with small prospect of finding satisfactory work.”

Every deserter was a white soldier, authorities said, even though they turned themselves in at a post occupied by black troops.  Fort George Wright was manned by two battalions of the 25th Infantry, a famous black regiment. Those battalions were now making preparations for transport in 1913 to a new post in the Hawaiian Islands.

However, the seven deserters were facing a less-pleasant prospect. They faced court-martial and sentences of up to three years in federal prison.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1823: The poem “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously in the Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel. More popularly known as “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” it was later attributed to Clement C. Moore.

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