Use of Federal Troops in Civil Disturbances 1892-1968
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This study examines and evaluates the use of regular army forces in quelling civil disturbances within the United States. The term civil disturbance is defined as excluding Indian wars, western frontier violence and all incidents prior to the passage of the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878, which forbade the use of federal troops as routine civil law enforcers. The incidents range from the Coeur 'd'Alene Idaho incident to the race riots of 1968 and many are well known to anyone familiar with American history. The major concern of the study was the examination of each incident as a backdrop to the role played by federal military forces in civil disturbance. To accomplish this goal a record of each incident was presented offering data on the units involved, biographies of some of the military leaders, the level of violence and the fatalities inflicted and sustained by the troops. In addition to the examination of the objective data, four of the incidents were reexamined with the goal of exploring the emotional and psychological reactions of different Americans to the commitment of regular military forces to quell domestic disorder. The conclusions arrived at as a result of this study were mixed. An examination of the objective historical record revealed a consistent tendency on the part of the regular military forces to act in a restrained and nonprovocative manner. On the other hand the emotional reactions of various people to the sight of combat ready soldiers enforcing civil law has been at best over-reaction and at worst panic. This study concludes that the deployment of regular military forces into a domestic civil disturbance usually does not lead to overaction and repression. It also reveals the real danger of such a commitment lies in the perceptions of various individuals and groups.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Topology -- A subjective analysis