Don't Shoot That Boy! Abraham Lincoln and Military Justice
In this groundbreaking study based on almost 600 documents in Lincoln's own hand, the authors tell each story, each life-or-death decision, and the factors that tipped the balance one way or the other. In the midst of America's deadliest war, hundreds of men's lives hung on the decisions of President Lincoln. Lincoln balanced sternness and compassion while deciding the fate of men sentenced to be hanged or shot for crimes including desertion, spying, sabotage, murder, and rape. 1999, Da Capo Press, 320p.
During the Civil War, Lincoln reviewed roughly 1,100 court-martial decisions and made a note in his own hand on all of them. Most of the notes had not been previously cataloged, and were unknown to Lincoln scholars. Don't Shoot That Boy (re-issued by Bison Books as Abraham Lincoln and Military Justice) was published in 1999, before we had indexed the entire war; it covers the first half of the war.
Dr. Allen C. Guelzo, Dean of Templeton Honors College at Eastern College: The question of whether Lincoln really was the compassionate Father Abraham could only be settled by hard data, something which none of Lincoln’s biographers seem to have known where to find. Thomas Lowry did. A retired northern Virginia psychiatrist, Lowry worked through 37,000 Civil War-era army courts-martial records in the National Archives, and discovered that 792 of them bore a notation or endorsement by Lincoln, most of which were not itemized by Roy P. Basler’s standard Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953). These cases became Lowry’s statistical index to Lincoln’s compassion.