Tuesday, August 9, 2016
The Cheyenne State Leader for August 9, 1916. The Inglorious Reappearance of Pvt Dilley?
It seems that Pvt. Dilley's circumstances were not quite as tragic as reported yesterday.
A person has to wonder a bit about his fate, assuming he was tracked down and arrested. His desertion came at that point in time at which the Army was evolving from the Frontier Army practice, in which 1/3d of the enlisted men went AWOL or deserted annually, and which the offense was not too seriously worried about unless the departing troops took equipment with them, to one which would regard this as a much more serious matter. And, to add to it, when conscription came for World War One public sentiments were so strong that in some areas a man of military age could not walk for more than a couple of blocks without being accosted by citizens wondering if they were shirking their duty. Young women, in fact, were particularly zealous in offering offense to men who appeared to be less than enthusiastic about military service. Pvt. Dilley's actions may have had implications he didn't consider at the time.
Assuming, of course, that he had deserted. Which perhaps, he had not. He never reappeared, in spite of having family and friends in the state. His father was certain that he'd been murdered, which he may very well have been.
If he left service without discharge, he certainly wasn't the only one to attempt it. Disciplinary problems were a huge factor with the Wyoming Guard, including desertions, which were not all that uncommon. As we've seen, going AWOL was fairly common as well, at least in the context of briefly leaving to marry.
On other matters, 2ar was in the air, with the Guard being inspected and the paper contemplating what war with Mexico might mean, which apparently meant war with Japan. Odd to see that speculated on in this context.
Love was also in the air, and yet another Guardsman went AWOL to elope, something that seems to have been a regular occurrence.