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One who abandons his post; as, a soldier who abandons the public service without leave; or a sailor who abandons a ship when he has engaged to serve.


An offence which consists in the abandonment of the public service, in the army or navy, without leave.

The Act of March 16, 1802, enacts that if any non-commissioned officer, musician, or private shall desert the service of the United Staies, he shall, in addition to the penalties mentioned in the rules and articles of war, be liable to serve for and during such period as shall, with the time he may have served previous to his desertion, amount to the full term of his enlistment; and such soldier shall and may be tried by a court-martial and punished, although the term of his enlistment may have elapsed previous to his being apprehended or tried.

By the articles of war, it is enacted that 'any non-commissioned officer or soldier who shall, without leave from his commanding officer, absent himself from his troop, company, or detachment, shall, upon being convicted thereof, be punished according to the nature of his offence, at the discretion of a court-martial.'

By the articles for the government of the navy, it is enacted, that 'if any person in the navy shall desert to an enemy, or rebel, he shall suffer death;' and 'if any person in the navy shall desert, or shall entice others to desert, he shall suffer death, or such other punishmemt as a court-martial shall adjudge.'

Torts. The act by which a man abandons his wife and children, or either of them.

On proof of desertion, the courts possess the power to grant the Wife or such children as have been deserted, alimony.