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About Sergeant Walker

December 2023
1min read

Otto Friedrich replies: I am sorry to see that Mr. Garland seems to have learned nothing from my article, nor anything from the events of the past 25 years, or, for that matter, the past 125.

It is always distressing to encounter writing about earlier legal proceedings that reflects ignorance of the law then in effect. Otto Friedrich, discussing the 1864 trial of Sgt. William Walker by general court-martial, states, “For some mysterious reason Walker never testified in his own defense.”

That circumstance would not have been at all mysterious to anyone acquainted with the law that governed trials in 1864. For until Congress passed the Act of March 16, 1878, no person accused of any federal offense, whether civil or military, was ever permitted to testify on his own behalf.

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