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Pillage.—Pillage is now forbidden even when places are taken by assault. Requisitions and contributions have taken the place of pillage in all well-ordered and disciplined forces.'
Hostages.—In modern times hostages have been seized as a species of retaliation, and held until reparation has been made or offenders surrendered for trial. They have been used for the protection of railway trains, etc. In 1862 General Rosseau, of the United States Army, while commanding in Alabama, found great trouble from the killing of loyal citizens by lawless persons firing into railway trains, and “ordered that the preachers and leading men of the churches (not exceeding twelve in number) in and about Huntsville, who have been active secessionists, be arrested and kept in custody, and that one of them be detailed each day and placed on board the train running by way of Athens, and taken to Elk River and back, and that a like detail be made and taken to Stevenson and back."
In 1870, under somewhat similar circumstances, the German military authorities required that railway trains on a French railway should be accompanied by well-known and respected inhabitants of the town en route who should be placed upon the engine and held as hostages to ensure the trains from attack or interruption by francs tireurs, etc.
Spies.—“A spy,” says Winthrop, “is a person who, without authority and secretly, or under a false pretext, contrives to enter within the lines of an army for the purpose of obtaining material information and communicating it to the enemy; or one who, being by authority within the line, attempts secretly to accomplish such purpose. The information is commonly such as relates to the numbers or resources of the enemy the state of his defenses, the positions of his forces, military or naval, and the like."
? Laws and Customs of War. See Appendix.
By the articles for the government of the navy it is directed that punishment for a spy is “ death or such other punishment as a court martial may adjudge." By Section 1343 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, any persons lurking or acting as spies in or about the armies of the United States or elsewhere, shall be triable by a general court martial and shall, on conviction thereof, suffer death. By the law of nations the crime of spy is punishable with death, after trial. In most cases during our late war the form of death was by hanging. Women, who are especially qualified to act as spies on account, as Winthrop says, of “the natural subtlety of their sex,” were in some instances sentenced to be hung as spies, though in their case this punishment was rarely, if ever, enforced. A spy who returns to his own army and is subsequently captured is treated as a prisoner of war only.
In closing this topic it is well to note that the extreme punishment attached to the spy is not on account of the depravity of his acts, but that on account of the secrecy and fraud connected therewith it may readily expose a military. or naval force, without warning, to the greatest disaster. A spy is necessarily a volunteer, and when, with full knowledge of the consequences and from patriotic motives alone, he exposes himself to such imminent danger for the public good, he and his memory is worthy to be held in the highest honor by his fellow countrymen. Such a spy was Nathan Hale of Revolutionary fame.
Use of flags.—The proper use of flags and emblems is a matter of consequence in international law, as well as in military and civil life. In hostilities, a flag, when displayed, is an evidence of the nationality of the forces engaged, and that those who use the regimental or national colors are of the national forces of the country.
8 See Appendix.
To use false colors is a more serious offense against international law on land than upon sea. By the code established in 1907 at the Second Hague Conference it is forbidden to make improper use of the national standard, military ensigns or enemy's uniform, as well as the distinctive badges of the Geneva Convention.
On ships of war it has been permissible to use foreign flags to deceive an enemy, but the tendency is against such practice. As a man-of-war cannot be searched or examined to discover her identity, she should not have the privilege of using false colors. The regulations of the United States Navy require that under no circumstances shall an action be fought without the display of the proper national flags.
Flag of truce.-A flag of truce is the well-known square white flag, and is used for a parley between opposing forces. International law extends its protection around this flag and to any duly authorized persons carrying it. The protection is extended to all of the necessary accompanying persons, such as the bearer or flag-carrier, a trumpeter, bugler or drummer, and an interpreter, besides the officer who is to make the parley.
Admission to the opposing lines by the party carrying this flag cannot be claimed as a right. The commander of the forces to whom the flag is sent may, if he chooses, give general notice to the other belligerent that he will not receive any flags of truce, or none within a certain period, or except at certain places; or he may warn off any particular flag of truce; but without such warning or notice, to fire upon a flag of truce, or to offer any violence to the bearer, is an offense against the rules of war subjecting the offenders to the most summary punishment.
In 1827, in Navarino Bay, the firing upon an English boat carrying a flag of truce by a Turkish man-of-war, which killed an officer in the boat, brought on the naval battle of Navarino, which in turn led to the destruction of the Turkish fleet and to the independence of Greece. A flag of truce being admitted, precautions may be taken, of course, by blindfolding or otherwise, to prevent improper advantage being taken. A bearer of the flag is also bound to act in good faith; if he should in any way abuse the confidence of the receiving force he loses his privileges and may be detained and tried for violation of the laws of war. If he should, for instance, excite officers or soldiers to desert, or purchase plans, or attempt secret communication he may in extreme cases be held and executed as a spy.
The use of the white flag of truce has sometimes extended beyond the ordinary use as prescribed by the laws of war.
“To show the white flag " has been considered a readiness to surrender, and during our Civil War, and even farther back, has been used as a mark of capitulation. During the Civil War at times bodies of Confederates marched over to the Union side with a display of white flags in their muskets. In such cases the irregularity of its use was waived.
In 1652, during a naval engagement between the English and Dutch fleets, a narrator quaintly says, “We did very good execution on them, and some of their ships that had lost all their masts struck their colors and put out a white handkerchief on a staff, and hauled in all their guns."
Exemption of coast and food fisheries.—A matter which has now been entirely settled is the exemption of coast fisheries. It has not been the rule, however, to disturb innocent fishermen or their boats along the sea or lake coasts. There have been circumstances, however, which seemed to justify such destruction.
In the early English and Dutch wars, when it was determined to lay such stress upon Holland and the Dutch as to bring them to terms, such measures of destruction were adopted. The Dutch herring fishery was considered so vital
to that country that its destruction followed as a measure of
Three hundred and sixty thousand Dutch people, at that time, depended upon this herring fishery for their subsistence. Amsterdam, the principal city of Holland, according to the old Dutch proverb, was built upon herrings alone.
In 1798 and 1801 the British Government ordered the capture of French fishing craft to prevent their use by Napoleon in his proposed invasion of England. But however justifiable these cases may be, the destruction of fishing craft, as a rule, the ordinary tools of livelihood of a poor class of people, equivalent to the ploughs and implements of the farmer, is neither humane nor ordinarily justifiable by the results obtained.