War, Rules of, a code of instructions for the government of armies during hostilities. The instructions for the armies of the United States are contained in "General Orders No. 100" issued April 24, 1863, and reissued in May, 1898. These instructions, originally prepared for the United States armies alone and in the midst of the Civil War, were found to be so comprehensive that they were adopted by both France and Prussia in the war between them, and were the basis on which a general European conference afterward acted in drawing up an agreement on this subject. They cover almost ever conceivable feature of military conduct and usage in time of war, and define many technical terms. The instructions embrace 10 sections, viz.:
Section 1.--Martial law, military jurisdiction; military necessity, retaliation. Section 2.--Public and private property of the enemy, protection of persons, and especially of women; of religion, the arts and sciences, punishment of crimes against the inhabitants of hostile countries. Section 3.--Deserters, prisoners of war, hostages, booty on the battlefield. Section 4.--Partisans, armed enemies not belonging to the hostile army, scouts, armed prowlers, war rebels. Section 5.--Safe conduct, spies, war traitors, captured messengers, abuse of the flag of truce. Section 6.--Exchange of prisoners, flags of truce, flags of protection. Section 7.--The parole. Section 8.--Armistice, capitulation. Section 9.--Assassination. Section 10.--Insurrection, civil war, rebellion.
The following is a summary of the most important instructions: Military necessity admits of all direct destruction of life or limb of "armed" enemies and of other persons whose destruction is incidentally "unavoidable" in the armed contests of war. Military necessity does not admit of cruelty -- that is, the infliction of suffering for the sake of suffering or for revenge, or of maiming or wounding, except in fight, nor of torture to extort confessions. It admits of deception, but disclaims acts of perfidy. It is lawful to starve the hostile belligerents, armed or unarmed, so that it leads to the speedier subjection of the enemy. When a commander of a besieged place expels the noncombatants, in order to lessen the number of those who consume his stock of provisions, it is lawful, though an extreme measure, to drive them back, so as to hasten the surrender. Commanders, whenver admissible, inform the enemy of their intention to bombard a place, but it is no infraction of the common law of war to omit thus to inform them. Surprise may be a necessity.
Retaliation will never be resorted to as a measure of pure revenge, but only as a means of protective retribution, and, moreover, cautiously and unavoidably -- that is to say, retaliation shall only be resorted to after careful inquiry into the real occurrence and the character of the misdeeds that may demand retribution. The more vigorously war is pursued, the better it is for humanity. Sharp wars are brief. A victorious army appropriates all public money, seizes all public movable property till further directed by its government, and sequesters for its own benefit or that of its government, all the revenues of real property belonging to the hostile government or nation. The title to such real property remains in abeyance during military occupation, and till the conquest is made complete. The United States acknowledges and protects, in hostile countries occupied by them, religion and morality, strictly private property, the persons of inhabitants, especially those of women, and the sacredness of domestic relations.
Deserters from the American army, having entered the service of the enemy, suffer death if they fall into the hands of the United States. It is against the usage of modern war to resolve in hatred and revenge to give no quarter. Outposts, sentinels, or pickets are not to be fired on except to drive them in, or when a positive order, special or general, has been issued to that effect. Whoever intentionally inflicts additional wounds on an enemy already wholly disabled, or kills him, or orders that this shall be done, shall suffer death if convicted. Martial law is explained as simply military authority exercised in accordance with the laws and usages of war. A place, district, or country occupied by an enemy stands, in consequence of the occupation, under the martial law of the invading or occupying army. It extends to property and to persons, whether they are subjects of the enemy or aliens to that government. Whenver feasible, martial law is carried out in cases of individual offenders by military courts, but sentence of death shall be executed only with the approval of the chief executive, provided the urgency of the case does not require a speedier execution, and then only with the approval of the chief commander. Martial law should be less stringent in places in countries fully occupied and fairly conquered.
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.