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Friday, 15 March 2013

Gotthold Frederick Enslin

Who was the first American soldier to be discharged for being gay? No, it wasn’t a modern day marine under DADT, but Lt Frederick Gotthold Enslin, in 1778.

From Wikipedia:
Frederick Gotthold Enslin was the focus of one of three possible cases of sodomy documented in the Continental Army under General George Washington. The case began with a charge against an ensign for slander against another soldier. At Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in February 1778, Ensign Anthony Maxwell was brought before a court-martial charged with "propogating a scandalous report prejudicial to the character of Lieutt. Enslin." The Ensign was ultimately acquitted of the charge. In March 1778, Lieut. Enslin was brought to trial before a court-martial. According to General Washington's report: "...Lieutt. Enslin of Colo. Malcolm's Regiment tried for attempting to commit Sodomy ..." Washington's secretary continues to describe the results of the trial in negative, descriptive terms: "His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence & Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieutt. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning...."
The diary of Lieut. James McMichael records the sentence being carried out on 15 Mar 1778: "March 15. — I this morning proceeded to the grand parade, where I was a spectator to the drumming out of Lieut. Enslin of Col. Malcom's regiment. He was first drum'd from right to left of the parade, thence to the left wing of the army; from that to the centre, and lastly transported over the Schuylkill with orders never to be seen in Camp in the future. This shocking scene was performed by all the drums and fifes in the army— the coat of the delinquent was turned wrong side out." (McMichael, p. 217)

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