Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field

General’s Orders, No:100

War Department, Adjutant General’s Office
Washington, April 24, 1863

The following “Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field” prepared by Fransic Lieber, LL. D., and revised by a board of Officers, of which Major General E. A. Hitschcock is president, having been approved by the President of the United States he commands that they be published for the information of all concerned.


Assistant Adjutant General


Martial Law – Military Jurisdiction -Military Neccessity – Retaliation

1. A place district, or country occupied by an enemy stands, in consequence of the occupation, under the Martial Law of he invading or occupying army, whether any proclamation declaring Martial Law, or any public warning to the inhabitants, has been issued or not. Martial law is the immediate, and direct effect and consequence of occupation and conquest.
The presence of a hostile army proclaims its Martial Law.


3.Martial law in a hostile country consists of the suspension, by the occupying military authority, of the criminal and civil law, and of the domestic administration and government in the occupied place or territory, as well as in the dictation of the general laws, as far as military necessity requires this suspension, substitution, or dictation.
4. Martial Law is simply military authority excersized in accordance with the laws and usage of war. Military oppression is not Martial Law; it is the abuse of the power which that law confers. As martial law is executed by military force, it is incumbent upon those who administer it, to be strictly guided by the principles of justice, honor, and humanity – virtues adorning a soldier even more than other men, for the very reason that he possesses the power of his arms against the unarmed.


14.Military necessity as understood by modern civilized nations, consists in the necessity of those measures which are indispensable for securing the ends of the war, and which are lawful according to the modern law and usages of war.
15. Military necessity admits all direct destruction of life and limb ofarmed enemies, and of other persons whose destruction is incidentallyunavoidable in the armed contests of the war; it allows the capturing of every armed enemy, and every enemy of importance to the hostile government, or of any peculiar danger to the captor; it allows all destruction of property, and obstruction of the ways and channels of traffic, travel, or communication, and of all withholding of sustenance or means of life from the enemy; of the appropriation of whatever and enemy’s country affords necessary for the subsistance and safety of the army (…) Men who take up arms against one another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings, responsible to each other and to God.
16. Military necessity does not admit of cruelty, that is the infliction of suffering for the sake of suffering or for revenge, nor of maiming or wounding except in fight, nor of torture to extort confessions. It does not admit of the use of poison in any way, nor of the wanton devastation of a district. It admits of deception, but disclaims acts of perfidy; and in general, military necessity does not include any act of hostility, which makes the return to peace unnecessarily difficult.
17. War is not carried by arms alone. It is lawful to starve the hostile belligerent, armed or unarmed, so that it leads to the speedier subjection of the enemy.


19. Commanders, whenever admissible, inform the enemy of their intention to bombard a place, so that the non-combatants, and especially the women and children, may be removed before the bombardment commences. But it is no infraction of the common law to omit thus to inform the enemy. Surprise may be a necessity.


21. The citizens or native of a hostile country is thus an enemy, as one of the constituents of the hostile state or nation, and as such is subjected to the hardships of the war.
22. Nevertheless, as civilization has advanced during the last centuries, so has likewise steadily advanced, especially in war on land, the distinction between the private individual belonging to a hostile country and the hostile country itself, with its men in arms. The principle has been more and more acknowledged that the unharmed citizen is to be spared in person, property, and honor as much as the exigencies of war will admit.
23. Private citizens are no longer murdered, enslaved or carried off to distant parts, and the inoffensive individual is as little disturbed in his private relations as the commander of the hostile troops can afford to grant the overruling demands of a vigorous war.
24. The almost universal rule in remote times was, and continues to be with barbarous armies, that the private individual of the hostile country is destined to suffer every privation of liberty and protection and every disruption of family ties. Protection was and still is with uncivilized people, the exception.
25. In modern regular wars of the Europeans, and their descendants in other parts of the Globe, protection of the inoffensive citizen of the hostile country is the rule; privation and disturbance of private relations are the exceptions.


29. Modern times are distinguished from earlier ages by the existence, at one and at the same time, of many nations, and great governments related to one another in close intercourse.
Peace is their normal condition; war is the exception. The ultimate object of all modern war is a renewed state of peace.
The more vigorously wars are pursued, the better it is for humanity. Sharp wars are brief.
30. Ever since the formation and coexistence of modern nations, and ever since wars have become great national wars, war has come to be acknowledged not to be its own end, but the means to obtain great ends of state, or to consist in defense against wrong; and no conventional restriction of the modes adopted to injure the enemy is any longer admitted; but the law of war imposes many limitations and restrictions on principles of justice, faith, and honor.


Public and private property of the enemy – Protection of persons, and especially women; of religion, the arts and sciences – Punishment of crimes against the inhabitants of hostile countries.

31. A victorious army appropriates all public money, seizes all public moveable property until further direction 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 until the conquest is made complete.


34. As a general rule, the property belonging to churches, to hospitals, or other establishments of education, or foundations for the promotion of knowledge, whether public schools, universities, academies of learning or observatories, museums of fine arts, or of a scientific character- such property is not to be considered public property in the sense of paragraph 31; but it may be taxed or used when the public service may require it.
35. Classical works of art, libraries, scientific collections, or precious instruments, such as astronomical telescopes, as well as hospitals, must be secured against all avoidable injury, even when they are contained in fortified places whilst besieged or bombarded.
36. Classical works of art, libraries, collections, or instruments belonging to a hostile nation or government, can be removed without injury, the ruler of the conquering state or nation may order them to be seized and removed for the benefit of the said nation. The ultimate ownership is to be settled by the ensuing treaty of peace.
In no case shall they be sold or given away, if captured by the armies of the United States, nor shall they ever be privately appropriated, or wantonly destroyed or injured.



Deserters – Prisoners of War – Hostages

48. Deserters from the American army, having entered the service of the enemy, suffer death if they fall again into the hands of the United States, whether by capture, or being delivered up to the American army; and if a deserter from the enemy, having taken service in the army of the United States, is captured by the enemy, and punished by them with death or otherwise, it is not a breach against the law and usages of war, requiring redress or retaliation.
49. A Prisoner of war is a public enemy armed or attached to the hostile army for active aid, who has fallen into the hands of the captor, either fighting or wounded, on the field or in the hospital, by individual surrender or by capitulation.
All soldiers, of whatever species of arms; all men who belong to the rising en masse of the hostile country; all those who are attached to the army for its efficiency and promote directly the object of the war, except such as are hereinafter provided for; all disabled men or officers on the field or elsewhere, if captured; all enemies who have thrown away their arms and ask for quarter, are prisoners of war, and as such exposed to the inconveniences as well as entitled to the priviledges of a prisoner of war.
50. Moreover, citizens who accompany an army for whatever purpose, such as sutlers, editors, or reporters of journals, or contractors, if captured, may be prisoners of war, and be detained as such.
51. If the people of that portion of an invaded country which is not yet occupied by the enemy, or of the whole country, at the approach of a hostile army, rise, under a duly authorized levy, en masse, to resist the invader, they are now treated as public enemies, and if captured are prisoners of war.


74. A prisoner of war, being a public enemy, is the prisoner of the government, and not of the captor. No ransom can be paid by a prisoner of war to his individual captor, or to any officer in command. The government alone releases captives, according to rules prescribed by itself.
75. Prisoners of war are subject to confinement or imprisonment such as may be deemed necessary on account of safety, but they are to be subjected to no other intentional suffering or indignity. The confinement and mode of treating a prisoner may be varied during his captivity according to the demands of safety.
76. Prisoners of war shall be fed upon plain and wholesome food, whenever practicable, and treated with humanity.
They may be required to work for the benefit of the captors government, according to their rank and condition.
77. A prisoner of war who escapes may be shot, or otherwise killed in his flight; but neither death nor any other punishment shall be inflicted upon him simply for his attempt to escape, which the law of war does not consider a crime. Stricter means of security shall be used after an unsuccessful attempt at escape.
If, however, a conspiracy is discovered, the purpose of which is a united or general escape, the conspirators may be rigourosly punished, even with death; and capital punishment may also be inflicted upon prisoners of war discovered to have plotted rebellion against the authorities of the captors, whether in union with fellow prisoners of war or other persons.

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