Causes of Military Unrest:  Mutiny, Desertion & Insubordination
ACSC Research Topic

January 2005

Compiled by Bibliography Branch
Muir S. Fairchild Research Information Center
Maxwell AFB, AL


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All sites last accessed January 4,  2005.

Internet Resources

The Freeman Field Mutiny. Afro American Almanac, 2001.
Available online at:

Hess, Pamela. Military Desertion Rates Down Since 2001. Washington, Washington Times, 2004.
Available online at:
The number of annual military desertions is down to the lowest level since before 2001, according to the Pentagon.

Port Chicago Naval Magazine Explosion. Washington, Naval Historical Center, May 2001.
Available online at:
The Naval Historical Center of the U.S. Department of the Navy presents information about the 1944 Port Chicago naval magazine explosion in California. The explosion occurred while a merchant ship was being loaded with munitions and it resulted in the death of 320 people. The incident highlighted the importance of proper handling procedures and the continued racial segregation within the Navy. Most of the men killed in the explosion were African-Americans, and there was a mutiny by other ordnance workers due to this incident.

Ramsberger, Peter F. and Bell, D. B. What We Know about AWOL and Desertion: A Review of the Professional Literature for Policy Makers and Commanders. Alexandria, VA, Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences , August 2002. 22 p. (ARI-SR-51).
Available online at:

Rose, Elihu. Readers Companion to Military History--Desertion. Houghton Mifflen,
Available online at:
Desertion is the act of leaving military service, or a place of duty, without permission and with the intention not to return. It is the intention not to return that differentiates desertion from the less serious offense of absence from duty. Desertion has been the bane of virtually every organized military force throughout history, and few armies, from the most egalitarian to the most authoritarian, seem to be immune: it takes place in war and peace, in garrison and at the front.


Coffey, Michael. Days of Infamy: Military Blunders of the 20th Century. New York, Hyperion, 1999. 288 p.
See p.35 "French Mutiny in the Trenches."
Book call no.: 355.00904 C674d

David, Saul. Mutiny at Salerno. London, Brassey's, 1995. 240 p.
Book call no.: 940.542145 D249m (ACSC reserve shelf)

Experience of War: An Anthology of Articles from MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, edited by Robert Cowley. New York, Norton, 1992. 574 p.
See p. 267-279 "Mutiny on the Potemkin".
Book call no.: 355.009 E96

Gardner, Fred. The Unlawful Concert: An Account of the Presidio Mutiny Case. New York , Viking Press, 1990. 239 p.
Book call no.: 355.133 G226u (ACSC reserve shelf)

Gilbert, Martin. The First World War: A Complete History. 1st American Edition. New York, H. Holt, 1994. 615 p.
See chapter 17: War, Desertion, Mutiny.
Book call no.: 940.3 G465f

Gropman, Alan L. The Air Force Integrates, 1945-1964. Washington, Smithsonian Institution, 1998. 237 p.
See pages 11-17 "The Freeman Field Mutiny"; and pages 46-51 "The MacDill Riot".
Book call no.: 358.33 A2987a 1998

Guttridge, Leonard F. Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection. Annapolis, MD, Naval Institute Press, 1992. 318 p.
Book call no.: 355.1334 G985m (ACSC reserve shelf)

Hathaway, Jane. Rebellion, Repression, Reinvention: Mutiny in comparative Perspective. Westport, CT, Praeger, 2001. 282 p.
This is the first book to address the topic of mutiny in and of itself, or to present mutiny in a comparative framework. The fourteen contributors, a mixture of military, social, and political historians, examine instances of mutiny that occurred from ancient to modern times and on nearly every continent. Their findings call into question standard definitions of mutiny, while shedding new light on the patterns that mutiny tends to take, as well as the interactions that can occur between mutinous soldiers and surrounding civilian societies. While standard definitions of mutiny emphasize mass defiance by rank-and-file soldiers of the orders of their military superiors, the essays here demonstrate that mutiny can often take other forms.
Book call no.: 306.27 R291 (ACSC reserve shelf)

Heath, G. Louis. Mutiny Does Not Happen Lightly: The Literature of the American Resistance to the Vietnam War. Metuchen, NJ, Scarecrow Press, 1976. 597 p.
Book call no.: 959.7 M992

Horn, Daniel. The German Naval Mutinies of World War I. New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1969. 346 p.
Book call no.: 940.45943 H813g

Huie, William B. The Execution of Private Slovik: The Hitherto Secret Story of the Only American Soldier Since 1864 to be Shot for Desertion. New York, New American Library, 1954. 152 p.
Book call no.: 355.133 H899e

Karsten, Peter. Motivating Soldiers: Morale or Mutiny. New York, Garland , 1998. 352 p.
Book call no.: 355.123 M918

Linnett, Richard and Loiederman, Roberto. The Eagle Mutiny. Annapolis, MD, Naval Institute Press, 2001. 295 p.
In the past one-hundred fifty years there has been only one armed mutiny aboard an American ship. This is the story of that incident which occurred on March 14, 1970. The mutiny was carried out by two young crew members of an American tramp steamer transporting napalm to Thailand for the war in Vietnam. After casting most of the crew into the Gulf of Thailand in lifeboats, the mutineers--fireman Clyde McKay and bedroom steward Alvin Glatkowski--made their way to Cambodia, where after a tense impasse with the U.S. military, the Columbia Eagle was turned over to Prince Sihanouk's government, and the mutineers, declaring themselves antiwar revolutionaries, were granted asylum. But two days later the two were imprisoned when a coup put pro-US Lon Nol in power, with Sihanouk charging that the CIA had masterminded the mutiny to deliver weapons to Lon Nol.
Book call no.: 940.704345 L758e

Lonn, Ella. Desertion During the Civil War. Lincoln, NB, University of Nebraska Press, 1998. 251 p .
This book is in electronic format. Use the AUL web page to create a password in order to read the book from your home computer.
Also available online at:

Martin, Bessie. Rich Man's War, A Poor Man's Fight: Desertion of Alabama Troops From the Confederate Army. Tuscaloosa, AL, University of Alabama Press, 2003. 281 p.
Book call no.: 973.7461 M379d

McGuffie, Tom Henderson. Stories of Famous Mutinies. London, Barker, 1966 . 190 p.
Book call no.: 359.133 M148s

Melton, Buckner F. A Hanging Offense: The Strange Affair of the Warship Somers. New York, Free Press, 2003. 301 p.
In 1842 Capt. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie of the U.S. Navy brig Somers uncovered plans for a mutiny, and when locking the ringleaders in irons did not seem to extinguish the plot, he ordered three of them hanged without trial. What made the episode particularly lurid was that the senior member of the hanged trio, Midshipman Philip Spencer, was the son of the Secretary of War. The ensuing court-martial stirred bitter controversy and led to the establishment of the Naval Academy.
Book call no.: 343.730143 M528h

Moore, William. The Thin Yellow Line. New York, St. Martin's Press, 1975. p
A rare history of those executed for cowardice in war since the English Civil War.
Book call no.: 355.133 M825t (ACSC reserve)

Naval Mutinies of the Twentieth Century: An International Perspective, edited by Christopher M. Bell and Bruce A. Elleman. London, Frank Cass, 2003. 288 p. (Cass series--naval policy and history, 19)
The battleship Potemkin and its discontents, 1905 / Robert Zebroski -- The revolt of the lash, 1910 / Zachary R. Morgan -- The Cattaro mutiny, 1918 / Paul G. Halpern -- 'Red sailors' and the demise of the German Empire, 1918 / Michael Epkenhans -- The French naval mutinies, 1919 / Philippe Masson -- The HMAS Australia mutiny, 1919 / David Stevens -- Mutiny in the Chilean Navy, 1931 / William F. Sater -- The Invergordon mutiny, 1931 / Christopher M. Bell -- The Port Chicago mutiny, 1944 / Regina T. Akers -- The Royal Indian Navy mutiny, 1946 / Chris Madsen -- The Chongquing mutiny and the Chinese Civil War, 1949 / Bruce A. Elleman -- The post-war 'incidents' in the Royal Canadian Navy, 1949 / Richard H. Gimblett -- Naval mutinies in the twentieth century and beyond.
Book call no.: 359.1334 N318

Oram, Gerad. Military Executions During World War I. New York, Palgrave MacMillan, 2003. 228 p.
Three hundred and fifty-one men were executed by British Army firing-squads between September 1914 and November 1920. By far the greatest number were shot for desertion in the face of the enemy. Controversial even at the time, these executions of soldiers amid the horrors of the Western Front continue to haunt the history of war. This book provides a critical analysis of military law in the British army and other major armies during the First World War, with particular reference to the use of the death penalty. This study establishes a full cultural and legal framework for military discipline and compares British military law with French and German military law. It includes case studies of British troops on the Frontline.
Book call no.: 343.410143 O63m

Pope, Dudley. The Black Ship. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1963. 367 p.
Book call no.: 359.133 P825b

Schubert, Paul and Langhorne, Gibson. Death of a Fleet, 1917-1919. New York , Coward-McCann, 1932 . 278 p.
Book call no.: 940.45 Sch8d

Smith, Leonard V. Between Mutiny and Obedience: The Case fo the French Fifth Infantry Division During World War I. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1994. 274 p.
Book call no.: 940.41244 S654b

Todd, Jack. Desertion: In The Time of Vietnam. Boston, MA, Houghton Mifflin, 2001. p
Now one of Canada's most successful journalists, Todd looks back on his hardscrabble youth in a small Nebraska town, his exciting job as a reporter on the "Miami Herald", and his decision to desert from the United States Army rather than to fight in the Vietnam War.
Book call no.: 959.70438 T634d

Warren, James C. The Freeman Field Mutiny, A Tuskegee Airmen's Story. Vacaville, CA, Conyers, 1996. 213 p.
Book call no.: 940.5403 W289f

Watson, Bruce. When Soldiers Quit: Studies in Military Disintegration. Westport, CT, Praeger, 1997. 196 p.
After an introduction showing three examples of military disintegration, the author examines six historical occurrences in depth: The India Mutiny of 1857; the 1917 French Army mutinies; the depredations following the British siege of San Sebastian, 1813; the surrender of the U.S. 106th Infantry Division in 1944; the Sand Creek Indian Massacre, 1864; and the My Lai massacre in 1968.
Book call no.: 355.1334 W337w (ACSC reserve shelf)

Watt, Richard M. Dare Call It Treason. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1963. 344 p.
On the Western Front, mutiny was everywhere in the air. "The operation must be postponed," one general wrote. "We risk having the men refuse to leave the assault trenches." French soldiers cursed their commanders, drank openly in the trenches, singing ditties about war profiteers and wooden graveyard crosses. Their commanders were unable to stem the distribution of papillons, the pacifist leaflets that filled French barracks like white spring snow. As May 1917 approached, commanders adjusted to the troop upheavals, coining a euphemism ("collective indiscipline") to substitute for the more terrifying "mutiny". Richard M. Watt's engulfing narrative of the calamitous French army mutinies throws fresh light on the weakness of the Army of France in the last years of the war and, indirectly, on the importance of American intervention.
Book call no.: 940.457 W346d


Some of the documents cited in this section are student papers written to fulfill PME school requirements.

Bannister, Kevin e. The Sepoy Mutiny, 1857. Maxwell AFB, AL, Air Command and Staff College, 2004. 38 p.
The Sepoy Mutiny provides a case study highlighting what can happen when a government becomes disassociated from the occupied culture. Great Britain was caught by surprise when its Indian Army of Bengal mutinied and touched off three years of bloody warfare.
Doc. call no.: M-U 43122 B2192s

Cadwell, Angela M. Military Unrest and Racial Discrimination in World War II: a Study in Leadership. Maxwell AFB, Al, Air Command and Staff College, 2003. 38 p.
This paper is a historical case study of insubordination in the context of World War 11. It looks specifically at two cases of insubordination, one in the US Army, at Freeman Field, and one in the US Navy, at Port Chicago.
Doc. call no.: M-U 43122 C126m

Murphy, John D. The Freeman Field Mutiny, a Study in Leadership: A Research Paper. Maxwell AFB, AL, Air Command and Staff College, 1997. 49 p.
Also available online at:
Doc. call no.: M-U 43122 M9785f


Periodicals 2001 and earlier are located in the Older Periodicals Section (take the elevator at Circulation Desk). All other periodicals are located on the first floor in the Periodicals Section.

Bell, Christopher M. The Royal Navy and the Lessons of the Invergordon Mutiny. War in History 12:75-92 January 2005.
This article examines the Royal Navy's efforts to understand the underlying causes of the Invergordon mutiny. Previous studies of this event have tended to focus on the Admiralty's attempt to conceal its own failures by finding scapegoats in the Atlantic Fleet. However, the navy's treatment of the senior personnel involved in the mutiny is less important than its efforts to identify and correct systemic problems within the service that were believed to be undermining the foundations of naval discipline.
Also available online at:,ip,url,uid&db=mth&an=15456055

Bell, D. Bruce and Bell, Beverly W. Desertion and Antiwar Protest: Findings From the Ford Clemency Program. Armed Forces and Society 3:433-443 Spring 1977.

Brown, John. In 1808 New South Whales' Governor, William Bligh Faced Another Mutiny: The Rum Rebellion. Military History 19:12-15 February 2003.
Also available online at:,ip,url,uid&db=aph&an=8615617

Gimblett, Richard L. What the Mainguy Report Never Told Us: The Tradition of 'Mutiny' in the Royal Canadian Navy Before 1949. Canadian Military Journal 1:87-94 Summer 2000.
Also available online at:

Hamby, Joel E. The Mutiny Wagon Wheel: A Leadership Model for Mutiny in Combat. Armed Forces and Society 28:575 Summer 2002.
Focuses on the collective refusal or mutiny of military units. Factors that contribute to mutiny in bodies of soldiers; Factors that offer a tool for preventing or identifying future military rebellion; Types of mutiny according to the Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice; Factors that determine the process and evolution of a mutiny; Definitions of alienation identified by Melvin Seeman that bear directly on motivation.
Also available online at:,ip,url,uid&db=aph&an=7194577

Heinl, Robert D. The Collapse of the Armed Forces. Armed Forces Journal 108: 7 June 1971.
Also available online at:

Jacobson, Mark. The British Retreat from Waziristan. Military History 16:34-40 April 1999.
Also available online at:

Lee, R. Alton. The Army Mutiny of 1946. The Journal of American History 53 :555-571 December 1966.
Also available online at:

O'Domhnaill, Ruairi. Curragh Mutiny in Historical and Legal Perspective. RUSI Journal 149:80-84 February 2004.
O'Domhnaill aims to demonstrate that what is conventionally called the "Curragh Incident, 1914" was, de jure, mutiny. Details of the "incident" are presented.
Also available online at:

Peaty, John. The Desertion Crisis in Italy, 1944. RUSI Journal 147:76-83 June 2002.
The incidence of desertion and its less heinous partner in crime, absence without leave (AWOL), was not spread evenly throughout World War II, throughout the theatres or throughout the arms. If that had been the case, then the problem would have been manageable. Unfortunately, desertion and AWOL principally affected the infantry and were at one of their peaks in Italy in the autumn and winter of 1944. Because of this unhappy combination of circumstances, desertion and AWOL played a significant part in causing and exacerbating the infantry crisis that afflicted the British Army at that time. The aim of this paper is to examine closely the subject of desertion and AWOL from infantry units in Italy in late 1944.
Also available online at:

Rawe, Julie. Mutiny on the Convoy. Time 164:24 October 25, 2004.
So far U.S. officials in Iraq are steering clear of the M word, referring instead to a platoon's refusal to take part in a supply convoy as "a temporary breakdown in discipline.
Also available online at:

Rose, Elihu. Anatomy of a Mutiny. Armed Forces and Society 8:561-574 Summer 1982.

Scheck, William. A Case of Mutiny? Vietnam 13:42-48 December 2000.
Also available online at:

Shils, Edward. A Profile of the Military Deserter. Armed Forces and Society 3:427-432 Spring 1977.

Young, Gregory. A Sleuth Describes the Ill-Fated Soviet Mutiny That Inspired the Hunt for Red October. People 23:133 September 16, 1985.
An electronic version of this article can be found by using the AUL subscription database InfoTrac Custom Military and Intelligence.


The Battleship Potemkin. New York, A & E Home Video, 50 min
In 1905 the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin refused to eat because their food was filled with maggots. This incident fueled a mutiny and a fever of revolution.
Book call no.: 947.08 B336 (ACSC reserve shelf)

The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century. Alexandria, VA, PBS Home Video, 1996.
See episode 5 and 6: Mutiny--Collapse.
Book call no.: 940.31 G786

The Port Chicago Mutiny: Death and Defiance. A&E Television Networks, 1998. 50 min.
Book call no.: Video 940.5403 P839

The True Story of Mutiny on the Bounty. New York, A & E Home Video, 50 min.
Book call no.: 910.45 T866 (ACSC reserve shelf)

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