The American military tradition often equates the act of surrender with failure—a failure of command, perseverance, or courage. Indeed, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (Article 99 (2)) describes unnecessary surrender as military misconduct, but occasionally, U.S. commanders have faced circumstances where the welfare of their soldiers outweighed mission objectives and the possibility of facing court-martial. From the opposite perspective, however, U.S. forces have also experienced surrender as the victor. In those circumstances, U.S. commanders accept responsibility for the humane treatment of, and potential reconciliation with, defeated enemies.

Surrender of U.S. Arms

Along with many celebrated victories, the U.S. armed forces have a long history with surrender. During the American Revolution (1775–1783), the American general Benjamin Lincoln chose to defend Charleston, South Carolina, with 2,500 troops, many ...

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