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Photo of Matt M. McClenahen
Photo of Matt M. McClenahen

Summary Offenses: Confederate Solider Arrested for Public Drunkenness and Disorderly Conduct

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2013 | Summary Offenses

A Civil War re-enactor from Georgia recently did his part to accurately portray a drunken, marauding Confederate soldier during the Gettysburg Campaign. Justin Colbert was arrested on June 28, 2013, at an encampment of re-enactors, set to participate in festivities surrounding the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, after the drunken “Butternut” repeatedly entered other soldiers’ tents, trying to start fights. It took seven other re-enactors to hold him down before police could arrive to administer a dose of Yankee justice. Colbert was charged with the summary offenses of disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.

Fortunately for Mr. Colbert, Magisterial District Judge Mark Beauchat was far more merciful than Thaddeus Stevens and the Radical Republicans were to his Confederate ancestors. Judge Beuachat could have sentenced Colbert to six months in Adams County Prison, but instead opted to release him from jail the next day after Colbert had sobered up. Judge Beauchat did, however, impose fines and court costs totaling $1,128, which Colbert is not allowed to pay in Confederate money.

During the Gettysburg Campaign, the desperate Army of Northern Virginia stole anything they could get their hands on from the people of South Central Pennsylvania, so one can only assume that well- stocked taverns and home bars would have been plundered with great enthusiasm. Of course, the Confederates had no monopoly on drunk and rowdy behavior. This summer, the “Harrisburg Patriot” has been re-publishing its articles originally published during the Gettysburg Campaign, as Harrisburg residents were sweating bullets in fear of an imminent rebel assault on Pennsylvania’s capital. One such article reports that a group of heavily intoxicated Union soldiers were fighting with each other in downtown Harrisburg, at a time when the city was under direct threat. So, in that context, it appears that Colbert was simply engaged in a bit of “method acting,” in order to channel the spirit of Civil War soldiers.

Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense lawyer in State College, Pennsylvania. He has represented countless people in summary offense cases, but he has yet to represent a Civil War soldier.


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