Shooting Officers

 
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Zooasaurus
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:56 pm    Post subject: Shooting Officers

is it true that in the 18th century there were agreements where both sides will not kill officers in the battlefield? also, it is said that killing officers is prohibited in some nations during that time. Is this true and what's the reason for this? some people said this but i'm not quite sure that this was a real deal
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:09 pm    Post subject:

during battle . never heard
but after battle yes in international law killing surrendered troops and general... admirals was prohibited . theoretically
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 8:14 am    Post subject:

There were such rules, but mostly unwritten I think. They came up with the establishment of linear tactics, but increasingly vanished with the creation of specialized light infantry/marksmen and the use of rifles, which allowed and thus encouraged the intentional targetting and possible killing of officers. This would be done in order to decrease the operational effectiveness of certain units (i.e. artillery squads) due to the lack of leadership or inflict fear, panic and confusion as a psychological weapon among the remaining troops.

However, usually European armies would prefer to take officers as prisoners of war of whom they were the highest ranking ones and received better medical treatment and housing than lower ranking soldiers. This doesn't mean though they were always exempted from death or humiliation. Officers would continue to be treated like this I think until the end of world war 1.

This was partially also practised outside of Europe or westernized armies (i.e. Russia and the United States), but the Native Americans for example always rejected to fight formally against the Europeans and hence ignored all the rules and treatises attached to it.
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Zooasaurus
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 2:11 am    Post subject:

So, actually after some research, it was not prohibited to kill Officers. However, in European 18th century armies, Officers were all members of the nobility or at least the upper class. These Officers basically shared the same values system. Most wars fought between European armies in the 18th century were not ideologically motivated, but were purely dynastic struggles between different countries. So there existed a sort of “gentleman’s agreement” that Officers would not be specifically targeted during combat

But i still don't get one thing. It's reasonable then that officers would not target other officers during combat, but how about the men? why and how did armies follow this "rules" that they don't know much about and have nothing to do with?
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:54 am    Post subject:

Well, even these units responsible for assassination of officers were of course led by officers themselves, who were also nobles. I think that the basic military principle of the chain of command would be a sufficient explanation for it. Marksmen wouldn't target an officer by accident and they were surely aware of this codex that would require some sort of authorization by their own officers.

I also think this was a practise that varied depending on who the opposing factions were and how the dynastic ties to the military enemy looked like. If you had a cousin or nephew among the officers of the enemy I doubt such an order would be given. If there were no relevant dynastic ties though I could easily imagine that shooting of officers was not only encouraged but also a fixed part of the battle strategy.
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