Obama Taps First Gay Army Chief; First President Drummed Out Soldier for Sodomy

By Penny Starr | September 22, 2015 | 3:52pm EDT
Army Acting Under Secretary Eric Fanning has been nominated to be the first homosexual secretary of the United States Army.(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – On Friday, President Barack Obama nominated Eric Fanning to be the first homosexual to be secretary of the United States Army. This comes four years after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing homosexuals to serve “openly” in the military.

“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” Obama said. “I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will help lead America's soldiers with distinction.

"I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world,” Obama said.

The first president of the United States, however, took a different kind of action when confronted with homosexuality in the U.S. military.

“Back in 1778, at Valley Forge, however, Gen. George Washington approved the dismissal of a soldier for ‘attempting to commit sodomy,’ with ‘abhorrence and detestation of such infamous crimes,’” according to Washington’s papers at the Library of Congress.

Washington (1732-1799) was the leader of the Continental Army in America’s Revolutionary War against Britain and served as the first president of the United States and thus as its first “Commander in Chief” of the armed forces and the militia, as stipulated in the Constitution. Valley Forge, in eastern Pennsylvania, was the site for the Continental Army’s military camp during the winter of 1777-78.

On March 10, 1778, at Valley Forge, Gen. George Washington approved the dismissal from service of Lt. Frederick Gotthold Enslin for “attempting to commit sodomy” with another soldier.

In the first president’s papers at the Library of Congress is a series of orders with the title, “Head Quarters, V. Forge, Saturday, March 14, 1778.” It includes the following entry:

“At a General Court Martial whereof Colo. Tupper was President (10th March 1778) Lieutt. [Frederick Gotthold] Enslin of Colo. Malcom's Regiment tried for attempting to commit sodomy, with John Monhort a soldier; Secondly, For Perjury in swearing to false Accounts, found guilty of the charges exhibited against him, being breaches of 5th. Article 18th. Section of the Articles of War and do sentence him to be dismiss'd the service with Infamy.

“His Excellency the Commander in Chief [George Washington] approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieutt. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return; The Drummers and Fifers to attend on the Grand Parade at Guard mounting for that Purpose.”

Enslin’s dismissal came less than two weeks after another soldier, Ensign Anthony Maxwell, was acquitted of the charge of “propagating a scandalous report prejudicial to the character of Lieutt. Enslin” on Feb. 27, 1778, according to the transcription of the court martial dated March 3, 1778. 

The document reads: “At a Brigade Court Martial whereof Colo. Burr was President (Feby. 27th. 1778,) Ensign Maxwell20 of Colo. Malcom's Regiment tried for propagating a scandalous report prejudicial to the character of Lieutt. Enslin.21 The Court after maturely deliberating upon the Evidence produced could not find that Ensign Maxwell had published any report prejudicial to the Character of Lieutt. Enslin further than the strict line of his duty required and do therefore acquit him of the Charge.”

“His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the aforegoing sentences and orders Ensign Maxwell to be discharged from his Arrest …” the transcription states.

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