at attention

It’s Veterans Day—Salute Eight Of America’s Out Service Members


(Enslin’s court-martial report; image of the Continental Army)

Lt. Frederick Gotthold Enslin
Believed to be the first person discharged from the Armed Forces for being gay, Enslin was literally drummed out of the Continental Army under the leadership of General George Washington. Initially an ensign was court-martialed at Valley Forge in 1778 for “propogating a scandalous report prejudicial to the character of Lieut. Enslin,” but was ultimately acquitted.

His accusations, however, led to Enslin being court-martialed for “attempting to commit sodomy” with another soldier. (Shades of Oscar Wilde!) Things did not go so well for Enslin: As Washington’s secretary recorded, “His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence & Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieut. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning…” On Mach 15, 1778, Lt. Enslin was booted out with a surprising amount of pomp and circumstance:

“He was first drum’d from right to left of the parade, thence to the left wing of the army; from that to the centre, and lastly transported over the Schuylkill [River] with orders never to be seen in Camp in the future. This shocking scene was performed by all the drums and fifes in the army, the coat of the delinquent was turned wrong side out.”

NEXT: These ladies weren’t having it