Okay, so, I'm doing more research on the American Revolution and last night ran across a whole site devoted to Banastre Tarleton, the impetuous young British colonel who galloped all over South Carolina in 1780, wreaking havoc as he went. He's also known as the Butcher of the Carolinas for the massacre of Rebel troops at Waxhaw in May 1780. I'm still out to lunch on whether he merited this title; of course the British say not, citing extenuating circumstances during that battle AND equal atrocities committed by the Rebels. He was recently tarred and feathered in the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot, in the form of the character Will Tavington, but the real-life Ban Tarleton bears little resemblance to Will.
In following links through the very entertaining account of his biography (which I still haven't finished) I stumbled across a reference to Henry Lee, otherwise known as "Light Horse Harry," the father of Robert E. Lee. Henry was also a rather hotheaded young officer, but under the command of George Washington. In the sidebar was this quote:
"The measure you propose of putting deserters from our Army to immediate death would probably tend to discourage the practice[, but] I think that the part of your proposal which respects cutting off their heads and sending them to the Light Troops had better be omitted." (July 9, 1779)
Priceless. The humor one finds in unexpected places ...