During the Civil War unusual punishments were sometimes administered to keep the men in line.  Some involved physical discomfort and others humiliation.  According to Webb Garrison in his book, The Amazing Civil War, a common punishment was to be branded.  For instance a deserter would be marked with a ”D” on his shoulder, chest or back.  Thieves might be marked with a “T” and a coward marked with a “C.”  There were even some who were branded “W” for worthless.  As Christians we are grateful that God does not mark us permanently for our sins.  A coward or thief is not regarded as one forever, and no one is worthless.  This is because of Christ, Who took our punishment for us.


J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.