Revised in the Office of
The Judge Advocate General of the Army
and published by direction of
The President

Effective April 1, 1928

Corrected to April 29, 1943


Table of Contents

    Para. Page
Introduction   vii
Executive Order   ix
Chapter I. Military Jurisdiction 1-2 1
  Sources   1
  Exercise   1
Chapter II. Courts-martial 3-4 2
  Classification   2
  Composition   2
Chapter III. Courts-martial (continued) 5-6 4
  Appointing authorities   4
  Appointment of trial judge advocate, defense counsel, assistants   6
Chapter IV. Courts-martial (continued) 7-17 7
  Jurisdiction in general   7
  Jurisdiction of general, special, and summary courts-martial   9
Chapter V. Courts-martial--Procedure before trial 18-23 13
  Arrest and confinement   13
  Arrest of deserter by civilians   14
Chapter VI. Courts-martial--Procedure before trial (continued) 24-29 16
  Preparation of charges   16
Chapter VII. Courts-martial--Procedure before trial (continued) 30-35 20
  Submission of and action upon charges   20
Chapter VIII. Courts-martial--Personnel 36-40 27
  Appointment   27
  Changes in personnel   27
  Members   27
  President   28
  Law member   29
Chapter IX. Courts-martial--Personnel (continued) 41-48 30
  Trial judge advocate   30
  Assistant trial judge advocate   33
  Defense counsel   33
  Assistant defense counsel   34
  Individual counsel   34
  Reporter   36
  Interpreter   26
  Clerks and orderlies   27
Chapter X. Courts-martial--Procedure 49-52 38
  Certain general matters   38
  Closed sessions   39
  Interlocutory questions other than challenges   39
  Continuances   40
Chapter XI. Courts-martial--Procedure (continued) 53-56 42
  Assembling   42
  Seating of personnel and accused   42
  Attendance and security of accused   42
  Introduction of the accused and counsel; swearing reporter; asking accused as to copy of general court-martial record; announcement of members present   43
Chapter XII. Courts-martial--Procedure (continued) 57-62 44
  Excusing members   44
  Challenges   44
  Witness for the prosecution   47
  Accuser   47
  Oaths   47
  Arraignment   47
Chapter XIII. Courts-martial--Procedure (continued) 63-74 49
  Inquiry into sanity of accused   49
  Pleas   50
  Motions   55
  Nolle prosequi   56
  Action on defective specification   57
  Action where evidence indicates an offense not charged   57
Chapter XIV. Courts-martial--Procedure (continued) 75 58
  Introduction of evidence   58
Chapter XV. Courts-martial--Procedure (continued) 76-81 61
  Statements   61
  Arguments   61
  Findings   62
  Data as to service, etc., evidence of previous convictions; evidence of former discharges; evidence of former punishment   65
  Sentence   67
  Announcing sentence; matters of, and recommendations to, clemency; adjournment   68
Chapter XVI. Courts-martial--Procedure (continued) 82-84 69
  Special and summary courts   69
  Revision   69
  Rehearings   70
Chapter XVII. Courts-martial--Records 85-86 71
  General court-martial   71
  Special and summary courts-martial   72
Chapter XVIII. Courts-martial--Action 87-88 73
  Reviewing authority   73
  Confirming authority   79
Chapter XIX. Courts-martial--Action (continued) 89-90 80
  Ordering rehearings   80
  Place of confinement   80
Chapter XX. Courts-martial--Action (continued) 91-94 82
  Action after promulgation   82
Chapter XXI. Oaths 95-96 84
  Oaths in trials by courts-martial   84
  Authority to administer oaths   84
Chapter XXII. Courts-martial--Incidental matters 97-101 86
  Attendance of witnesses   86
  Preparation of interrogatories and ntaking of depositions   89
  Employment of experts   91
  Expenses of courts-martial   91
  Contempts   91
Chapter XXIII. Courts-martial--Punishments 102-104 92
  General limitations   92
  Miscellaneous limitations and comments   92
  Maximum limits of punishments   95
Chapter XXIV. Disciplinary power of commanding officer 105-109 103
Chapter XXV. Courts-martial--Rules of Evidence 110-126 107
Chapter XXVI. Punitive articles 127-152 138
Chapter XXVII. Habeas corpus 153-157 192
1. The Articles of War 203
2. Forms for orders appointing courts-martial 231
3. Charge sheet 233
4. Forms for charges and specifications 236
5. Suggestions for trial judge advocates 258
6. Form for record of trial by general courts-martial, and revision proceedings, with notes 260
7. Form for record of trial by special court-martial 271
8. Form for record of trial by summary court-martial 272
9. Forms of sentences 273
10. Forms for action by reviewing authority 275
11. Forms for orders of promulgation--Forms for orders vacating suspensions 277
Index 281


The Articles of War of 1920 introduced many changes in the procedure before courts-martial. In 1923, feeling that sufficient time had elapsed to permit of fair observation, suggestions were invited from all commanding officers with a view to the correction of such defects as experience had disclosed. Constructive criticisms and suggestions were received from practically every command in the Army. They were especially valuable as coming from those most intimately associated with carrying the articles into execution. These suggestions were carefully studied, and the present edition of the manual is to some extent a composite of all the ideas so received.

Some of the matter in the 1921 edition has been omitted, partly to reduce the manual to a more convenient size and partly because it was thought that many matters of detail ought to be left to judgment and common sense. It does not follow that any such omitted portion may not apply to a given case, unless, of course, its provisions have been changed by this manual. In any case of doubt as to any subject not treated in this manual the customs of the service and authoritative military precedents will serve as guides.


Executive Order No. 4773

By virtue of the powers in ine vested as President of the United States of America, and pursuant to Chapter II of an act of Congress entitled "An act to amend an act entitled 'An act for making further and more effectual provision for the national defense, and for other purposes,' approved June 3, 1916, and to establish military justice," approved June 4, 1920 (41 Stat. 759), I prescribe the following Manual for Courts-Martial and direct that it be published for the government of all concerned. This manual shall be in force and effect in the Armies of the United States on and after April 1, 1928; except that its provisions, other than as to mere matters of procedure and other than any provisions alleviating the punishment to be imposed upon conviction in any case, do not supersede the provisions of the Manual for Courts-Martial, 1921, with respect to acts done or offenses committed prior to April 1, 1928.


      November 29, 1927.

[Subsequent Executive Orders have prescribed amendments to various paragraphs of the Manual, as follows:

No. 8727 (April 1,1941), amendinging paragraphs 104b and 104c.
No. 9048 (Feb. 3, 1942), amending paragraph 104c.
No. 9216 (Aug. 7, 1942), amending paragraph 117a.
No. 9267 (Nov. 9, 1942), amending paragraph 104c.
No. 9324 (March 31, 1943), amending paragraphs 14, 85a, 87b, 87c, 91,94, 96, 103d, 126, 129, and 155, and App. 4 and 10.

The amendments prescribed by these five orders have been incorporated in the text of this edition of the Manual.]


Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation