WI: U.S. Army denies 1861 resignations?

1861 saw many future Confederate generals resigning from the U.S. military.
What if the government realizes they're likely to defect instead of just sitting out the war and refuse to grant the resignations?

The first question is what to do with the potential traitors they're keeping, some do nothing desk jobs or sent to the frontier maybe?

Next is what does this do to the Confederacy, besides the famous battlefield generals they'll also lose several engineers and people like Josiah Gorgas who was Chief of Ordnance.

Probable another important question, would everyone except it as gentlemen or would some try to defect anyway and risk court martial?

I found a list on Wikipedia, but the resignations are mixed in with everybody else:


1. They're not traitors, they're being honourable by resigning their commission. They wouldn't have to do that; the secession of their states formally severs all ties to the USA, which means they can just walk away. They are no longer US citizens, and as such no longer bound to serve a country that is going to war with the country of which they are citizens. The fact that they resign formally is a actually very respectful act. (Most people at the time understood that, by the way. The war turned bitter later, but in the early stages, the officers on both sides had immense respect for each other and were inclined to treat the whole matter as a "gentlemanly war".)

2. If the Federal government had been so colossally dishonourable and idiotic to do what you speak of here, the outcome would be that all Southerners who chose the Union over their states in OTL would reverse their decision (at the very least refusing to serve), and that a considerable number of Northern gentlemen would likewise refuse to serve. Doing this would, in the eyes of many living at the time (also in the North), be proof that the Southern complaints about the Federal government were true. (One must avoid presentism, and look at the matter through the lens of a society that hasn't yet experienced the Civil War. Attitudes are very different from OTL modern-day ones. The vast majority of Northern officers hold the Southern officers in high esteem, and vice versa.)

3. It's extremely disingenuous to say "would they accept this deeply ungentlemanly thing as gentlemen". The fact is that the people in charge up North at the time weren't the people who act like this. They were also gentlemen, and as such too gentlemanly to do the sort of thing you're proposing here. This was a time when honour still meant something, which is why it was so immensely difficult for many Southern officers to choose between the Union they had served and their home states (including their families, their friends, their entire lives) which had now departed from that Union. Many chose their homes over a distant central government, because loyalty is first and foremost to your closest kin. Choosing the side of your family and your home against a distant central government isn't treason, but reason. (I'd do the same thing in a heartbeat.)

Anyway, your scenario is written with an present-day OTL bias that didn't exist at the time. It presupposes a view of the Southerners (as "traitors") that was far from universal at the time. It presupposes that the gentlemen in the North will forget all the obligations that traditional customs, personal dignity and social standing impose (so that they would treat their fellow gentlemen in a way one would treat a yokel from Nowheresville, which was not done). And it presupposes that, if it happened, the gentlemen being treated in an unacceptably ungentlemanly way would be seen as the bad guys (which they wouldn't; it would instead create considerable sympathy for them and antipathy to the government).

Consider for a moment that imprisoning Jefferson Davis after the war, pending a potential trial, made so many people see him as a martyr (a gentleman treated in a dishonourable way) that the whole trial was cancelled because the likely outcome would be massive public sympathy for Davis. And that's literally the big boss of the CSA, after the war! If you do something like that to honourable gentlemen-officers before the war even gets going, it's not unthinkable that your own officer corps resigns en masse.
What about the enlisted men? It is my understanding that they can not resign.
The prompt adresses generals, and i see your point, however you have to remember the union army stood at around 10000 strong before and after the Mexican American war. (Around 950 officers and the rest enlisted)