Why was Jethro in trouble for helping Eb in Across Five Aprils?Chapter 9
Jethro was in trouble for helping Eb in Chapter 9 because Eb was a deserter from the Union Army, and according to the law, anyone hiding or otherwise helping deserters were in direct defiance of the law as well.
In the winter of 1863, desertion was a big problem in the Union Army. The war had dragged on for going on three years, and the soldiers who had survived to that point were tired, traumatized, and demoralized. Deserters by the score wandered the land; desperate, they often formed bands and terrorized the citizenry around them. It was the job of the representatives of the Federal Registrars to hunt down the deserters and bring them in for punishment.
One night in February of 1863, representatives of the Federal Registrars came to the Creighton home looking for Eb. After searching the house and farm to no avail, they warned the family in no uncertain terms that shielding a deserter was a serious crime. Although the punishment for the crime was not specified by the men, their message was clear. They told Jethro that if Eb should turn up, he was to "get word to the Office of the Federal Registrars in Chicago right away, telling them where the man is or expects to be". If Eb should show up and Jethro were not to report him, he and his family would "be up to (their) necks in trouble" (Chapter 9).