The term AWOL as applied to many Civil War soldiers was sort of ambiguous. Sometimes the man was just not present at a roll call. Someitmes he could have been in hospital or on furlough. It was not uncommon for a man to be carried as absent when actually he was detached to other duties. Poor record keeping was prevalent in those days. Especially on the part of Confederates. Most likely your man did return, maybe he was never gone. My G-G-Uncle was listed as "deserted" in Dec. 1861. What happened was, he had been captured at Allegheny Mountain and managed to escape. He was present at his unit's next muster in March, 1862 and served until his death of typhoid on august29, 1862.