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merely to show how necessary it is for us all to keep a strict watch on our own acts and passions, lest we, too, in an unlucky hour, may commit some act for which we may be called to account.
The circumstances which caused Lieutenant Stanly's arrest and trial are set forth in the accompanying letter of Commander Long, of the Warren, to me addressed, and upon which were founded two charges against Stanly, viz:
First. Disobedience of orders.
Second. Treating with contempt his superior and commanding officer.
"United States Ship Warren, "San Francisco, U. C, March 7, 1849.
"Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I have suspended Lieutenant F. Stanly from duty for absenting himself from this ship without leave, and disobedience of orders.
"The facts are these: Yesterday afternoon, about 1 p. m., Lieutenant Stanly entered my cabin, and applied for permission to remain on shore all night. This indulgence was promptly denied him. He expostulated, and endeavored to convince me it was my duty to allow him to remain on shore. Failing in this, he left the cabin with a positive refusal to remain on shore all night. Lieutenant Stanly, soon after this interview, left the ship for the shore, and did not return again until this morning, near the hour of 8 a. m. Soon after 8 I sent for Lieutenant Stanly, and Lieutenant Buchanan, of marines, (who had also absented himself without leave,) and said to them: 'Gentlemen, you have absented yourselves from this ship without permission: what have you to say in justification of your conduct?' To which Lieutenant Stanly replied, 'that he had been out to the mission, and found the distance greater than he expected,' (or words to that effect,) &c, notwithstanding he (Lieutenant S.) told me yesterday afternoon, that the trip he wished to take would prevent his getting back in time to take the sundown boat. 1 then said, 'Gentlemen, you will make that statement to me in writing:' to which Lieutenant Stanly replied: 'Captain Long, I have made my report; you can put it in writing yourself, sir.' 'You can consider yourself suspended, Air. Stanly,' was my reply.
"Lieutenant Buchanan made his statement in writing, which to me is satisfactory.
"I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"A. K. LONG, Commander.
"Commodore Thob. Ap C. Jones,
"Commander in chief U. S. Naval Forces, Pacific Ocean."
"Of the first charge and specification the accused was found guilty; also, guilty of specification to the second charge, but acquitted of second charge; and the court therefore sentenced the accused to be publicly reprimanded by the commander in-chief of the squadron, at such time, and on board of such ship of the squadron, and in presence of such officers of the vessels present, as he may think proper."
Reading the finding and sentence of the court in this case, I was indined to let it pass without comment, supposing that the mere promulgation of such sentence would be rebuke sufficient for the past, and ample guarantee against like behavior in future; but upon a careful review of the whole proceedings and testimony, and especially of Lieutenant Stanly's written defence, I find myself constrained to animadvert in brief terms upon the anomaly as well as speciousness of the defence resorted to by the accused to justify him in a premeditated violation of the rules and discipline of the navy, and of the lawful orders of his superior and commanding officer.
In the first place, the defence is highly objectionable as being not only frivolous and indecorous in terms, but reflecting unwarrantably upon the court before which the accused was pleading, by drawing invidious comparisons between the decisions of that court and what the accused asserts would have been, or was, the decision of a fonner court composed of different officers, whom he enumerates.
Lieutenant Stanly's effort to convince the court by a parity of false reasoning and vain boasting, that his remaining on shore all night in express violation of his captain's orders (reiterated almost at the instant of the lieutenant's leaving the ship to go on shore) evinces a recklessness of disposition or inexcusable ignorance of his obligations to his country and to his superiors in command. After what passed between Captain Long and Lieutenant Stanly in the Warren's cabin about 1 p. m. on the 6th instant, when Captain Long peremptorily refused Lieutenant Stanly leave to remain out ot the Warren the following night, Lieutenant Stanly should have been more than ever cautious not to violate the orders of his commander. Nothing short of unforeseen accideuts or some obstacle insurmountable to human power could justify, or even palliate, such disobedience of orders and contempt for his superior and commanding officer.
The leading questions put by the accused to Lieutenant Buchanan, of the marines, a witness on behalf of the prosecution, shows beyond doubt that the accused was endeavoring to impress upon the court that all reasonable exertion had been made by him to get back in time for the sundown boat; such was the tenor of his questions, and the witnesses' answers, when the testimony pro and con was closed on die 15th instant. So it would have remained, if Lieutenant Stanly, the accused, had not, on the meeting of the court next day, to hear his defence, unwittingly recalled the witness, Lieutenant Buchanan, who, when cross-examined by the court a second time, shows that no attempt was made to return to San Francisco on the afternoon or evening of the 6th of March; that they, Lieutenants Stanly and Buchanan, "remained at the mission until next morning, leaving before day light." Looking at the naked fects presented by the report of Captain Long, and the evidence, the irresistible conclusion is: that the accused asked leave of absence for the night; was refused, expostulated, and still denied; went on shore with full intent to disobey; did disobey; and when called upon by Captain Long for ex planation, made verbal excuses, which excuses the accused indecorously refused to commit to writing when required to do so by Captain Long, his commanding officer.
When Lieutenant Stanly did return on board the Warren next mornins. and was sent for by Captain Long, he might have declined entering into any explanations or defence before his captain, and asked for a court-martial; but after the accused had pleaded guilty, and made a verbal defence im the presence of a third person, it was his bounden duty to commit the same to writing when so required by his superior and commanding officer. A failure to do so, without comment or reason assigned, would have been clear but simple disobedience of orders; but for any inferior officer to refuse (however courteous may be his language) to obey the orders of his superior officer, is, in my judgment, a degree of contempt second to none which can arise in military service. That the court did not so consider the refusal to commit to writing, and find accused guilty of the second charge, must be attributed to the testimony of Captain Long, who stood in the character of an informer, as well as witness, before the court. To an interrogatory put by the accused—" Was my manner respectful in refusing to pur my excuse in writing?"—Commander Long answered, "His manner was respectful;" notwithstanding the witness just before, in his general narrative of the transaction, clearly shows that it was the refusal to commit to writing his excuse which caused the immediate suspension of the accused; and that Lieutenant Buchanan, who had been an associate of Lieutenant Stanly in remaining out of the ship all night contrary to orders, not replying in words disrespectful in themselves, but promptly complying with the order, made a written statement, which was satisfactory to Commander Long, and he was not arrested.
Commander Long, in his narrative before the court of what transpired between himself and Lieutenant Stanly in the cabin of the Warren, about 1 p. m. of the 6th inst., says that "he (Lieutenant Stanly) expostulated and endeavored to convince me it was my duty to allow him to remain on shore; when a desultory conversation ensued, which would not have been permitted had not Lieutenant Stanly said it was 'semi-official or friendly;'" and yet Commander Long, in his letter of complaint dated 7th March, upon which the charges against Lieutenant Stanly were based, says nothing about that interview being " semi-official ox friendly;" but, on the contrary, states that, "about 1 p. m., (6th inst.,) Lieutenant Stanly entered my cabin," &c, Aic; and this fact, from wl.at followed as stated in Captain Long's letter, conveys the strong inference that Lieutenant Stanly's entry into Captain Long's cabin was what, in legal parlance, is termed a forcible entry, and of course was an intrusion, as the accused had not been invited, nor an interview previously sought by him.
Such discrepancy, however unintentional, between official reports and evidence of officers given in court, is highly injurious to the public service, as well as inconsistent with justice and a due regard to the feelings and rights of individuals. Besides, it imposes on the commander-in chief of the squadron the painful duty and the trouble of bringing officers to trial on charges which cannot be substantiated even by the testimony of the officer who lodges the complaint.
Reprehensible as is the defence in tone and effect, the language used by the accused, in submitting his statement, is particularly objectionable.
The closing paragraph or final salutation, which is in the words, "All of which is respectfully submitted to the honorable court, and to the honorable Secretary of the Navy," is unprecedented in the history of naval trials.
The accused was not pleading before the honorable Secretary, nor before a court ordered by the Secretary of the Navy, nor under charges emanating from the Navy Department; neither was it necessary that the defence or any portion of the proceedings should even meet the eye of the honorable Secretary, as all sentences of courts-martial held abroad aw carried into execution by order of the officer ordering the court, " except suck as go to the dismissal of a commissioned or warrant officer.'''' If the accused did not feel assured that his sentence would be dismissal from the navy, which sentence alone could carry the proceedings before the Executive, addressing his defence to the Secretary of the Navy can only be viewed as a rod held "in terrorem" over the court before which he was pleading, or as expression of contempt for the authority which ordered the court.
Abuse of the benign privilege of unrestricted written defence, by a few whose misconduct has been the subject of trial by courts-martial in this squadron, cannot be too pointedly reprehended. If, in the abuse of the right of defence, officers can travel out of the record to indulge in invective and calumnious attacks upon superiors, and others never before the court,courts-martial, the palladium of individual and professional character and right, will soon be stripped of all conservative power; and, instead of being a terror to the evil doer, may be resorted to as the most ravored arena for a display of law, wit, or imaginary legal lore. The almost unrestricted right of challenging members of courts-martial, the right of introducing rebutting testimony, and of cross-examining all witnesses before the court, afford&le means for impeaching the credibility of witnesses, and for defence against unfounded charges or undue influence of superiors. The final or written defence should, therefore, be confined to a review of the evidence given in court—to his own narrative of the charges alleged against the accused; but in this he should confine himself strictly to the context or subject before the court. He should abstain from reproachful innuendo, invidious comparisons, and all irrelevant matter; and especially should he abstain from all disparaging allusions to persons not before the court, who thereby have no means of defending their characters from;such reflections, however groundless. Further than this, the accused has no legal nor natural rights, except the right of appeal, after trial, to high executive authority, or to redress for supposed wrong, through due course of law to some court of competent civil jurisdiction in the United States.
THOS. AP. C. JONES.
Lieutenant Stanly is relieved from arrest, and will report forthwith to Commander (Jrowninshield, for duty on board the United States sloop St. Mary's.
THOS. AP C. JONES, Commander-in-chief U. S. Naual Forces, Pacific Ocean. • Flag-ship Ohio,
Sansalito, Bay of San Francisco, March 27, 1S49.
U. S. Ship-of-war Warren, Bay Of San Francisco,
October 19, 1S49, Friday, 12 o'clock m.
The court having again returned the record of the proceedings in the
case of the United States vs. John Black, Jonathan Biddy, William Hall,
Peter Black, and Henry Commerford, alias Comnerford, took a recess of
All the court, the president, all the members, and the judge advocate, being present, a communication from Commodore Thos. Ap C. Jones, hereto appended and marked A, was read.
In compliance with the order contained in that communication, Commander A. K. Long, Commander Z. F. Johnston, Lieutenant S. F. Blunt,, Lieutenant J. B. Marchand, and Lieutenant F. B. McNeil and Lijestenant James W. Curtis, marines, vacated their seats, and withdrew from the court. Lieutenant E. Lloyd Handy not appearing at half past 2 *'clock, the court adjourned, to meet again to-morrow morning, October 20, fB49, at 10 o'clock a. m.
U. S. Ship Of War Warren, Bay Of San Francisco,
October 20, 1849, Saturday, 10 o'clock a. m. The court met pursuant to adjournment.
Present: the president, all the members, and the judge advocate. The proceedings of yesterday were read over, and found correct. A paper from Commodore Thomas Ap C. Jones, hereto appended and marked B, was read.
The court was declared to be opened, and the accused being present, the following warrant for convening the court was next read:
Flag Ship Savannah, Bay Of San Francisco,
Upper California, October 5, 1849.
Sir: In virtue of the power and authority vested in me, by the 35th article of the act of Congress for the better government of the navy of the United States, approved April 23, 1800, as commander in-chief of the naval forces of the United States, at the time employed on the Pacific station, I do hereby order and direct you to convene a naval general courtmartial on board the United States sloop-of-war Warren, at anchor in the bay of San Francisco, Upper California, at 10 o'clock a. m., on Monday, the 8th instant, to consist of such captains, commanders, and lieutenants, not less than five nor more than thirteen in number, as can be convened without injury to the public service, and over which you will preside, for the trial of John Black, Jonathan Biddy, William Hall, Peter Black, and Henry Commerford, alias Comnerford, and such other persons as may be legally arraigned before such court-martial.
The following commissioned officers have been ordered to report to you as members of the court to be convened in compliance with the aforesaid warrant:
2d, Commander L.M. Goldsborough; 3d, Commander Andrew K. Long; 4th, Commander G. A. Van Brunt; 5th, Commander Zach. F Johnston; 6th, Lieutenant E. Lloyd Handy; 7th, Lieutenant John B. Marchand; 8th, Lieutenant Joseph W. Revere; 9th, Lieutenant George F. Emmons; 10th, Lieutenant Joshua Humphreys; 11th, Lieutenant Simon F. Blunt; 12th, Lieutenant William E. LeRoy; 13th, Lieutenant Catesby Ap R.Jones.
Marine officers, supernumeraries.—1st Lieutenant F. B. McNeil, 1st Lieutenant Joseph W. Curtis.
William Norris, esq., judge advocate.
And for so doing, this shali be unto you and all concerned a full and sufficient warrant and authority.
Given under my hand and seal, on board the flag ship Savannah, at