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ter which had been forwarded to him requiring salutes to be fired on that day, and on the day followiug; and that he (Capt. Atchison) was to give directions for these sulutes being fired accordingly.
At the same time Major Addams, anxious for the due performance of the duty, proceeded bimself to Fort St. Angelo; and on sending for the prisoner the latter came forward, and put into his hands the letter of renonstrance, dated the same day, which is also referred to in the charge.
In this letter the Prisoner acknowledges the receipt of the order, and that he had received the instructions in question from Lieut. Dawson. He then proceeds to say, that it is with the greatest concern he states that he has found that he is required to carry into effect part of the cerenonies of idolatrous acts of worship, which he considers those mentioned in the letter to be. He then adds, that as he deeply feels that if he takes any part in these ceremonies he should then be relinquishing his most conscientious principles as a Christian and a Protestant, he most earnestly begs that Major Addams would endeavour to have him exonerated from the execution of those orders. | This letter, Mr. President and Gentlemen, he wrote in the quarters of an inferior officer, Lieut. Dawson, who had already remonstrated, and from whom he (Capt. Atchison) took the very instructions on which he was himself required to act :-and further, this letter he presents to his commanding officer at about thirty-five minutes after eleven o'clock, giving his reasons against firing a salute ordered at noon.
I consider the prisoner's conduct in this particular as aggravated by a deep shade, tending most strongly to the destruction of military discipline, and affording the most dangerous encouragement to insubordination, inasmuch as it exhibited the direct approbation on his own part, as a superior officer, of a like line of insubordination on the part of his immediate inferior, Lieutenant Dawson, of whose errors it was certainly his duty to endeavour the removal, and not to approve of them, as he did, by his own conduct.
If the baneful consequences to be apprehended from a breach of discipline passing unchecked in any individual are great, they become so more especially when the example, as in the present instance, works its way upwards, and clothes an offence already committed with the plausible though unfounded justification, of its meeting imitation from quarters higher than that in which it originated. It is become, therefore, my duty to press the present case to the fullest extent on the attention of the Court, not only as it exists in its original light, but as it is calculated to develope the most serious consequences in the way of precedent, if not visited with the highest penalty of that strict military law whose first and most essential principles it so deliberately violated.,
The simple question before the Court, according to all the experience I have had, is merely a point of military discipline. The crime with which the Prisoner stands charged is, in fact, unqualified disobedience, for which there cannot be found even the shadow of justification.
“ According to military law, Mr. President and Gentlemen, an implicit 66 obedience to command may be termed (and is) the chief military vir. « tue, in relation to which all others are secondary ;-whence may be 66 inferred that the absence, or want, or absolute renunciation, of that " quality constitutes one of the greatest military offences, and is liable to
the most exemplary punishment.
" It is indeed evident that none of the purposes for which an army is “ constituted could be effected but by the concentration of its force, only “ to be obtained by the unity of command ; whilst an utter annihilation 66 of its efficiency would take place if the individual members of that 6 body were permitted to obey orders, or not, at their own discretion, “ It is in this view, therefore, and in order to insure consistency, energy, 6 and effect in its operations, and security to itself, that the Constitution “ has submitted the actions of the army to the directions and control (in “ every thing) of one supreme commander, from whom, by a number of “ communicating branches in an uninterrupted course, all orders descend “ to the individuals, near or remote, attached to the military profession, “ and every officer and soldier is bound implicitly to obey."*
* I have taken the liberty of marking this passage, having found, when arranging these papers for the printer, that it is a literal extract from a most respectable work on martial law, by E. Samuel; a book which the Prosecutor some time ago recommended very strongly to my attention.
And as this paragraph stands between two others, both of which are absolutely necessary to understand this author's sentiments on the subject, I supply them in this note.
At page 283 Mr. Samuel begins this subject.-" The only offence which remains to “ be considered under this article (Mutiny) is disobedience to the lawful commands of “ a superior officer.” Then follows the above extracted passage. After it Mr. Samuel continues,—“ So general is the rule that the orders of a superior shall be imperative “ on the military inferior, that it will not admit of exception, unless in the instance “ when the orders, or more accurately speaking, the things commanded to be done, are “ directly repugnant or contrary to law. In the case only where the orders would “afford no legal excuse in a court of law for the act committed under them, can the “ inferior question or hesitate to obey the commands he receives from his superiors, “ such as if he were directed in a moment of delirium by his officer to fire on a peace“able and unoffending bystander, or if such a thing could be supposable, to plunder “ the property, or commit, or assist in committing, some personal injury on a fellow“subject. It is only then in orders which, if executed, would effect some palpable “ outrage against moral or religious obligations, which all laws profess to regard, " and which cannot be superseded by the partial regulations of a particular society, “ that soldiers can hope to find indemnity in resistance to the commands of a supe
Prompt, ready, unhesitating obedience in soldiers to their superiors is so necessary to the safety of the military state, and to the due accomplishment of every thing entrusted to it, that nothing, in fact, could be. more detrimental and destructive than to have it understood, or even for one moment supposed, that any instance of military disobedience, hesitation, or remonstrance, could pass unquestioned. “ rior. And even then, when the alternative is between two offences, and the choice “ must be determined by the adoption of the less instead of the greater, of the dis“ obedience of the command, or of the commission of some outrageous civil or “ military crime; the responsibility will always be upon the inferior, and in this case “ a dreadful responsibility, to shew that the commands which he would otherwise be “ bound to obey, are manifestly and palpably illegal; else he may involve himself in “the guilt, and certainly in the penalty of a positive crime, under the supposition or “ pretence of avoiding an imaginary one."
And a little further on Mr. Samuel adds,-“ Except in the solitary instance where * " the illegality of an order is glaringly apparent on the face of it, a military subordi
“nate is compelled to a complete and undeviating obedience to the very letter of the “ command received."
I believe most persons will agree in the sentiments of Mr. Samuel, thus taken entire: and I indulge hopes this publication will shew that the conduct for which I have been tried, and my defence of that conduct, rested on principles similar to what Mr. Samuel has advanced. These proceedings will shew,-1. That the officers of Government were transgressing their authority, and attempting to violate a personal right, in sending me to discharge a service which I was not engaged or bound to perform under any circumstances; the service as specified in the orders being manifestly not a military service in any one sense; this is now proved by the abandonment of this service, and the way in which it is at present conducted, as mentioned in the Advertisement. 2. The things commanded to be done were directly repugnant and contrary to the acknowledged law of God as received in the British empire, (which law is declared to be part and parcel of the law of the land,) and this not merely in some general respect, but repugnant and contrary to specified points of the practical religion of the empire as by law established, as well as of our constitutional law; and if I had been forced to act as required, it would have been a palpable outrage on my moral and religious obligations, as publicly acknowledged. 3. As my personal rights in the national religion are as clearly defined as the rights I have in my property, and the undisturbed enjoyment of both are as dear to me and as sacred in the eye of the Constitution as the same belonging to my fellow subjects who are not in the army, I was allowed to assert and protect my own rights as much as if I had not been in the army: and the rules of discipline cannot lawfully be used to make me violate, as it were, my own rights, by forcing me to give them up, any more than they could lawfully be used to make me an instrument or agent in violating the rights of a fellow subject in his religion or property.
I wish it to be observed here, that I did not mutiny against, or even disobey, my superiors when they were acting against me in the manner which will be seen. Wishing to show every respect to the service and to my superiors, I simply petitioned in behalf of my rights, in the way the articles of war, as much as the constitution, have provided for officers when they have any cause of complaint,
Having troubled you, Mr. President and Gentlemen, with these few general remarks, I shall conclude with requesting your application of them to the offence with which the prisoner stands charged ; and which it is now my duty to prove in evidence, it being an offence of a most extraordinary nature, holding out a highly dangerous example to the army in general.
Happily for the well-being of that army and for the interests of the state, the present question is brought before a competent tribunal, with whom it will rest to enforce those sound principles of military obedience and subordination to which it has become my duty to call your most serious attention.
(Signed) GEORGE RAITT,
D. A. G.
The Prosecutor here produces to the Court the letter, as follows, (marked No. I.) which is read, and ordered by the Court to be inserted on the Proceedings.
LETTER, No. I.
Chief Secretary's Office, . Sir,
Valetta, 4th Aug. 1823. I have the honour to acquaint you that application has been made to Government for salutes from Castle St. Angelo and St. Michael's Tower on the 9th and 10th instant, being the eve and anniversary of St. Lorenzo, the tutelar saint of Vittorioso.
His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to grant salutes on the 9th instant at noon, and on the day following at half past ten A.M., and in the evening during the procession, from Castle St. Angelo, accompanied by the tolling of the Castle bell, which His Honour requests you will order to be carried into effect : but the situation of St. Michael's Tower being in the vicinity of the naval arsenal, His Honour cannot allow of any salute being fired from that place.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant,
(Signed) H. GREIG, A.C.S. Approved if customary, by order,
(Signed) C. BAYLEY, M.S. To the Officer commanding the Royal Artillery,
Lieutenant and Acting-Adjutant Somerville of the Royal Artillery being called on by the Prosecutor, is duly sworn, after having had the charge against the prisoner read to him,- Q. by Prosecutor. Who was acting Adjutant of the Royal Artillery at Malta in August last ?--A. I was.
Q. Do you recollect any salutes being ordered to be fired from Fort St. Angelo in the aforesaid month ?-A. I do.
Q. On whạt days?--A. On the 9th and 10th of August. "Q. Did you communicate any orders to Capt. Atchison, verbally or in writing, upon the subject of such salutes ?-A. I wrote to Captain Atchison by order of Major Addams, desiring him to give directions for those salutes being fired.
Q. Is this a copy of the letter you allude to ?--A. It is.
Here the officiating Judge Advocate reads the letter, which is ordered by the Court to be inserted on the proceedings, (and marked No. II.)
LETTER, No. II.
Fort St. Elmo, Aug. 9, 1823.
· I am directed by Major Addams to inform you, that you will proceed to St. Angelo with as little delay as possible. On your arrival you will apply to Lieut. Dawson for the letter which was forwarded to him, requiring salutes to be fired on this day and to-morrow, and that you will give directions for those salutes being fired accordingly.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant, (Signed) JOHN SOMERVILLE,
Lieut. R. Artlry. Act. Adj. Capt. Atchison, Ri. Artly,
&c. &c. &c.
Q. About what time of the day did you send this letter (now read) to Capt. Atchison ?-A. To the best of my recollection about ten o'clock.
Q. Did you receive any answer to that communication either verbally or in writing ?-A. I did not.
Cross-examination. Q. from the Prisoner. Did you ever communicate to me any displeasure on the part of Major Addams for my alleged disobedience of orders, or for writing the letter of the 9th of August last ?--A. I did not.