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Manley Power, in order that the necessary directions may be given for the re-assembling of the Court.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
(Signed) J BECKETT. . P. S. The documents which accompanied your letter of the 9th of April, transmitting the above mentioned proceedings, are not returned herewith, as they are stated to be copies only of certain Papers that had come to your hands, during and subsequent to the trials; and the originals are therefore in your possession.
Captain Bayley, 36th Rgt.
The Court opens : and the prisoner Captain Thomas Atchison, Royal
Artillery, being called in,—the following letter was read.
Downing Street, May 31st, 1824. The object of this letter is to inform you, that I have thought it advisable to transmit the written Defences of Lieutenant Dawson and Captain Atchison, under seal to those officers, and under cover to you; and I have to desire, that when the Court shall be re-assembled for the revision of its proceedings in their cases, the same may be handed by the Court to these Gentlemen respectively, in order to their being permitted to read the same for the information and consideration of the Court, before proceeding to their deliberation and judgment. You have received further directions relative to these trials, in two other letters, which I have addressed to you.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
(Signed) J BECKETT. Captain Bayley, 36th Rgt.
The President then delivered to the prisoner a packet (sealed) from the Judge Advocate General, which Captain Atchison read to the Court as his Defence.
[In this packet, I received the following letter.]
Downing Street, May 31st, 1894. I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your two letters of the 9th ult., transmitting to me a statement, which you had prepared to read as your Defence, before the Court Martial, which had been lately
assembled at Malta, for the investigation of certain charges preferred against you; together with other documents relative to your trial; and explaining the reasons which had induced you to send them to me.
In acknowledging this communication, I beg leave to inform you, that I have given the whole my best consideration.
I have further to acquaint you, that the Court Martial, before which you were tried, is directed to re-assemble, and revise its proceedings ;and that when the Court shall be re-assembled, you will be permitted to read the whole of the statement, which you had prepared as your Defence; and which you complain to me in your letter' you had not been allowed the opportunity of doing, when the Court Martial was originally assembled.
I have thought it adviseable to return the Papers above mentioned to you, under cover to the Deputy Judge Advocate, (Captain Bayley,) who has my directions to deliver them to you, when the Court shall be re-assembled.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient humble Servant, Capt. Thomas Atchison,
J BECKETT. Royal Regt. of Artillery.
After perusing this letter, I read to the Court the Defence returned
to me with the restored passages, as it is now printed.]
Proceedings of the Court after the complete Defence was read. The prisoner being asked by the Court if he has any evidence to call, declines calling any.
The prosecutor being asked by the Court if he has any thing to offer, answers, that he has already replied to Captain Atchison's Defence, and declines saying any thing further.
The Court closes.
The Court adjourns until Saturday the 24th instant, at 10 o'clock A. M.
Saturday, 24th July, 1824. The Court meets pursuant to adjournment at 10 o'clock, A. M., and finishes its proceedings on this trial.
OPINION AND SENTENCE.
The Court having heard the Defence, and re-considered its proceedings and former sentence on this trial, is of opinion as follows:-viz.
That he the Prisoner, Captain Thomas Atchison of the Royal Artillery, is guilty of the charge preferred against him :-viz.
6 Disobedience of orders, insubordinate and unofficerlike conduct, in < not carrying into execution the orders that were conveyed to him by « letter from Acting Adjutant Somerville, on or about the 9th of August « last, desiring that he would give directions for firing salutes at Fort “ St. Angelo, on the 9th and 10th of that month;
6 And for writing a letter dated the 9th of August, addressed to “ Major Addams, his Commanding Officer, hesitating and remonstrating 6 against carrying the said orders into effect;"
The above conduct being highly subversive of military discipline, and holding forth a most dangerous example to the British army; being in breach of the articles of war; does therefore, on a most attentive reconsideration of the whole of this officer's case, sentence him, the Prisoner, Captain Thomas Atchison of the Royal Artillery, to be dismissed His Majesty's Service. (Signed)
F. RIVAROLA, C. BAYLEY, Captain,
Colonel and President. Officiating Judge Advocate. [The official Copy of the Proceedings is thus signed,]
A true Copy,
(Signed) J. Scollick, Judge Advocate General's Office. 18th July, 1825.
Valetta, 15th November, 1824. The following letter from Field Marshal, His Royal Highness the Commander in Chief, is published for the information of the forces, serving in Malta and its dependencies; and, in consequence thereof, Captain Thomas Atchison, and Lieut. George Francis Dawson, of the Royal Artillery, will cease to receive pay as officers in His Majesty's service from this date. ,
Horse-Guards, 5th October, 1894. Having laid before the King the proceedings of the two General Courts Martial which have been lately held in the island of Malta,
The first at La Valetta, on the 1st day of March, 1824, and subsequent days, and re-assembled for revision on the 19th July following, for the trial of Lieutenant George Francis Dawson of the Royal Artillery who was arraigned upon the undermentioned charges, viz.
First, For disobedience of orders, insubordinate and unofficer-like conduct, when stationed at Fort St. Angelo, in the island of Malta, in hesitating and declining to carry into execution the orders he had received, on the 6th of August last, for firing salutes from that fort on the 9th and 10th of the same mouth, according to established usage.
And for having written two letters, dated the 7th and 9th of August, to Major Addams, Commanding the Royal Artillery, remonstrating against carrying the aforesaid orders into effect.
Secondly, For writing a letter, dated 11th August, 1823, of a highly insubordinate nature, and shewing a spirit of opposition to the authority of his commanding officer, (Major Addams) for having given orders to Serjeant M'Clelland of that corps, to fire salutes at Fort St. Angelo, on the 10th August last; and for having ordered the expenditure of stores, or the execution of regimental orders, without such orders passing through him, (Lieut. Dawson) he well knowing that his own conduct, and that of another officer, had led to the measures against which he was remons strating. The above conduct being highly subversive of military discipline, and holding forth a most dangerous example to the British Army.
Additional Charge, by Brevet Major Addams, Royal Artillery.
For neglect of duty and disobedience of orders, in not giving directions to the detachment under his command for firing a salute at Fort St. Angelo, on the 9th of August last, at noon. And in being absent from Cavalier St. Angelo (in the aforesaid Fort) without leave, when such salute was fired by the said detachment.
Upon which charges the Court came to the following decision.
The Court having maturely and deliberately weighed and considered the evidence adduced in support of the prosecution, as well as the prisoner having declined making any defence, is of opinion as follows, viz. :
With respect to the first Charge, That he is guilty of the same. With respect to the second Charge, That he is guilty of the same.
With respect to the additional Charge, That he is guilty of the first part of the Charge, viz.:
“ Neglect of duty and disobedience of orders in not giving directions 66 to the detachment under his command for firing a salute at Fort St. 6 Angelo, on the 9th of August last.” !
And with respect to the second and last part of the said Charge, viz:
5 In being absent from Cavalier St. Angelo, (in the aforesaid Fort) 6 without leave, when such salute was fired by the said detachment,"
The Court find him guilty only to the extent of being absent ; it appearing not to have been the practice in the Royal Artillery for officers to attend these salutes; and therefore does acquit him of being absent without leave.
The Court having found the Prisoner guilty of the First and Second Charges and first part of the Additional Charge, and to the extent as set forth, regarding the second and last part of the said Additional Charge, exhibited against him, being in breach of the Articles of War; Does therefore sentence him, the prisoner, Lieutenant George Francis Dawson, of the Royal Artillery, to be cashiered and rendered incapable of serving His Majesty in any military capacity whatsoever.
The Court referring to the proceedings on record, in regard to the Prisoner's Defence, feels itself called upon to animadvert in strong terms on the extreme pertinacity of his conduct on this particular head ; and to express its surprize and displeasure at the decision he thought proper to make, of withdrawing his Defence altogether after repeated warnings.
It could not but be the wish of the Court in this, as in every other case to see the prisoner avail himself, within the bounds which the nature of his case warranted, of every possible means for justification from the Charges on which he was arraigned.
He had been allowed by the Court (according to usual custom) a clerk; and, in addition, the constant assistance of a friend Captain Richard Harrison Pearson of the Royal Navy, aided by a professional gentleman, for the purpose of taking notes.
The whole case had received the most patient investigation, as the several cross-examinations shew; and the prisoner was allowed (at his own request) from Saturday to the following Thursday to prepare his Defence.
It was under these circumstances that he proceeded, and to a very considerable length, to read to the Court the Defence referred to; in which he was not interrupted, until he had so far travelled out of the Charges altogether (by frequently reading largely from the Homilies of the Church of England and the Holy Scriptures) that the Court felt itself compelled to take the measures which appear on record ;—measures which afforded the prisoner repeated opportunities of correcting his mis. conceptions in this particular; and of returning to that proper and allowed line of statement and defence, which alone the Court could, in the discharge of its duties, permit the prisoner to pursue.
The consequence was on the part of the prisouer (after repeated admoritions from the Court) a deliberate withdrawing of his Defence.
And, finally, the Court cannot close its proceedings, without lamenting that a different line of conduct had not been pursued by both prosecu