Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

be sent home for that purpose. But as the Court of whose proceedings we are now to give a brief account was not the first which had been held upon the transactions affecting Colonel Crawley and his regiment, but had been preceded by a previous court-martial in India, it will be necessary, in order to make the present proceedings intelligible, to give a short resume of the earlier stages of the case, and of the circumstances under which these final proceedings were taken. Lieutenant-Colonel Crawley, an officer of thirty years' standing, and, as far as can be ascertained, of previously unblemished character, was appointed early in 1861 to the command of the 6th Dragoons, then at Ahmednuggur, in the Deccan. Up to that time there was nothing to show that its previously high reputation had been forfeited, but Colonel Crawley, going out fresh from home service, saw several things in the regiment which excited his displeasure, and set about introducing reforms with considerable energy. His manner appears to have been somewhat injudicious, and feuds arose which soon divided the regiment into hostile cliques. Hasty expressions and indiscreet acts were remembered and reduced to writing, and in less than a year from the time when Colonel Crawley assumed command of the Inniskillings, Paymaster Smales—whose name and conduct were very prominent throughout these proceedings—had been brought once before a court of inquiry, and once before a general court-martial. At the latter trial, familiarly known as the Mhow Court-martial, all the accumulated ill-will which had been growing for months found vent. There was hard swearing on all sides, and ultimately the finding of that tribunal, though receiving the approval of Indian military authorities, was quashed by the advice of the law officers in England. Painful as were the disclosures made then, they never would have led to the present trial had it not been for the lamentable incident which roused public feeling in England to a pitch of indignation unequalled since the days of Governor Wall. Shortly stated, the version which reached this country was that three non-commissioned officers who were to have given important evidence before the Mhow Court-martial were arrested by order of Colonel Crawley, and illegally kept in close confinement for forty days during the full heat of an Indian summer. At the end of that time one of the non-commissioned officers had died, another was a lunatic, and the third, whose constitution must have been very strong, was released, by order of superior authority. In the case of Sergeant-Major Lilley, who sank under the confinement, the circumstances were peculiarly affecting. It was alleged that he and his wife, who was in the last stage of consumption, were lodged in a single room rather less than fifteen feet square, originally a stable. Rumour added that the roof was bomb-proof, and that it consequently retained the heat like an oven, never having time to grow cool before it again attracted the rays of the sun. It was further stated that, in order effectually to prevent any communication between Lilley or his wife and persons without, orders had been given to station the sentry for the future inside, instead of outside, the room, so that he might keep John Lilley, and consequently his wife—who was afflicted with chronic diarrhoea—under his eyes by night as well as by day. The public indignation excited by these statements—how far founded in fact the evidence hereafter to be stated will show—was further aggravated by the circumstance that the Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir Hugh Rose, had in a public. order attributed the death of Sergeant-Major Lilley to his own intemperance. The brief reference which has now been made to the Mhow Court-martial was necessary in order to explain the subsequent occurrences; but at the Aldershot Court-martial the charges preferred against Colonel Crawley by the JudgeAdvocate were limited to two, both turning on the circumstances immediately connected with the death of Sergeant Lilley. Colonel Crawley himself was anxious to extend the scope of the inquiry, with the view of showing that he had grounds, or believed he had grounds, for every thing which he had done since he took command of the regiment. The Horse Guards, on the contrary, desired to exclude all reference to previous transactions, to the trial of Paymaster Smales, or the story of the Mhow Court-martial. The following were the charges preferred:— “1. For conduct unbecoming an officer, and to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, in having at Mhow, during the month of May, A.D. 1862, when the Regimental Sergeant-Major Lilley was confined in close arrest, caused the orders under which he was so confined to be carried into effect with unnecessary and undue severity, whereby the said Regimental Sergeant-Major Lilley and his wife were subjected to great and grievous hardships and sufferings. “2. For conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, in having at Mhow, on or about the 7th day of June, A.D. 1862, in the course of an address made by him before the general court-martial which was then being held for the trial of Paymaster T. Smales, 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, expressed himself in the following language, or in words to the like effect:- Close arrest necessarily implies a sentry over a prisoner, but it does not necessitate his being placed over a prisoner's wife or family, and I can assure the Court that no person could be more shocked than I was when I learned from the evidence of Sergeant-Major Lilley that his wife had been incommoded or annoyed by the precaution taken for his safe custody. It was Lieutenant and Adjutant Fitzsimon's fault if any such thing occurred, for it was his duty as Adjutant to have seen the post assigned to the sentry, and to have taken care that no such improper interference with the privacy of the Sergeant-Major's wife could have taken place. As it was, immediately I became acquainted with the statement of Sergeant-Major Lilley, I sent off orders to have the sentry removed to a post where he could perform his duty equally well without annoying or interfering with Mrs. Lilley.’ Thereby representing that the said Lieutenant and Adjutant Fitzsimon was in fault for what had occurred, whereas in truth and in fact the said Lieutenant-Colonel Crawley then well knew that the said Lieutenant and Adjutant Fitzsimon had acted in the said matter by the express order and direction of the said Lieutenant-Colonel Crawley.” The following officers composed the Court:-President—Lieutenant-General Sir George Augustus Wetherall, K.C.B. Members—Major-General John Lawrenson; Major-General David Russell, C.B.; Major-General Randal Rumley; Major-General Edward Cooper Hodge, C.B.; Colonel Robert Wardlaw, 1st Dragoons; Colonel Gloucester Gambier, C.B., Royal Artillery; Colonel Hon. George Talbot Devereux, Royal Artillery; Colonel Thomas George Alexander Oakes, 12th Lancers; Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Sawyer, 6th Dragoon Guards; Lieutenant-Colonel William Wynne Lodder, 59th Foot; Lieutenant-Colonel John Neptune Sargent, 3rd Foot; Lieutenant-Colonel Soame Gambier Jenyns, C.B., 13th Hussars; Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Maurice Jones, 73rd Foot; LieutenantColonel Francis Douglas Grey, 37th Foot. Officiating Judge-Advocate—Colonel James Kennard Pipon, unattached. Prosecutor—Colonel Sir Alfred Horsford, K.C.B. The prisoner was assisted in his defence by his counsel, Mr. William Vernon Harcourt. The difficulty is to give, within such narrow limits as our space can afford, any clear account of the voluminous evidence and proceedings of this extraordinary trial. A very brief summary of the facts deposed to by the witnesses, and of the main points of the accusation and defence, is all that can be attempted in this place. Colonel Crawley, having been asked whether he would plead guilty or not guilty, rose, and, addressing the Court, made a protest against being called upon to plead, because the charges were so limited that he would be unable to place the whole of the circumstances before the Court, and to disabuse the public mind of the matters which had been stated to his prejudice. He described himself as having been greatly maligned by the press both of India and England. He also read a lengthened correspondence between himself and the authorities at the Horse Guards, in which he had demanded in effect to be permitted to go into all the circumstances which led to the court-martial at Mhow. The official prosecutor objected that the matter had been fully considered by the authorities, and that the Judge-Advocate was of opinion that the charges on which the prisoner was to be tried were sufficient in law. The Court then retired to another room, and on their again taking their seats, the President said that it was the opinion of the Court that they ought to proceed to trial on the charges as framed. Colonel Crawley then pleaded “Not Guilty.” Sir A. Horsford, the official prosecutor, then addressed the Court, and said there were two charges. The first alleged that Sergeant-Major Lilley and his wife were subjected to grievous sufferings and undue severity, for which the prisoner was alone responsible. To substantiate this charge evidence would be produced, with models of the buildings in which the sergeant-major was confined; and their attention would be drawn to the constitution and habits of the sergeant-major, and how far such a man would be affected by the confinement; secondly, they would have medical evidence of the actual consequences; and then the question would be whether such sufferings were caused by the undue severity with which the order for close arrest was carried out. As to the length of time during which the confinement lasted, he did not consider the blame to be imputable to the prisoner, except to the extent which he (Sir A. Horsford) would now indicate. It should be borne in mind that Colonel Crawley received an order from the commander-in-chief in Bombay to keep Sergeant-Major Lilley in close confinement till Paymaster Smales's trial was finally adjourned. Therefore, so long as that order was in force Colonel Crawley was not responsible, but the length of time (by the strange terms of the order) and the indefinite duration assigned by the order to the imprisonment bore upon the charge, inasmuch as the officer entrusted with its execution ought to have made it as little grievous as possible from the commencement of its execution, and it was for the consideration of the Court what the prisoner had done, and what he had failed to do in that respect. It would be proved that, on post-mortem examination, the death was found not attributable to drinking intoxicating liquors, but to apoplexy caused by close confinement; and that the annoyances to which Lilley was subjected during his confinement contributed to break down his health, and that there were no medical reasons to suppose that he would not, but for these, have been in perfect health at the time when he died. After some further observations, the following witnesses were called:– Mr. Scollick, clerk in the Advocate-General's office, who produced the proceedings of the court-martial at Mhow, on Paymaster Smales, in April, 1862. Lieutenant and Adjutant Thomas Joseph Fitzsimon, of the 6th Dragoons, was then examined. He said Colonel Crawley sent for him on the 26th of April, 1862, and asked, did he know that a conspiracy was going on against him? Witness said he did not. The colonel replied that witness did not do his duty; that as adjutant he should know every thing. He then said that SergeantMajors Lilley, Wakefield, and Duval were in conspiracy against him, and he ordered witness to place them under arrest, and said he would speak to General Farrell as to putting sentries over them, and would then let witness know. Afterwards he gave witness a written order to place sentries over their quarters, and no one to be allowed to communicate with them, verbally or otherwise, until further orders, and that during Lilley's arrest Sergeant-Major Cotton would act as regimental sergeant-major. That was on the 26th April, and the sentries were posted accordingly in the front verandah, outside the building (here the witness referred to the model). A few days afterwards Colonel Crawley asked witness did he know what “close arrest" was, and he said that close arrest meant that sentries should not lose sight of their prisoners night or day, and he ordered the sentries to be placed inside. Sergeant-Major Cotton then remarked that Lilley was a married man. The colonel answered, “Officers or soldiers, married or single, I don't care a damn, the duty shall be done,” and he ordered Cotton to see the duty done. Witness believes that Mrs. Lilley was then sick, and Lilley had to rub liniment on her chest every day. Major Sweeney, Captain Weir, and Quarter-Master Wooden were present at that order, and Sergeant-Major Cotton, if not actually in the room, must have been just outside. Witness then laid the written order for posting the sentries before the colonel for approval, and he added one or two words in his own handwriting. Witness had no copy of the orders. Witness was ill about that time, and Cornet Snell became adjutant (the 4th of May), and witness resumed duty on the 16th May. On the 22nd May he was suspended. Witness knew Lilley since 1859. Lilley had always the highest character for sobriety. Witness never received orders from Colonel Crawley to remove the sentries from inside Lilley's quarters. On returning from leave of absence at Lucknow, witness wrote a letter to the acting adjutant for the information of Sir Hugh Rose, in consequence of remarks made by Sir Hugh on witness respecting the Mhow Court-martial, and also in consequence of remarks made by Colonel Crawley at the court-martial. On the day after witness wrote that letter Colonel Crawley sent for witness, made some remarks on witness's letter, and gave it back to witness, saying that if witness wished he would forward it, or witness might make changes in it if he wished. Witness made some changes in it, and returned it with a request to forward it to Sir H. Rose. In a fortnight afterwards Colonel Crawley sent for witness again, and read a letter written by Major Champion by order of General Farrell (produced), dated November 12th, 1862. In consequence of General Farrell's letter, characterizing witness's appeal to Sir Hugh Rose as an act of insubordination, witness did not forward his letter to Sir Hugh Rose. The letter from Major Champion, assistant-adjutant-general, was now read. It said that General Farrell considered Lieutenant Fitzsimon's appeal to Sir Hugh Rose to be a very insubordinate course, and highly dangerous to his own prospects. “The major-general gathers from your letter (No. 429) that you have already pointed this out to him, and endeavoured to open his eyes to the perversions he labours under ; but, to make sure of this, and in order that he may have full opportunity of judging what the opinion of superior authority must be in his ill-judged appeal, you are permitted to give him the opportunity of withdrawing it after he has perused your letter (No. 429); and should he after so doing fail to perceive that he is likely to bring on himself professional ruin, the major-general will then forward his appeal, with remarks on same, for consideration of the commander-in-chief.” The letter of the witness, which General Farrell considered to be insubordinate, was then called for, and the witness produced it. It was dated the 3rd November. It expressed regret that Sir Hugh Rose considered his testimony at Captain Smales's court-martial to be unsatisfactory, and repeated that in posting the sentries he had simply obeyed Colonel Crawley; it denied that he was at all blind, as alleged by Colonel Crawley, and stated that he had brought the matter before him (Sir H. Rose) not through any disrespect for Colonel Crawley, but to remove an unfavourable impression as to himself, which would ruin his military prospects. On being recommended to withdraw it, witness wrote a conditional letter of withdrawal. Lieutenant Fitzsimon was cross-examined at considerable length. Attempts were made to show inconsistencies between his evidence in chief and in crossexamination. The witness stated that he did not know that at the time the sergeant-major was under arrest Mrs. Lilley, so far from being ill and confined to her home, was able to go about the camp, and did, in fact, go about and converse with her friends. Of course, if Mrs. Lilley had been up and about, the witness could have gone to her house to post the sentries without inconveniencing her. With respect to the second bungalow being bomb-proof, he should say that it would be more unhealthy than if it was not. In writing the letter of remonstrance to Colonel Crawley, the witness obtained the assistance of Quarter-Master Wooden. He showed it to several officers. He never gave the letter or a copy of it to Captain Smales; and, having withdrawn the charges he made against Colonel Crawley, he only renewed them when the matter attracted the attention of the Horse Guards. A letter was put in and read, from Colonel Crawley to the Adjutant-General, dated the 10th of November, 1862, which called attention to the remonstrance of the Lieutenant. When that letter was read to Mr. Fitzsimon he withdrew his charges against his colonel, but only, as he explained, because his letter was declared by General Farrell to be an act of insubordination. Major Champion, of the Bombay Staff, gave important evidence. He said that the bungalow in which Lilley was confined was larger than those usually allotted to sergeants in India. The largest room was 34 feet 6 inches by 16 feet; the two inner rooms 14 feet by 16 feet; the two rear 10 feet square. The building stood on the parade ground. It had a verandah in front. From this two doors communicated with the large room, which had a vaulted roof of masonry. The inner rooms were similarly vaulted. The masonry walls of the bungalow were two feet thick. Sergeant-Major Lilley and his wife had during his confinement free access to five rooms and a verandah. The room in which Lilley was confined was not a “bomb-proof” building formerly occupied as stables, unfit for the occupation of man, and since pulled down. It was not more like an oven than a human habitation; nor was it like the Black Hole at Calcutta. Captain Dunne and his wife and servant occupied a similar house for several months. The counterpart of that bungalow was now the female hospital of the 6th Dragoons. Lilley was removed to the second bungalow on the 6th of May. This was similar to the quarters occupied by the married men of the regiment, and it had the advantage over many married quarters, of having a verandah on two sides instead of one. The witness here described the model of the second bungalow. Cross-examined.—Witness never visited Lilley during his confinement. Wit

« AnteriorContinuar »