STATEMENT OF BREVET LIEUTENANT COLONEL FREEMAN, OF THE MARINE CORPS, COMPLAINING OF THE OPERATION OF THE REGULATIONS FOR THE NAVY, UNDER THE LAW OF 1834, WHICH SUBJECTS THE MARINES TO THE OFFICERS OF THE NAVY, INSTEAD OF THEIR OWN OFFICERS, AND WITH A GENERAL STATEMENT OF THE LAWS AND REGULATIONS RELATING TO THE MARINE CORPS.
COMMUNICATED TO THE SENATE FEBRUARY 15, 1836.
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:
The undersigned memorialist, in behalf of the interests of the service, and what is due to the military rank and character of the senior officers of the United States marine corps, prays respectfully to represent:
That the fourteenth section of the regulations of the navy, for the government of marines in navy yards, (authorized to be applied only by the act of Congress of June, 1834, for the organization of the marine corps,) has been carried into effect, for the first time, in the month of December, 1835, and instructions and orders predicated thereon seem to be construed, and have been applied, to humiliate and degrade the military character and services of the marine corps, as well as the official duties of the field rank which Congress, by the above act, saw proper to create in the corps.
Attention is respectfully asked, therefore, to the fact, that the law, by its provisions, has intended to vest one officer, the colonel commandant, with the immediate military command, detail, and direction of the corps, when serving in the United States, and not attached to sea service, as the records and orders of the Navy Department will fully show. Contrary to all that, however, the colonel commandant has now no appropriate military duty, authority, or command whatever in the corps!
Also, to the lieutenant colonels and majors, having a military rank assimilated with captains in the navy under five years, and commanding separate divisions or detachments of the marines stationed at navy yards for the general purposes of the service, and occupying a portion of the public grounds, which for more than a quarter of a century have been appropriated for the quarters of the officers and men, parade ground for drill and instruction, preparatory for sea or other detached service, considered heretofore, as it should be, distinct, and unconnected with the naval command of the yard, which, in all its detail of duties, is a civil establishment, for construction and preparation, and not a military command or post, for offence or defence, and having no analogy to their service at sea. Yet, under the law, &c., referred to, a lieutenant colonel in the marine corps is deprived of all trust or command pertaining to his rank, and the naval commandant of the yard, whether of superior rank or not, is authorized to control and dispose of the services of the officers and privates of the marine command as he pleases, and to punish, at his will, to the extent of a dozen lashes with a cat-o'-nine-tails, a private in the marine corps, for any trivial offence, as his discretion or caprice may direct!—when that punishment is prohibited by law in every other military corps in the service, excepting for the high crime of desertion, and then to be inflicted by the sentence of a general court-martial.
It is believed impossible that such marked degradation and loss of standing to a corps of officers and men, who have served their country on every sea and shore, and on whom malignity itself is defied to point one single blot on its fair fame and faithful services, can be known, and the law remain unrepealed which has thus divested the corps of its military" character, by an amalgamation with the navy, and under navy officers, when serving in the United States.
This appeal is respectfully, but confidently, made to the Congress of the United States, trusting to their justice in protecting every branch of the public service, the weak as well as the strong, with the cherished hope that the accumulated wrongs and grievances by which the marine corps is now borne down may be corrected.
The orders and instructions referred to, in December, 1835, are annexed, in paper marked A. Paper marked B has been carefully arranged and compiled, to explain the peculiar causes leading to the evils referred to.
Asking but justice, this representation, with the accompanying explanations, are respectfully submitted, by
WM. H. FREEMAN, Brevet Lieut. Colonel and Major U. S. Marine Corps.
Washington City, February 15, 1836.
Washington City, December 7, 1835.
Until it shall be otherwise ordered, number fourteen of the regulations for the government of the United States navy yards, adopted on the 17th day of September, 1817, shall be observed at all the navy yards; which regulation is in these words:
"The guard of marines detached for the protection of the yards shall, while doing duty in the yard, be subject to the orders of the commandant, and receive from him their instructions as to the duties they are to perform therein; and all persons enlisted into the service of the United States, and doing duty under the orders of the commandant of the yard, shall, for every offence, be subject to the act for the better government of the navy of the United States, and punished in the same manner as if the offence had been committed at sea."
I am, very respectfully, &c.,
Col. A. Henderson, commanding U. S. Marine Corps, Head-Quarters.
Head-Quarters of the Marine Corps, Washington, December 1, 1835.
I have received from the President an order, of which the enclosed is a copy, and I transmit it to you for your government.
I am, respectfully, &c.,
ARCH. HENDERSON, Colonel Commandant.
To Lieut. Col. W. H. Freeman, commanding Marines, Boston, Massachusetts.
Navy Department, December 11, 1835.
Under the order of the President, of the 7th instant, respecting the marine guard, it is considered that, until it shall be otherwise ordered, all orders and other communications, between the colonel commandant and staff of the marine corps and the officers of that corps who are or may be stationed in the navy yards, are to be sent, unsealed, to the commandant of the yard at which the marine officer may be stationed. The commanding marine officers, stationed at navy yards, may suspend from duty the marine officers under their command, and confine the non-commissioned officers and privates, if their offences should require it; but they are to furnish the commandant of the yard with a statement of their offences, within twenty-four hours, for his information and further orders. They will also make daily report, to the commandant of the yard, of the number and state of the detachment or guard under their command; and generally upon all subjects which relate to their duties in the navy yard.
They will also make such reports in relation to the pay, clothing, or subsistence of the men under their command, to the colonel commandant or staff of the corps, as he may require, or which may be necessary to enable him and the staff to perform their duties; and duplicates of such reports, made to the commandant of the yard, as the colonel commandant may direct.
The enclosed copy of a letter of this day's date, to the commandants of the navy yards, will make you further acquainted with the powers to be exercised and duties to be performed by them, in relation to the marines.
I am, respectfully, &c.,
Col. A. Henderson, commanding U. S. Marine Corps, Head-Quarters.
A, No. 1.
Navy Department, December 11, 1835.
Sir: Enclosed is a copy of a letter this day written to the colonel commandant of the marine corps, from which you will learn the views of this Department in relation to the channels of official correspondence between the colonel commandant and staff, and officers of the marine corps which are or may be stationed in the navy yards; to the authority which the commanding marine officer may exercise over those of their corps under their command, and the reports which they are to make to the commandants of the yards.
When marine officers or privates shall be reported to you by their commanding officer for misconduct, and you shall, after consultation with such commanding officer, consider judicial proceedings to be necessary, you will cause the officer complained of to be furnished with a copy of the complaint or report, and forward to this Department the original, with such explanations as the officer may choose to make, and such remarks of your own as may best enable the Department to decide what further proceedings to adopt. Trivial offences committed by non-commissioned officers and privates may be punished by the marine officers, with your sanction, according to the provisions and under the restrictions of the law.
You will consider it your duty to transmit the orders which may be transmitted by the colonel commandant to the officers to whom they may be addressed, unless, in your opinion, the public interest should require their detention; but, in any such case, you will give immediate notice of the fact to this Department, and to the colonel commandant, with your reasons for detaining the same. You will also forward all official communications to the colonel commandant and the staff, from the marine officers stationed in the navy yard under your command; but, if you think it necessary, you will forward duplicates to this Department, with your observations upon them.
Until more extended and definite instructions or regulations can be prepared, you will limit your supervision of the marines, in the yard under your command, to those objects and occasions which are necessary to the proper performance of your duties and the security of the public interests.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Head-Quarters of the Marine Corps, Washington, December 15, 1835.
I transmit to you, through the Navy Department, for your observance, the accompanying documents.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
ARCH. HENDERSON, Colonel Commandant.
To Lieut. Col. W H. Freeman, commanding Marines, Boston Massachusetts.
With the brief memorial, and the orders and instructions attached thereto, may not the time be a proper one to present, as concisely as possible, a history of the corps of marines, the laws under which it was established and organized, the duties assigned to it, the regulations made for its government, in connection with the navy in 1801, the orders containing those regulations, and a general view of all that has materially affected its interests as a distinct and peculiar arm of the military service, and the application of the act of 30th June, 1834; when, it is humbly believed, there will be found other and more important cause for legislative enactments than what have yet been embraced or contained in a pay bill recently reported in the Senate of the United States.
Although well known, it may be repeated, that, by a law passed in 1198, this corps was first created, in addition to the military establishment of the United States, to consist of one major, four captains, &c., and, like the British marines of that day, required to take the same oath, and to be subject to the same rules and articles of war as are prescribed for the military establishment of the United States, and the rules and regulations for the government of the navy, &c., according to the nature of the service in which they should be employed.
And, to complete its military organization, an adjutant, paymaster, and quartermaster, &c., were provided for on shore, and the major, or commandant of the corps, authorized by the law to appoint them from the line of subalterns, &c., with the same extra pay as allowed by law to officers acting in the same capacity in the infantry.
The authority thus vested solely in the commandant of the corps is believed to remain unrepealed and unimpaired by any other law, down to the present time.
The marine corps was thus, in 1798, made a distinct military establishment, and detachments or guards were, by law, required to be made from it, in lieu of the respective quotas of marines which had been established or authorized for the frigates, &c., in the service of the United States.
The corps was also made liable, by that law, to do duty in the forts or garrisons of the United States, or any other duty on shore, and to be formed into as many companies or detachments as the President, at his discretion, should direct.
Again: On the 22d of April, 1800, another law passed, creating the office of lieutenant colonel commandant, "to command the corps of marines," and abolishing the office of major in the corps.
The records of the Navy Department will show that, about the 19th of August, 1801, circumstances existed which caused the following orders to be issued, in form of a circular, viz:
"Marines, before they are attached to a ship, are under the command of the lieutenant colonel commandant of the marine corps; but after they are so attached, the command of the lieutenant colonel commandant over them ceases, and from that moment the marines, officers as well as privates, are under the command of the captain, or commanding officer of such ship,"
That not being sufficiently full to meet the cases that might arise in fixing a marine guard at the Navy yard in this city, (Washington,) the following rules were prescribed:
"This guard will be considered as a detachment from the barracks on special duty, and, under the immediate commanding officer, will be on the same establishment as to rations, fuel, &c., as the troops at barracks, and will be subject to the orders of the lieutenant colonel commandant, as to relieving the guard, or any part thereof.
"The captain commandant of the yard will point out to the officer commanding the guard the property to be protected, who will, consequently, furnish the number of sentinels competent to give that protection, in default of which, the commandant will communicate the neglect or omission to the lieutenant colonel commandant, who is required immediately to investigate the cause of complaint.
"The commanding officer of the guard can issue no order operating against or interfering with the established rules and regulations of the yard, but he is to conform, with his guard, to every order issued, or to be issued, for the better government of the yard.
"You cannot, under these regulations, order upon other duty the guard stationed at the navy yard for the protection of the public property therein deposited; but, as the commanding officer of naval forces at New York, you can make requisitions upon the officer commanding this guard for such detachments of marines as may be required for service on board the vessels under your command, and such officer is bound to comply with your requisitions, as far as may be in his power. Particular instructions, corresponding with this regulation, will be forwarded by the lieutenant colonel commandant to the officer commanding the marine guard at New York; and if commissioned officers should, in your opinion, be necessary for each detachment so required, you will make application for them to this Department.
The foregoing was enclosed to Captain Isaac Chauncey, or the commanding officer at New York, under date, Navy Department, March 14, 1808, in answer to two letters from him, dated 21st of January and 11th of February previous. And, again: the following letter, enclosing all the foregoing orders and regulations, was addressed to Captain Isaac Hull, commanding United States Navy yard, Charlestown, Massachusetts, under date February 22, 1816:
"Sir: I have received your letter of the 13th instant, upon the subject of the marines stationed at the Navy yard, Charlestown, under your command.
"It appears that this subject has long been agitated, and, from time to time, regulated by special
orders from the Navy Department, but still remains unsettled as to the extent of command upon shore duty over marines, who, by law, are subject only to the orders of the commandant of that corps, when not attached to the United States ships-of-war.
"Subjects of this nature, arising out of any defect or inadequate definition in the acts of Congress, have been usually submitted to the Attorney General of the United States.
"This course will be taken so soon as his attendance upon the Supreme Court will permit his attention to be called to it.
"In the meantime you will consider the enclosed order, (the above regulations of 1801, and March, 1808,) copied from the records of the Department, as binding, and which has been considered in force since the time it was issued.
"B. W. CROWNINSHIELD."
It is presumed, if the opinion of the Attorney General was had in the above case, that it affirmed the previous instructions of the Department, for it was about three months before Captain Hull made known the above order on the subject.
It may now be resumed that, after the act of Congress in 1800 creating the office of lieutenant colonel commandant to "command the corps" when serving in the United States, two other acts passed for augmenting the corps, and other purposes; one in 1809, the other in April, 1814. Both those acts have reference to the same rules and regulations for the government of the corps in 1198.
The 2d section of the act of 1814 provides that the adjutant and inspector, paymaster and quartermaster, may be taken either from the line of captains or subalterns, and that they should, respectively, receive 830 per month, in addition to their pay in the line, in full of all emoluments.
The 3d section authorizes the conferring of brevet rank in the marine corps, providing also that, when commanding separate stations or detachments, they should be entitled to and receive the same pay and emoluments which officers of the same grade are allowed by law.
In March, 1811, another law was passed to fix the peace establishment of the marine corps. That, however, went only to the diminution of its numbers, and in no way changed any of the previous enactments, regulations, or orders relative to the authority vested in the commandant, or its government in connection with naval service.
But, in a system or code of regulations drawn up at the Navy Department for the government of the navy, the 14th section declared that the guard of marines detached for the protection of the yard should, while doing duty in the yard, be subject to the orders of the commandant of the yard, and that all persons enlisted in the marine corps should, on such service, be subject to the same rules and punishment (by the cat-o'-nine-tails) as prescribed by the regulation of the navy at sea.
That section was declared to be illegal, however, by the Attorney General of the United States, and repugnant to the law which made the corps a part of the military establishment of the United States, to be governed by its own commandant when serving on shore, and that section was rendered inoperative upon the marine corps until December, 1835, when it was ordered to be enforced by the President of the United States, in accordance with the act of Congress for the better organization of the marine corps, passed on the 30th June, 1834, and the orders and instructions followed which are brought to notice by the present memorial.
In 1819, on the promotion of Lieutenant Colonel Gale as commandant of the corps, a question was made as to the appointment of the staff, whether by himself or not; and a decision of the Navy Department was then had sustaining his authority to appoint under the law.
Down to that time, therefore, the several laws and regulations of the Navy Department appear to have been duly regarded; the power and authority of the commandant of the corps to appoint and remove the staff fully sustained—construing the law of '98, and those subsequent, to make the lieutenant colonel commandant, the staff, and all detachments serving on shore, subject to the rules and articles of war, under the immediate military command, detail, and direction of the commandant; and all guards or detachments serving on board ships to be subject to the rules and regulations of the navy, and under the orders of the captain of the ship, excepting that they were exempt from being required to go aloft.
The distinct character and military organization of the marine corps was then well understood, and appears to have required no alteration or improvement, as may be seen in a report from the Navy Commissioners of January 11, 1821, to the Secretary of the Navy, in which they say, as to any new organization of the marine corps which would promote economy without injuring its efficiency, they do not feel competent to form a satisfactory opinion, as it appears to them properly a military question, and they have never turned their attention to subjects of that nature.
The Secretary of the Navy (Judge Thompson) also says, in a report to Congress dated 2d December, 1822, "that a peace establishment having been fixed by the act of Congress of 3d March, 1811, (near six years previous, so that the law had been well tested,) and no material alteration being deemed necessary, no other plan was proposed to be adopted on that point."
The pay and allowances to the officers, and extra compensation to the staff, were made agreeably to the laws for the marine corps on the subject, with the exception of one additional ration allowed to the second lieutenants of marines, to put them on an equality as to rations with the lieutenants of the army, from 1816.
In 1825,-6,-7, courts of inquiry and courts-martial were required to be held on some of the senior officers of the corps, including the lieutenant colonel commandant, between whom and one of his staff, the then paymaster of the corps, differences existed, in relation to official duties, calling for the exercise of the President's authority to order a court of inquiry, and causing also the office of the said paymaster to be removed from the head-quarters of the marine corps, where it had been fixed for thirty years, under the controlling direction and superintendence of the commandant of the corps, to an attic room in the Navy Department.
The controlling power of the commandant over the officers of his military staff being thus interrupted, the established laws and regulations for the corps were relaxed in their application, and a strong foundation was made for all that has followed, derogating from the best standing and military organization the corps could possess.
The utility of the corps was a common subject of attack, as connected in its relations to the navy. Every odium was attempted to be excited against the office of the commandant and the brevet field rank which had been conferred on some of the senior officers for meritorious services during the war, by
anonymous publications in newspapers and gazettes, written, as understood, in the office of the Commissioners of the Navy.
In the beginning of 1828, the official duties and legal authority of the lieutenant colonel commandant were brought in conflict with the views and purposes of the Navy Department, under the following circumstances:
About the month of January, the commandant of the corps deemed it proper to require of the paymaster, an officer and office whose duties he was bound to direct and superintend, a statement of balances, that had been transferred to him with the books of his predecessor in the office, against the officers of the corps, in November, 1821, amounting to about $50,000, and to know how they had been liquidated, and how settled and accounted for by him.
His answer not being satisfactory, as to the faithful discharge of his duty to the United States on that subject, further explanations were required; finally leading to an order from the commandant to close his accounts as paymaster, and that in due time he would be removed from that office and assigned to other duties in the corps.
A copy of the correspondence and statement of the facts were furnished to the Secretary of the Navy, and the following correspondence had on the subject:
Navy Department, January 28, 1828.
I have received your letter of the 19th inst., enclosing a correspondence between yourself and paymaster. I have also received from Captain ----- (the P. M.) a copy of the same correspondence. Before any
decision in the case is made by the Department, it becomes necessary to understand the source from which the power to remove this officer, and compel him to account to you, is derived.
1 have therefore to request that you inform me on what grounds you suppose the authority is vested in you, and that you do not exercise it until the will of the President on the subject be communicated from this Department.
SAMUEL L. SOUTHARD.
To Col. Henderson, Commandant, &c.
Head-Quarters of the Marine Corps, Washington, February 1, 1828.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, dated the 28th ultimo, requesting
me to inform you on what grounds I supposed authority is invested in me to remove Captain* ----- from
the duty of paymaster, and to compel him to render an account to me of certain transactions under that appointment.
In answer, I have the honor to inform you that, as Captain ----- derived his appointment to perform
the duty of paymaster from me, I conceive that he not only held his office under me at the period of his appointment, but necessarily is in continuation of this office, from day to day, under that appointment.
The authority to appoint, virtually possesses the power to revoke, unless restrained by the law which gives the power of appointment.
This general principle, incident to all appointments, is peculiarly applicable to the appointment of the staff officers in the marine corps. Captain ----- is an officer commissioned by government, and my authority cannot affect that commission; but the duty to be assigned to him under that commission appertains to my office as commandant. He holds no commission as paymaster, similar to army appointments, but acts in performance of a particular duty, to which any officer in the marine corps may, by law, be assigned by me; and such duty can only be performed by some one of those officers.
The appointment of the duties of paymaster may be considered the same as an appointment to any other duty or service under my command, and liable to the variations which attend other departments of service.
The original law, or act of Congress, for establishing and organizing a marine corps, dated 11th July, 1798, authorizes the major or commandant of the corps to appoint the staff officers, and that power, granted by said act, has never, to my knowledge, been revoked or repealed; the various subsequent acts are evidently only additional, operating either to augment or diminish the numbers of the corps, and in nowise to detract from the powers vested in the commandant under the law above named.
The act of Congress of the 16th of April, 1814, which declares the adjutant and inspector, paymaster, and quartermaster, may be taken either from the line of captains or lieutenants, does not vary the power of appointment granted to the commandant by the first law; on the contrary, the subject-matter being then under legislative consideration, when the mode of appointment was known and practiced, as at present, and there being no alteration then made as respects the appointment, said act must be considered as an affirmance of the power under the first law.
The compensation to said staff appointments was then altered and increased to $30 per month each, in addition to their pay in the line; but the manner and authority for making the appointments was left undisturbed.
The Constitution of the United States authorizes Congress, by law, to vest the appointments of such inferior officers as they think proper, in the heads of departments, a reference to which, it is presumed, was had in vesting in the commandant of the marine corps the appointment of the staff of the corps.
The last act which fixes the peace establishment of the marine corps, dated 3d March, 1817, declares that it shall consist of certain officers, and that one adjutant and inspector, one paymaster, and one quartermaster, be taken from those officers, but is silent as to who shall appoint them; of course it is to be understood that they are to be taken as provided by the first act on that subject.
As the staff officers must be taken from the captains and lieutenants, who can so well judge of the fitness of those appointments as the commandant? He knows the other duties of service required to be performed by these captains and lieutenants, and from which they ought to be relieved, and the military routine to be observed in the corps. Thus it may apprehended that the competency of the commandant to make those appointments, and to determine the duration of them, caused the power of appointment to be first vested in him, and to remain unaltered by the last act. If such power was intended to be revoked by said act, the same would have been done in clear and explicit terms, and not left to any strained implication.
* The name of the paymaster is omitted.
The power, by the 3d section of the said act, in the President, to appoint officers, authorized by said act, it is apprehended, is limited to such officers as hold commissions, and are enumerated in said act, which, in its own nature, refers to, and is founded on, the previous acts for establishing the marine corps. No new commissions were issued under said act, but the corps remained in operation under the pre-existing provisions. This circumstance shows the sense which, at the time, was entertained of said law, and of its being in the character of an additional act, containing no new provisions, except for the diminution of numbers. The same subject was formerly under the deliberation of your predecessor.
It appears that, in December, 1806, Colonel Wharton (then commandant) removed an officer from the paymaster's office, without any alleged misconduct or abuse on the part of that officer, who appealed to the honorable Mr. Smith, Secretary of the Navy, when Colonel Wharton repeated, in his letter to the Secretary, that he had no specific allegation to make, but that, as it was a power vested in himself to appoint and remove his staff, he could not continue in his staff an officer who was personally unfriendly. The revocation of that appointment was sustained by the Department, and Colonel Wharton appointed a Lieutenant Greenleaf to succeed to the office of paymaster, on the 1st July, 1807.
Mr. Crowninshield and Judge Thompson also decided that the power of appointment was vested in the commandant, and under the order of Judge Thompson, of date -----, 1819, on file in my office, Colonel Gale appointed his staff, including the former paymaster, Lieutenant Desha.
It may be observed that, if the last-mentioned law, in 1817, varied the appointment of the paymaster, the President, who had the law immediately before him, would assuredly have made the appointments of staff officers, including the paymaster, according to the provisions of that law.
It is also very certain that, if such appointment belongs to the President, and not to the commandant, then Lieutenant Howie, the adjutant and inspector, Captain Kuhn, the paymaster, or Lieutenant Weed, the quartermaster, are neither of them properly the staff officers, and it would be my duty, in such case, to revoke their appointments, erroneously made by me.
As respects my authority to call Captain ------ to account concerning the particular subject referred
to in my communication to him, I must observe that, until lately, it was deemed requisite to submit to me as commandant of the corps, for my approbation, all requisitions from the paymaster on the Treasury of the United States, which would seem to imply that, having assented to the receipt of the money, I might well have a right to inquire whether public money, obtained under my sanction, had been lawfully appropriated; but the duty especially devolved on me to ascertain whether the balance of $48,000, charged by the former paymaster, (Lieutenant Desha,) against the officers of the corps, and committed for collection to Captain ----- in November, 1821, as his successor in that office, had been duly stopped and accounted for. On making this inquiry of Captain -----, he rendered to me a statement and account, from which it appeared that an item of near $10,000 remained charged against one officer, when, by the same account, I observed that two sums, amounting to more than $1,000, had been paid by him to the said officer, in June, 1823, for omitted credits in his favor, in 1819, with the former paymaster, (Lieutenant Desha,) which sums ought not certainly to have been paid, but deducted from the debit against the officer. Lieutenant Desha was credited at the Department for those two accounts, and had paid far beyond the amount in his advances to this officer," which was well known to Captain ------.
It was also understood by me, I believe, admitted, that a very large sum had been allowed this officer for claims settled with him under the law for equitable settlements without vouchers, which, in itself, limits such allowance to a credit only against outstanding balances; and further, without such limitation, it was the duty of Captain ------ to stop from him, as he did from other officers, for the above debits against them.
The amount received from Captain ----- purports the credit to Lieutenant Desha, when, in fact, the above amount of balance against the officers did not belong to Lieutenant Desha, or his estate, but to Captain -----, as his successor in office, or to the Treasury of the United States, where the accounts of deceased officers are required to be settled; and the United States might, if necessary, have commenced suits against those officers, for payment or adjustment of those balances. By a subsequent communication from Captain -----, he informed me that the letters of credit to Lieutenant Desha, mentioned in his account, were actually accounted for by him to the United States. I required from Captain ----- the particular times, or dates, when the balances were stopped, so as to ascertain whether the same were accounted for in due time. Captain ------, in the above account, states that a suspension of the debit against this officer was made by authority of the Fourth Auditor, in September, 1825. It is evident that, from 1821 to 1825 the ordinary pay, &c., of that officer would go far to diminish his balance, exclusive of the equitable claims allowed him; and, I think it hardly possible for any auditing officer of the United States Treasury so far to have contravened the law as to prevent stoppage for an uncontroverted debit. The above suspense, mentioned in the said account of Captain ----- to be by order of the Fourth Auditor, in September, 1825, is supposed to be still in operation, so as to enable the officer to receive his pay from that period to this; more especially (such order of suspense appears very singular) as it must have been known at the Treasury that the claims of said officer, under the act for equitable settlement, had been fully adjusted, and even paid to him, and when it was the duty of the paymaster, who had knowledge of the subject from his official intervention, to remonstrate against it.
Conceiving it my duty to call on the paymaster for such order or authority from the Auditor, he declined to afford me such evidence, but referred me to the Fourth Auditor for it, when it was his duty to have procured and possessed, from the Fourth Auditor, a written order on the subject.
It may be remarked, that the power and duty of the paymaster to make stoppages do not depend on any act of Congress, but, as successor in office, was bound to take the same notice of advances made by his predecessor as if made by himself.
I have thus fully explained to you my views and reasons for the authority exercised by me in relation to Captain ------, which, I trust, will meet your approbation; and, as your were pleased to intimate that the subject would be submitted to the consideration of the President, I hope this may accompany the communication.
ARCH'D HENDERSON, Lieutenant Colonel Commandant,
The Hon. Sam'l L. Southard, Secretary of the Navy.
The just ends of the commandant, and his clear powers and duties, thus set forth, were first submitted by him to legal examination, of the highest respectability; and, after waiting two months for an
answer from the Department on the subject, it was again brought to notice, on the 4th of April, in the following extract from a communication from the commandant, of that date:
"I would, therefore, respectfully call your attention to my communication of the 1st February, in answer to your inquiries of 28th January preceding, as to the grounds of my authority for appointing and removing, &c., the staff officers of the marine corps; and, in compliance with your request, have waited to know the President's decision on such contested authority.
"A thorough and advised conviction that the authority to appoint and remove is, by law as well as precedent and long established usage, vested in my office only, as commandant of the corps, I must request, as early as convenient, to know the President's decision on the subject. It cannot comport with the public interest, or the respect due to my authority as commandant of the corps, to pass unnoticed the very presuming, insubordinate, and objectionable conduct of Captain ----- towards me, as made known to you in my former communications, and to continue in the staff one so personally hostile as he is."
Under date the 9th April the following answer was returned from the Navy Department:
"Sir: In answer to your letter of the 4th April, I have to inform you that the President of the United States has considered the question relating to the paymaster, quartermasters, and adjutant and inspector of the marine corps, and decided that it is his duty, at a proper time, to make nominations of persons to the Senate to fill those offices. This determination will place those officers on the same grounds, as to appointment, with those of the same grades in the army.
"SAM'L L. SOUTHARD."
Thus, therefore, was the authority vested in the commandant of the corps to appoint and remove his staff, under the act of Congress creating and establishing the corps as a distinct military body, in 1798, and the invariable exercise of it for thirty years, disregarded; and the officers then in those offices, the adjutant and inspector, quartermaster, and the paymaster, were nominated by the President to the Senate, about the 28th May, 1828, three or four days only before Congress adjourned; accompanied, it is understood, by a suggestion of there being some doubts on the legality of the appointments, whether by the commandant of the corps or not, with an opinion of the Attorney General, leading to the conclusion that he did not possess it; and they were confirmed by the Senate, and commissioned accordingly.
It was then, and is now, firmly believed that the Senate would not have sanctioned the nominations had they examined particularly the law on the subject, and known the causes and grounds on which they were made.
Contrary to the general law and usage of the British, and our own military service, which expressly provides that staff officers, holding rank in the line, shall be subject to perform temporary duty in the line, or on courts-martial, at the discretion of the commanding officer; and against the first principle of military discipline, (subordination,) one of those officers (the paymaster) was sustained by the Navy Department in appealing from an order, thereby denying the authority of the commandant of the corps to detail him as a member of a general court-martial, soon after ordered, for the trial of an officer in this city.
The effect, by construction, was not only to diminish their duties, (not subject to any in the line) and to destroy the military authority and respect due to the commandant of the corps, but to advance the pay and emoluments of those officers to more than double what was authorized by law in 1814, when the corps was three times as large, and without any higher or additional staff officers.
One of them, a lieutenant only, who entered the service in 1817, and never performed any duty at sea, appeared on the estimates to Congress the following session, 1828-9, as a quartermaster of the marine corps, at $60 per month, allowances and emoluments, amounting, in all his receipts, it was said, to more than $3,000 per annum, which was thus allowed, notwithstanding the compensation fixed by law would not exceed half that sum.
To continue the course and views of the Navy Department as clear and concise as possible, with regard to the marine corps, extracts are carefully made from the annual reports of the Secretary of the Navy since 1822, and the one dated December 4th, 1827, will show how far the courts of inquiry, before referred to, were probably the principal, if not the only cause or grounds of the recommendation to make the corps subject at all times to the naval regulations and officers.
In the report of the Secretary of the Navy to Congress in 1823, no allusion was made to the corps; in 1824, reference was only made to the estimates of the marine corps, and the explanatory statements added; from which time, and on which grounds, it is believed the established and legal pay of the officers of the staff, by the law of 1814, was departed from, for the first time, by introduction of desired allowances into the estimates for appropriations of Congress.
In the report of 1825, no mention is made of the corps; and in that of 1826, a general reference is had to former reports, showing the evils under which the marine corps and naval service labored, which could only bo relieved by legislative interference, and, to the views and opinions before expressed, adding "that the marine corps and the service still continued to feel, sensibly, the necessity of a remedy for some of the inconveniences then suggested."
No special consideration appears, however, in the reports, suggestions, &c., alluded to, respecting the marine corps. But in the report of December 4th, 1827, it is noticed as follows:
"The condition of the marine corps urgently demands that it should be again presented for consideration. It was 'established and organized' in 1798, and consisted of 720 men, besides officers. The design of Congress, in creating it, was to furnish a proper guard for the navy yards, and for ships at sea. This design points out the extent and organization it should possess. It should be numerous enough to afford a sufficient guard for each yard, and each ship in commission. It ought to be, also, so far incorporated into the navy as to render the government of the two consistent and uniform. In both these respects it needs amendment."
"The statement 'G,' annexed, (omitted here) shows the proper number for a guard at each yard and each ship in commission, in the opinion of the commandant of the corps, amounting; in all, to ----- effective men. The corps now consists of 750 men, besides commissioned and non-commissioned officers, being thirty more than when it was first established, although the service to be performed is much more extensive. It is apparent that this number of men cannot furnish the required guards; our vessels are,
therefore, often without the requisite number, and a very insufficient protection is afforded to the public property. "Watchmen have, during the past year, been hired at several of the navy yards, to aid the marines, which unavoidably creates confusion and insecurity." (Why were they hired, then? Solely to supplant and break down the organized establishment of the marine corps.) "It would be better to have guards composed altogether of one description of persons, either marines or watchmen. The nature of the duties performed by the corps, both on land and on water, is such, that great danger results from their being insufficiently discharged. The public interest would, therefore, be promoted by augmentation in its numbers, or by withdrawing it altogether, either from the navy yards or from the ships, and trusting to other means for protection, which would be regarded as a hazardous experiment."
"There is still greater defect in the organization (government is probably meant) than in the numbers of the corps. By the law of 1798 it is governed by the same rules and articles of war as are prescribed for the military establishment of the United States, and by the rules and regulations of the navy, according to the nature of the service on which they shall be employed."
"By the construction uniformly given to this law, the corps is subject to the navy regulations at sea, and the army regulations when on land. The same officers and men are at one moment under one system of rules and discipline, at the next another." "Their compensation is governed by one law at sea, by another on land. The nature of their connection with the navy is unsettled and subject to constant disputation; when the laws are to be enforced, in the punishment of an officer, neither the War nor the Navy Department can, in many cases, act without the interference of the other." "It is not necessary to detail the consequences which follow."
"It is, perhaps, matter of surprise that confusion, disorder, and violation of duty, have not existed to an extent which might jeopardize the existence of the corps, (not from the inadequacy of the laws and regulations on the subject, but the unfortunate inattention to, and misapplication of them). The following amendments are respectfully suggested as the proper remedy:
"1. That the corps be increased in the number of privates, and that the number and grade of the officers correspond with those which have been established in the army.
"2. That it be placed entirely under the laws and regulations for the government of the navy.
"3. That accommodations be afforded them out of, but adjoining the navy yards, so that details can be sent under proper arrangements by the officer commanding them into the yard, and while there, be entirely subject to the control and order of the commandant.
"4. That a sufficient guard, for the sole purpose of guarding the property at Portsmouth, Philadelphia, Washington, and Pensacola, be assigned to those places, and the remainder be divided between the stations at Boston, New York, and Norfolk, where they can be properly drilled and prepared for sea service, and from which our vessels can obtain the necessary guards when fitting for sea.
"5. That the commandant and staff of the corps remain at this place, as the most convenient for communication both with the Department and with the corps, and for the prompt settlement of their accounts.
"If these suggestions should be adopted, it is believed that the marine corps would be much more efficient and less expensive to the public. The two first of these provisions would require legal enactments—the others might be effected by regulations."
In the next annual report to Congress, no reference was made to the marine corps.
On the changes being made in the head of the Navy Department and the Fourth Auditor's office, in 1829, erroneous impressions were created, and hastily taken in regard to the marine corps, particularly as to the pay and allowances of the officers, without understanding and discriminating between what were in conformity to the laws on the subject, and what were against law and without good authority to sustain them. Great injustice was done at the time by withholding from the officers that which was legally due; and a joint resolution was finally passed by Congress, restoring to them, respectively and without discrimination, all that had thus been withheld; and the provisions in the appropriation bill of 1831 reaffirmed them, until changed by law, as will be seen stated hereafter in the annual report of the Navy Department, December 3, 1831.
The following extract is made from the President's message in 1829: "I would recommend that the marine corps be merged in the artillery or infantry, as the best mode of curing the many defects in its organization. But little exceeding in numbers any of the regiments of infantry, that corps has, besides its lieutenant-colonel commandant, five lieutenant colonels by brevet, who receive the full pay and emoluments of their brevet rank, without rendering proportionate service. Details for the marine service could as well be made from the artillery or infantry, there being no peculiar training requisite for it."
The profound respect due to the high authority last quoted, precludes other answer than to ask if the act of Congress establishing the corps in 1198 did not fully confide to the President of the United States authority to organize the corps in such manner, and to order it to do duty in the forts or garrisons of the United States, or any other duty on shore, as the President at his discretion should direct. The only imperative requirement in that act is in the 3d section, which says, "the detachments of the corps of marines, hereby authorized, shall be made in lieu of the respective quotas of marines which have been established or authorized for the frigates," &c.
Is it not probable, also, that the public interest, the convenience and good of the service, were known and consulted in the distinct and peculiar organization of the marine corps in 1798, and that the laws for its government, brevet rank, and pay, were made and adopted accordingly?
In the winter of 1830, a call was made by the Senate of the United States on the Secretary of the Navy, to obtain the opinions of the post captains of the navy, then in Washington, on the subject of dispensing with the marine corps and military guards, as a component part of naval equipment; also, as to its government, organization, and substituting seamen, &c., to do their duties at sea, &c.
The opinions of several posts captains were thus obtained, and those of junior officers in the navy were also added, as volunteers in favor of dispensing with marines altogether.
But their views and opinions all passed, like other futile ephemera, except one or two, marked by their intelligence and enlightened testimony to the extent of its services, as will be seen in the only one at hand, and here copied.
"Opinion of Commodore Charles Stewart, in relation to the marine corps of the United States.
"Washington, March 8, 1830.
"Sir: I had the honor to receive your letter of the 3d instant, covering a resolution of the Senate of the United States, relative to the marine corps, requiring information on the following points:
"First. 'Whether it is necessary that marines should compose part of the military force of a ship-of-war?'
"To this I answer, that I do consider them proper and necessary to constitute a part of the crew of a ship-of-war.
"Second. 'Whether marines may not usefully be dispensed with, and a portion of the seamen be instructed in the use of small arms, and perform all the duties which may be required of marines in battle or on ordinary service?'
"To this I answer that, for the mere purposes of battle, perhaps the seamen might be instructed, in a limited degree, in the use of small arms.
"Third. Whether seamen are not now instructed and practiced in the use of small arms?'
"To this I answer, that a portion of the crew (other than the marines) are now, and always have been, instructed and practiced in the use of small arms; but that instruction and practice are very limited, as they necessarily must be.
"Fourth. Whether the petty officers and seamen who have been in service, but from age, or slight disabilities, are rendered unfit for the actual duties of their calling on ship-board, can be usefully and safely employed as guards at the navy stations, in lieu of marines?'
"To this I answer, I think not; but as I have never had any command or control over a navy yard or station, I cannot speak to this question from actual experience.
"The foregoing answers would seem to comprise all the honorable the Senate of the United States require on that subject; and it would not have been proper to go further, were it not for that part of their third question requiring also any general information in elucidation of the subject of the resolution, 'whether marines can, or cannot, be beneficially dispensed with on board our public ships-of-war?' Under this clause I would beg leave to remark, that the marines are the only portion of the crew of a ship-of-war that is wholly military, and the only part that could be rendered such by the nature of the service, as well as the nature of those comprising the other classes. If, then, it is at all desirable or useful to have a portion of the force of a ship-of-war wholly and completely military, that portion must be composed of a regularly organized infantry, for this reason, that sea officers, from their employments and occupations in ships-of-war, differ materially from military officers, because the ideas and general habits of sailors unfit them, in a great measure, for infantry soldiers; and because the limited space in a ship-of-war would not admit of their training; and their general duty and employment would be too much deranged and interfered with. In order to ascertain the necessity and utility of having a portion of the crew of a ship-of-war organized as infantry, it will be necessary to inquire into the objects and duties of such a corps.
"The first object is to instill into them those sound military principles—obedience, subordination, and respect—that they may be entitled to confidence in discharge of their duties as sentinels to watch over your magazines, spirit-room, storerooms, gangways, galleys, and look-outs; to preserve order and prevent interruption to cooking duties, and to guard your prisoners of war, who sometimes outnumber the crew. In port, they constitute the deck-guard, and at sea they are (or at least a large portion of them) always near their arms. Thus they prevent surprise from without, and check mutiny within. In the ordinary duties at sea, the marine watch perform the same duties on deck which would be required of any other body of men, except going aloft; consequently, their usefulness and force, as men, are not lost; for there must be some men kept on deck, in reefing and furling, to haul the rigging and manage the cordage for those who are aloft. In battle, when the ship is engaged on both sides, or when otherwise necessary, they can be distributed among the carriage-guns for working the artillery. Should any operations wholly military be required of them on shore, they would be more efficient and competent to its performance. Should the combined efforts of seamen and marines be required for the surprise of posts, or the escalade of a fortress, the marines, as a supporting column of regular infantry, would form a disciplined body, whereon to rest the security of the other classes who are appointed to make the grand effort, and would yield them a steady column and military support in case of failure, when they would constitute the reserve, and cover the retreat and embarkation of the seamen.
"The latter are a class of men whose onset and first efforts are tremendous and formidable, but, if resisted and discomfited, they break into a hundred groups, which cannot be rallied, and they become a mere mob, who, without a body of regulars to sustain them, must fall a sacrifice. Seamen have a particular aversion to the infantry drill, and, generally speaking, can be brought to little more in that art than to load and fire. That strict subordination and obedience to orders, and the pride of feeling, intuitive in a regular soldier, cannot be attained by a seaman. Hence, the entire confidence of the officers, for the performance of the ordinary duties on posts, cannot be yielded them, Frequent punishments would ensue for neglect and irregularity, and disgust to the service would follow. But, sir, there is another evil in attempting to make marines of sailors—the scarcity of seamen; and ordinary seamen would embarrass more and more the manning of our ships-of-war, if those who act as marines are substituted from the other classes. To take them from landsmen, no advantage would be gained, as regards the increased nautical efficiency of our ships, but much would be lost with respect to the military portion; we should have the men, without the seaman's or soldier's profession. In the above observations, I have referred to the possibility of mutiny in our national ships-of-war. That mutiny has occurred in our navy, there is no doubt. One instance took place on board the Constitution, in the Bay of Leghorn, in the year 1807. By the formidable appearance of a column of marine bayonets, supported by nearly a hundred gallant officers armed, it was not only suppressed, but twenty of the ringleaders were secured, and sent home in the ship, ironed, for punishment; but the government deemed it most advisable not to punish them, as they were right, and the commander was wrong. It appeared that the period for which the men had engaged had expired. This practice, of keeping the ships-of-war absent beyond the period for which their crews are engaged, is becoming a fruitful source of mutiny. Commanders, anxious to execute all the orders of the government in sending them abroad, lose sight of their obligations to obey the law, thereby rendering themselves liable to encounter death at sea, in the shape of mutiny, and civil prosecution on shore, for
detaining their men beyond the period for which they are engaged. Their paramount duty is to return to the United States and discharge their crews, after they have faithfully performed their part of the contract; that the government should as faithfully perform theirs, by returning them to their country and homes, and not suffer them to be discharged penniless in distant seas, to encounter starvation, or to beg, or become pirates.
"Very many persons are under the impression that most of the mutinies in the British navy originate in their practice of impressment; but I believe there is scarcely an instance of the kind on record. Their mutinies originate in oppression, and not in impressment. I also believe there is no case where the marines, as a body, participated in the mutinies of the seamen. If we refer to the very serious mutiny of the channel fleet, at the Nore, in 1797, I think we will find (I speak from impressions on the memory only) that nothing was stated by the mutineers as a grievance for redress, on the part of the impressed men, except that sentence of death for desertion, committed by an impressed man, was urged on the King as too severe a punishment, and those who volunteered for the service, and took the bounty, insisted on being discharged every seven years. About the same period, a bloody mutiny took place on board the British frigate, the Hermione, on the West India station. This mutiny originated in the oppression and tyranny of the commander on that occasion. All the officers (except a master's mate) encountered death. Captain Pigot, the commander of that ship, was of such a tyrannical and intemperate disposition as to wholly disqualify him for the command of men. If mutinies have not more frequently occurred in our ships-of-war, it has been owing to the mildness of our commanders, the good feelings of the seamen towards their officers, and the support afforded the latter by a steady column of bayonets. There are some who will say that marines are useless except for idle parade. But even form and parade, in a military system; are perhaps more essential, in aid of the preservation of discipline amongst republican citizens, than with the subjects of a king.
"The, whole business of life may be considered a little more than bent, so far as the desire of distinction goes, towards appearances. Men are at best but grown-up children, 'pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw.' Take from military service its distinguishing trappings, the possible 'pomp and circumstance of war,' the probable vote of thanks of the national legislature, and what will then be left them to aid their patriotism in calling forth the whole energies of the man, to support them in the perils of the battle and the ocean, the deprivations of their home and its comforts?
"If we refer to the past services of the marine corps, they will be found to be among the most distinguished. Whether you take them at the charge of the bayonet, in unison with the seamen wielding the sabre and the pike, boarding the gunboats off Tripoli, in their various actions on the ocean, or in their efforts with the seamen under Barney in resisting the advance of the British columns to your capital, you will find they have ever sustained a high reputation for discipline, conduct and courage. Under these circumstances, I am decidedly of opinion that the marines cannot be beneficially dispensed with in Our national ships-of-war.
"I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,
"The Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy."
The report of the Secretary of the Navy, in December, 1830, was silent, however, respecting the marine corps; but that made in December, 1831, with its appendage from the Commissioners of the Navy, is so designedly set forth to be adverse to the military establishment and organization of the corps, with regard to expense, rank of the officers, &c., as compared with the rank of colonel and four majors, which officers' Congress have since created by the act of 30th June, 1834, that particular attention is called to it.
The views which it indicates, with regard to the colonel commandant of the marine corps and the staff officers, are now in a way of being carried out under the power given by the second section of the act of 30th June, 1834, which changes the law and regulations established in 1798 for the government and discipline of the naval service; the effect of which will be more duly noticed. The report says: "The discontinuance of the marine corps, or its transfer entirely either to the army or to the navy, has been the subject of former communications from this Department.
"In its present fluctuating condition, without any imputation on the character of its officers, frequent difficulties in relation to pay and allowances, trials, and orders, are necessarily happening; and part of which proceeded to such an extent as to require a special resolution of Congress in 1830, and a particular provision in the appropriation bill of 1831.* But, by placing this establishment, as in former years has been proposed, wholly under navy discipline and laws, most of these difficulties might, in my opinion, be obviated, all the present benefits of it to the service retained, its increase in numbers rendered" unnecessary, its old associations preserved, and much greater economy, harmony, and energy infused into its operations, without derogating at all from the respectability of the corps. Should the system recommended in the document annexed (G, number 12) be fully adopted, the saving is estimated at over forty thousand dollars annually. But, in that event, the officers not needed should in justice be transferred to the army, and the saving to the government would then fall short of that amount.
"In its hospital and staff departments alone, a change of less extent, as to officers, would save to the public more than $10,000 annually, and a portion of the expensive call for new barracks would be rendered unnecessary. The appropriation at the last session for those in Philadelphia was so expressed that the officers of the Treasury did not feel authorized to allow the expenditure."
"[Document G, No. 12.]
"Estimates, &c., as proposed to be charged. Copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy to the Board of Navy Commissioners.
"Navy Department, October 6, 1831.
"I submit, for your inspection, copies of the estimates from the paymasters and quartermasters of the marine corps for the year 1832, and take the opportunity to inquire what amount of expense would be saved annually if the marine corps was incorporated with the navy, and subject always to navy discipline and laws. With your reply, please to return the estimates."
* Pay and allowances unjustly stopped in 1829, as before stated.
Extract as above, October 10, 1831.
"In making the estimates concerning the difference of expense caused by incorporating the marine corps more fully into the navy, you may consider that, in such an event, the hospital establishment for the corps will not be separate; that forage, &c., will become unnecessary, and that three separate commands or stations, on shore, will probably prove sufficient for the accommodation and wants of the service."
"Navy Commissioners' Office, October 25, 1831.
"Sir: The accompanying paper, marked A, (omitted here,) based upon the principles laid down in your letters of the 6th and 10th instant, is respectfully submitted, in the hope that it contains the information which you have been pleased to call for.
"If the marine corps were fully incorporated into the navy, and subjected always to its discipline and laws, without being charged with any functions other than such as have a direct relation to the navy, then the existing laws organizing it as a distinct corps,' liable to do duty either on shore or on board ships, would require such modifications as would adapt it exclusively to such service.
"Its duties on shore would be confined to the navy yards, and would there be performed under the superintending direction of the senior officer in command; of whose command it would form a component part, precisely as do detachments on board ships form part of the crew of such ships, and there act as may be required of them by the commanders of such ships.
"Such an organization would preclude the necessity of investing any individual with the general command of the corps; and the staff essential to it, when viewed strictly as a military body, would become unnecessary, since all its functions would be performed by officers having similar duties to perform at this time in the navy.
"Its clothing might be procured as is the clothing of seamen and ordinary seamen; its rations might be procured and distributed as the rations of other branches of a ship's crew; (they always have been, on board ships;) its arms might be procured as are now the arms of the navy generally;, it would be paid, as are now the seamen and others, by pursers.
"For its drill and preparations for service, the officers of the respective detachments would be as competent as are now the officers of ships to their appropriate commands.
"Such considerations have guided the Commissioners in preparing the information now submitted.
"Hon. Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Navy.
After this, in March, 1832, a compilation was made from the various orders, circulars, regulations, and decisions, found dispersed over the records and files of the Navy Department, and published by the Secretary of the Navy; not including, however, those of 1801, 1808, and 1816, which so distinctly point out and direct the relative duties of commandants of navy yards, and commanding officers of marines on shore, which thus appear to have been overlooked, or intentionally omitted, in that compilation.
To some of the views contained in the report of the Secretary of the Navy, in 1821, it may be observed, that the ends of justice ought hardly to be sacrificed, from the inconvenience that might sometimes occur, when ordering courts of inquiry, &c., on any senior officer of the corps, by having to apply to the War Department for military officers to compose such courts, as wisely provided for by the rules and articles of war.
Ought not officers of the United States marine corps to be lawfully entitled to a fair trial by officers conversant with the detail of their military profession, when accused of offences against military rules and conduct, under the articles of war, rather than to put naval officers on such courts, and in the absence too of any law and regulations in the naval service applicable to military offences? The law of 1834, however, is a barrier to justice on that head.
Few military men can admit the competency of naval courts and officers to try offences charged on them, more than naval officers would be willing for army or marine officers to try professional misconduct charged on them.
It was observed, also, in that report, that there was an inconsistency in the compound character of discipline, &c., making the marines at one moment liable to one system of discipline under military law, and, the next, to another system under naval law.
Such, however, was not the fact, as the law then was, because naval law and discipline governed the marines when attached to a ship in commission, and, of course, continued for periods of one to three or more years. And it was only when unattached to sea service, occupied in military instructions and drill, and furnishing the requisite guards for sentinels in navy yards, that the rules and articles of war could be applied.
The diversity of law and discipline, therefore, on that subject, comported well with the diversity of character which necessarily pertained to their duties.
If it was intended by the law of 1834 to place only the guards specially detailed for a tour of duty within the navy yards, which lasts but for a day, under naval discipline and officers, then that law has created the very compound character of discipline and liability which was thus pointed out for correction.
It may not be generally known, but the fact is now stated, that the marine barracks are either out of the navy yards, or occupying a portion of the public grounds appropriated to their use, on which barracks have been erected, with their appurtenances, between twenty and thirty years, and separated from the other part of the public grounds by lines and enclosures so distinct that no seaman or marine passes those limits, except on duty and with a warrant or non-commissioned officer, without the mutual knowledge and consent of the naval commandant of the yard and of the marine officer commanding* such separate division or detachment of the marine corps.
Attention is particularly invited to the last act of Congress, respecting the marine corps, of 1834, which changes so totally the military character and standing of the corps, by subjecting it to naval regulations and discipline. Can all the biased reports and views on the subject have been known and considered with the caution their tendency should create? as, for instance, that of the Secretary of the Navy, of December, 1831, with the fitting answer of the Commissioners of the Navy annexed to it—so opposite to the creation of the additional field rank in the corps, and which is now degraded in its trusts and
official duties, under the operation of naval laws and regulations that were not required by any recommendation of the Executive, the present head of the Navy Department, or of the colonel commandant of the corps, as is fully shown by the facts of the orders and regulations, dated the 7th and 11th December, 1835, (near eighteen months after the laws authorizing them passed,) containing the first instructions from the Navy Department of the construction to be given to the law in its application to the corps of marines.
Is there to be no confidence or trust reposed in the offices of the colonel commandant, and the other field rank which Congress bestowed on the senior officers of the corps by the above act? Although the law prohibits their commanding a ship or navy yard, yet it surely cannot be expected of them to submit to the control of any sea officers, junior to themselves, on the free soil of their country.
May it now be respectfully marked for inquiry, whether it will not be prejudicial to the public interests, and destructive to its military utility, thus to place the corps, when on shore, under the rules and regulations for the government of the navy, the same as at sea; and. whether it must not have the effect to destroy the true and high military character it is desirable such a corps should possess?
Would it not be better to repeal so much of the act of 1834 as relates to the government and discipline of the corps, and thus leave for the President of the United States, only, to remedy (through whichever department he may direct) any manifest defects in the details of the corps, by regulations adapted to its military character, and to the rules and articles of war, when serving on shore, rather than it should remain entirely under the rules and regulations for the government of the navy; and the privates of the corps liable to the degrading punishment of the cat-o'-nine-tails, under the immediate orders of navy officers, as is now inflicted on them, without any hesitation, by order of some of the commandants at navy yards?
Formerly that punishment was sometimes necessarily inflicted on them at sea, but never when serving on shore.
What advantage can the public expect to derive from this change? There was never one instance adduced of damage or loss to the public property and interest when committed to detachments of marines, under marine officers. And if any neglect or violation should occur, would it be more efficiently corrected under naval than military law and officers?
By necessity, it was required that marines should be under naval regulations and command, when serving at sea; but when on shore, the marine corps ought to be, as it was, distinct as possible from the naval service. Such distinction in discipline and command creates the high military feeling that constitutes the salutary check against mutiny and irregularities incident to sea life, which would be greatly diminished, if not lost, by unity under navy regulations on shore.
It is a general principle in all establishments, that no change should be made without some manifest or unavoidable necessity. The experience of the British service, from which ours was first modeled, as well as our own, for near forty years, under that model, can be adduced to prove the competency of the old law on that subject.
The British marines, when not borne as part of a ship's complement, are never subject to their naval regulations and discipline; but, in our service, it has been urged as a reason why marines on shore should be under naval regulations and officers, the same as at sea, that the commandants of the yards were responsible for the public property within the yards, and that consequently they ought not only to have authority to require of the commanding marine officer to furnish such guards or sentinels, to be placed as they should direct, for its protection, within the limits of their commands, but, also, (as they now have,) the power to interfere with marine officers of rank equal to their own, and with military duties and details which the commandants of yards, it is presumed, know but little about.
It is obvious, however, that their responsibility is only official, and they could not thus be liable for what was lost or damaged, through the inefficiency of guards or sentinels, under their own proper officers, when their vigilance and attention are the means furnished by the government for its protection.
Their duties on board ships, commanding specific guards only, are necessarily limited, and at all times subservient to the commander of the ship, without any incentive or hope of promotion in the naval service, as have the officers of the navy. But when assigned to the more appropriate military duties incident to their establishment contiguous to navy yards, it cannot necessarily be required to make them subject to naval regulations and officers.
Their location at those points is for general purposes of service, furnishing sentinels as required, agreeably to the mode pointed out by the orders of the Navy Department in 1801, 1808, and 1816, to drill and discipline recruits preparatory for sea service, having charge also of their military clothing, equipments, and supplies; all of which should be totally unconnected with the local duties of the commandant of the yard, and under the sole direction of the commandant of the corps, to which office, and through whom only, all the military details and discipline of the corps should be committed, and the general views or directions of the President communicated, through whichever head of department he may select.
Concerning the pay and emoluments of the officers of the corps, it is observed, that in 1833 a law passed to apply the provisions of an act of 3d March, 1827, giving one additional ration to captains and subalterns in the army (making four rations respectively per day,) and ten dollars per month extra pay to an officer in command of a company, for the responsibility of the clothing, arms, &c., to the officers of the marine corps.
In the application of that law to the marine officers, plain as the intention seemed, the construction was to give to the first lieutenants of the corps, who had long before received four rations per day, (one more than a captain, from 1816,) another ration, making five per day; and the captains in the corps, commanding separate divisions or detachments of the marines, sometimes more than equal to the strength of two or three companies in the army, and having all the responsibilities, &c., have not the benefit of the ten dollars per month, therefore, because their commands are not organized and designated as companies; although the term company or detachment is technical and synonymous, in the act of 1798, for the organization, &c. To have this properly applied, seems to have been wholly overlooked in the bill respecting the pay in 1834, and in the one now before the Senate for regulating it in the future.
Has not also another manifest act of injustice been done to the brevet officers of the corps, who, by a law in 1814, were entitled to receive, when in command of a separate station or detachment, the pay and emoluments of such rank, by a construction of the act of 30th June, 1834, to deprive them of that pay? It was only when in command of a separate station that they could receive it, and it then amounted, to a lieutenant colonel by brevet, including full commutation for all allowances and emoluments, to no
more than $2,250 per annum, which is now reduced to the pay of the grade below, amounting to no more than $1,670 per annum.
From the honorable chairman of the committee which reported the bill to the Senate, it is known they had no such intention. But the following extract from a printed sheet, entitled "Explanations to bill No. 90, reported in the Senate on the 6th February, 1834," &c., and distributed for information, gives the present contrary construction on that point, viz: "The four majors provided for in the bill will add nothing to the expense, as the five senior captains of the marine corps are brevet lieutenant colonels, and receive the full pay and emoluments of their brevet rank; therefore, these officers will receive only the pay and emoluments of majors."
These explanations were concluded by addressing the statement to the Naval Committee, and that the author had been in the navy as midshipman and marine officer eighteen years, &c.
He is believed to have been the only one in the corps benefited by the bill, having an office established by it, to which he was appointed, and has obtained one grade of promotion by other provisions in the bill.
With these explanations of facts, may not the officers of the marine corps confidently look to Congress for protection and redress? Much more seems to be required than is provided for by the bill now before the Senate to regulate the pay.
The commandant and field officers of the corps are more solicitous to be restored to the protection and operation of the known laws and regulations for this arm of the military service, than for any or all pecuniary considerations. They cannot ask less, however, than to have restored to them the full pay and allowances as received previous to the act of 30th June, 1834.
The liabilities and frequent changes in location of the officers of the military branches of the public service, unlike those in the civil departments, must plainly show that pay and fixed emoluments and allowances, adapted to service and location, are much more equitable and just than any stated salary.
In this, every intelligent and experienced officer in the service, whether of army or navy, will fully concur.
In the marine corps may be instanced the great difference in cost of fuel, house rent, &c., between Boston or New York, and this city, Norfolk, or Pensacola. The long and severe winters of the former, together with more than double cost of the article of fuel, cause three times as much expense to procure it in the former as in the latter places.
It may be here remarked, however, that the pay of the field rank has not been increased or augmented since it was first established, more than thirty years ago, while the captains, and lieutenants particularly, have had theirs considerably increased.
It may be pardoned the suggestion, therefore, that an increase to all the officers in the line, based on their pay and allowances previous to 1834, and giving to each grade, respectively, an addition of about twenty-five per cent. on their pay proper when serving in the United States, and not attached to sea service, ought to be satisfactory; and will thus, including pay, rations, servants, forage, and fuel, as commuted, amount per year as follows, viz:
To colonel, $ ----- and double rations as commandant of corps
To lieut. colonel, $2,077 if in command of a station
To major, $1,896
To captain, $1,171
To first lieutenant, $916
To second lieutenant, $850
A table could readily be made to show distinctly what every item was in 1834, and what it would be under such a change. This system of pay, &c., should be continued on shore, whether increased or not.
But when detached on sea service, from the day an officer is borne on a ship's books until he is detached therefrom, let all allowances and pay cease, and give them salaries corresponding somewhat to their assimilated rank, and their relative expenses in the naval service.
To the commissioned staff officers $ ----- per annum, in addition to their pay and allowances in the line, in full of all emoluments for any staff duty they may perform.
To one assistant quartermaster, (being already appointed,) $ ----- per annum, as above.
No other assistant quartermaster or staff officers are required in the corps; all those duties can be well performed under the immediate direction of the officers commanding divisions or posts, and they should be held strictly responsible for the faithful discharge of such duties as pertain to their office and commands".
A question may be made as to officers of the staff holding commissions in the line of the corps. With respect to the adjutant, there would seem to be no ground of objection; but if they are all thus held and continued in the line, and the staff appointments require to be regulated, it should be distinctly known in whom the authority is vested to appoint and remove—whether by the commandant or not; and should be limited not to exceed four years' duration, to prevent any undue influence, and to cause them to share equally on detachments for sea service, or other less desirable duties in the corps.
It is suggested, also, whether the military efficiency of the service would not be better promoted by continuing to employ selected and faithful non-commissioned officers and privates as clerks to the commandant and officers of the staff, who would, on emergency, add to the effective strength of the corps, than to make them civil appointments, and thus exempt from a knowledge or performance of any military duty.
These remarks on facts, and the suggestions presented, are respectfully offered as the result of some experience in the service, during the war of 1812, at sea, under the command of Commodores Bainbridge and Stewart, and since then, with some of the most experienced officers of the navy, in command of different stations or detachments of the corps on shore; and no hesitation is had in calling on all and every one to say if a single instance of collision or difficulty has ever occurred in the discharge of our relative duties at naval stations, under the former laws and regulations for the government of the marine corps; and to point, if they can, to one single defect in the organized establishment of the United States marine corps, which was long tested, through the same principles and rules of government, in connection with the navy, as the British royal marines; or to any variation from the present result of the experience of that naval service, but in this one point—admirals, in the British service, hold nominal, sinecure rank in that corps, of the highest military grade; in our service, post captains or officers of the navy have, as yet, by law, no such place or rank.